Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tender Hearts Discovered Through Tardy Make-ups

Students roll into seminary, and sometimes they're late. It's going to happen.  I've tried to come up with a fair way for them to do tardy make-ups.  So far, this has worked for me over the last several years.

1.  I collect each student's e-mail address at the beginning of the year. 

2. I send them each an e-mail to make sure I have the correct e-mail address.

3.  I put them in an e-mail group in my address book online.

4.  For every day that I have a lesson, I send them a group e-mail (BCC) with 3 questions from the lesson.   I call them my "3 Seminary Questions", followed by the date.

5.  In order to get credit for a tardy, they must answer at least one question correctly and send it back to me through e-mail.  Since I send 3 questions/day, they have an opportunity to get credit for 3 tardies at one time.   They cannot "bank" their tardies past a week, so whatever questions they answer correctly beyond what they need gets translated into Mormon Money (a money reward system we use in class).  

What's nice for me is that I can see, from their responses, who was listening and who wasn't.  Or even better, whether what I've taught was clear or unclear.  If I was unclear, then I know that I need to work harder as a teacher to articulate my thoughts and teach differently.  If I was clear, then I know how to continue.  Sometimes students answer the questions with simple answers, and others have been known to write paragraphs.  It's completely up to them. 

For those students who attend seminary on time, they can simply delete the e-mail when they receive it, or answer the questions to earn Mormon Money.

You can see that this takes some time to maintain and be consistent.  I haven't had a problem with maintenance, so far.  What I enjoy the most are reading the responses.  There are times when I can "see in their heart" with their honest answers.  I have found class comedians, poets, book-writers, and students with wild imaginations in reading these responses.  Some of their "talents" would never have been discovered had I not given them the chance to express themselves in this way.  So....................this is what works for me.

Here are my questions from today's lesson in 2 Nephi 28:

1. In 2 Nephi 28:4-9, there are several false teachings Nephi mentions would be present in the last days. Name two.

2. How could being aware of these false teachings be helpful to us? How do we know they're false?

3. In the short movie we watched today, President Boyd K. Packer compared the dangers of Satan to us, with the dangers of a crocodile to other animals in the wild. How were the other animals fooled (especially the young) to get close enough to the crocodile? ...And give me an example of how that could be us?


  1. Love your insights. We moved from San Diego to the Philly area and I am teaching the 11th-12th graders every morning. This my first time teaching seminary and I have been wondering what to do about "tardy students". I like your idea.
    What is Mormon money and what do you do with it?

  2. This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas & what works for your class! It's obvious you have love & enthusiasm for your students. Great job! :)

  3. Pam,

    It's so nice to hear from another seminary teacher. I enjoy teaching the 11th and 12th graders very much, too. Unfortunately the BULK of my students are tardy. On a good day, we start with 4-6 students at 6:00 a.m. sharp. I have a class of 32. I use my e-mail system (3 Seminary Questions) to help them do make-up work for tardies, but some of them still choose not to do it. I believe in accountability. If they don't do the make-ups I have available, that is their choice. I can't make them WANT to do them. It will catch up with them at the end of the year. A letter home to mom/dad sometimes gets them moving. I give them other opportunities, like taking notes at Stake/General Conference, etc., but they must be accountable for their attendance. Many mornings I'll start with a scripture mastery activity so that when they get there, there's something to do and be busy with. That way they feel like they should get there on time so they can participate.
    The Mormon money is paper money I printed out through a packet I bought: "Seminary Scripture Mastery Resources" for the Book of Mormon by Ken Alford. There are two volumes. The packet contains a pattern for money you can print out in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, and $100. I print teach denomination in a different color. Assigned 2 students in class to be treasurers and they pay out what each students has earned the previous week. Each student gets $1 for every day they attend. They get $3 more for every day they attend on time, (so that's $4). $5 for participating in the devotional, $10 for presenting the spiritual thought, $5/day for reading their scriptures for a minimum of 10 minutes, $5 for helping me in the classroom, $25 for each SM they memorize and pass off. We either have an auction or they can purchase stuff from my closet with what they have earned. Basically, it's a participation reward system. I also have periodic SM games/activities and I give out lots of Mormon Money on those days. I tally it all up on the weekend, and on Monday I let my treasurers hand out the cash!

  4. Thank you, love the money idea. Wonder if it will fly here? I will look up Ken Alford money packet.

    Also, what type of Scripture mastery activities do you have them doing? The only ideas I have are from the manual and the not so wonderful pictures from our CES director that are supposed to help them recognize/memorize the scriptures.

  5. Pam,
    I have several ideas I have been using. I have gotten most of them off the internet and have adjusted them to fit my class. If you can e-mail me at pawswright@msn.com, I can forward on to you what I have. Glad to share.