Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Resource Manual

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 1–4

“The mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to help the Father in his great work by inviting all to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’ (Moroni 10:32; see also D&C 20:59). …

“The objective of religious education in the Church Educational System is to assist the individual, the family, and priesthood leaders in accomplishing the mission of the Church” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders [1994], 3). The first area of emphasis in meeting this objective is to teach students the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is found in the standard works and the words of the prophets. This manual is provided to help you accomplish that—whatever your teaching experience and in whatever language or country you teach.

The second area of emphasis is to teach by precept, by example, and by the power of the Spirit. To teach by precept you must first seek, “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), to understand the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To teach by example you must live the gospel in your personal life. Regarding teaching by the Spirit, Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “Power comes when a teacher has done all that he can to prepare, not just the individual lesson, but in keeping his life in tune with the Spirit. If he will learn to rely on the Spirit for inspiration, he can go before his class … secure in the knowledge that he can teach with inspiration” (Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 306). The power Elder Packer spoke of is manifest as a teacher bears personal testimony of the principle or doctrine being taught.

How to Use This Manual

The scriptures are to be your primary source as you prepare your lessons. To help you with your scripture study and in preparing your lessons, you should have the following seminary manuals:

  • Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Resource Manual (this manual, item no. 34591)

  • Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide (the home study manual, item no. 34190)

  • Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide (support materials for the video series, item no. 34811)

You should also have the following institute student manuals:

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (item no. 32493)

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43 (item no. 32502)

  • Pearl of Great Price Student Manual: Religion 327 (item no. 35852)

These manuals do not replace your study of the scriptures, nor do they substitute for the guidance of the Holy Ghost as you prepare to teach your students. They are additional resources for your lesson preparation. In particular, the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Resource Manual provides introductory information to the scripture blocks, outlines important gospel principles to look for, and suggests ways many of those principles might be taught so as to help students understand them and apply them in their lives.

“The CES administration has determined that in the CES weekday setting, where more time is available for instruction, the scriptures should be taught in a sequential manner. One of the best ways to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ is to teach the scriptures sequentially. Sequential scripture teaching is teaching the scriptures in the sequence they appear in the standard works” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 20; see that page for more information on sequential scripture teaching). This manual follows the sequence of the scriptures but does not provide teaching helps for all of the verses in each scripture block. Additional helps are found in the institute student manuals and the seminary student study guide.

Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders (item no. 34829) gives detailed help on teaching a CES class. You should become very familiar with its contents. The following general suggestions may be helpful in your lesson preparation.

Prepare Yourself to Study and Teach the Gospel

  • Live the gospel.

  • Pray for the Spirit to guide you as you study, as you prepare, and as you teach.

  • Exercise faith in the Lord, in the power of the Spirit, and in the power of the scriptures to meet the needs of your students.

Decide What You Will Teach

  • Decide what portion of the scriptures you want to cover in your lesson. This manual is divided into scripture blocks, which in most cases correspond to sections in the Doctrine and Covenants. The pacing guide on pages 5–6 can help you determine how much material to cover each day or week.

  • Study the scripture block thoroughly. Read it several times, making note of the doctrines, principles, events, and difficult words or phrases. This manual, the institute student manuals, and the student study guide will help you understand the scripture block and decide what is important for your students. You will be more effective in your teaching if you have discovered something inspiring in the scripture block. You might then lead your students to make a similar discovery.

  • Choose those doctrines, principles, and events that are most important for your students to know. Let the promptings of the Spirit and the needs of your students guide you as you decide what to teach.

Note: For helpful suggestions on what to teach, see “Decide the What,” presentation 19 in Teaching the Gospel Video Presentations (item no. 53953).

Decide How You Will Teach

  • Choose one or more teaching methods for each event, principle, or doctrine you want to teach. Use your own methods or those suggested in the curriculum materials.

  • Choose methods that encourage student readiness, participation, and application.

    1. 1.

      Readiness means that students are prepared spiritually and intellectually, alert, focused, and willing to participate in the learning experience. “Readiness is a condition of the heart as well as the mind” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 13). It is not a gimmick used to start a lesson; it is a continual assessment of your students’ focus.

    2. 2.

      Participation means that students are involved in the learning process. Their participation may be physical, emotional, and intellectual, as well as spiritual. The more involved students are in the learning process, the more they will understand, remember, and apply.

    3. 3.

      Application means that students accept the ideas being taught, understand how they can apply them in their lives, and then seek to live according to those principles.

Note: For helpful suggestions on how to teach, see “Decide the How,” presentation 20 in Teaching the Gospel Video Presentations. See also “Methods for Teaching the Scriptures” in the appendix (pp. 287–91).

How This Manual Is Organized

The resource materials for the scripture blocks are found in four sections.


The “Introduction” section provides background material and other information to help you understand the scripture block in its historical and scriptural setting. These, together with background information in the student study guide and the institute student manuals, can enhance your own study and understanding of the scriptures.

You can also use the introductory material to provide:

  • Motivating questions to ask your students and promote learner readiness.

  • Background information, things for students to look for as they read, and other prereading helps.

  • Quotations to display or write on the board or notes for the students to write in their scriptures.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

You may find many important doctrines and principles in a scripture block. The “Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For” section lists some of those you might want to teach your students. The following are ways to use them in your teaching:

  • Use them as a standard to ensure that correct doctrine is being taught.

  • Use them to help determine what your students need to be taught.

  • Write them on the board to give students principles to look for as they study the scripture block.

  • Invite students to look for additional scripture references that support or explain the doctrine.

Additional Resources

The “Additional Resources” section provides corresponding page numbers in Church History in the Fulness of Times and the Doctrine and Covenants institute student manual. These institute manuals will give additional historical background to the sections you will be teaching. President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught the importance of studying the doctrine and history of the Church together: “You are not going to get out of it all there is in it unless you take it up section by section; and then when you do that, you will have to study it with its setting as you get it in the history of the Church” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:199).

Occasionally the “Additional Resources” section includes appendix items or other materials as well.

Suggestions for Teaching

The “Suggestions for Teaching” section contains teaching ideas you may want to consider as you decide how to teach the events, principles, and doctrines you have chosen from the scripture block. You are not required to use these teaching suggestions. They are provided as a resource for you as you consider the needs of your students with the direction of the Spirit. You will also find useful suggestions in the student study guide that can be adapted for use in the classroom (see “An Introduction for Teachers to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide,” p. 4).

The headings for the teaching suggestions include the following information:

  • Statement of Focus. Introducing each suggestion is a statement in bold type that tells the verses or chapters and principle that particular teaching suggestion focuses on. These statements of focus often correspond to the principles found in the “Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For” section of the scripture block.

  • Scripture Mastery. Teaching suggestions that include scripture mastery passages are identified with the icon shown here. President Howard W. Hunter, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said, “We would hope none of your students would leave your classroom fearful or embarrassed or ashamed that they cannot find the help they need because they do not know the scriptures well enough to locate the proper passages” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], 187).

    “Scripture mastery” is a method for teaching students how to find scripture verses, gain an understanding of their meaning, and apply them in their lives. One hundred scriptural passages—25 for each scripture course—have been chosen to receive special emphasis in seminary. These references are labeled “Scripture Mastery” in the teaching suggestions where they are found. You should help students master the scripture mastery references by reviewing them in class and encouraging students to learn them on their own. For suggestions on how to encourage scripture mastery in your classes, as well as a list of the scripture mastery references for all four courses of study, see “Scripture Mastery,” “Methods for Teaching Scripture Mastery,” and “Scripture Mastery Lists” in the appendix (pp. 292–97; see also Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, pp. 34–35).

  • Weekly Icon. This icon identifies teaching suggestions recommended for a teacher in a home-study program or who wants help teaching larger blocks of scripture.

  • Time Designation. At the end of the heading is the approximate amount of time it would take to teach that suggestion. It is included only to help you plan your daily lessons and is not an indication of how much time should be spent teaching that suggestion.

Other Teaching Helps

  • Videos. The Doctrine and Covenants and Curch History Video (item no. 53786 VHS, 54012 DVD) contains presentations to help you teach the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history. Teaching suggestions for these video presentations are found in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide (item no. 34811). The CES Church History Resource Videocassette (item no. 53535) also contains presentations that you can use in your teaching. Scripture blocks for which there is a video presentation are designated with the icon shown here and a note at the beginning of the teaching suggestions section.

  • Appendix. Occasionally a teaching suggestion refers to a chart, harmony, or handout in the appendix that can help you teach that suggestion. These items are referred to by title and page number.

  • Gospel Art Picture Kit (item no. 34730). The 160 color pictures in this package depict scripture and Church history stories and illustrate gospel principles. Most of the pictures used in the teaching suggestions in this manual come from the Gospel Art Picture Kit. The kit is available in ward and branch libraries throughout the Church. Note: If you ordered the Gospel Art Picture Kit before 1999, you may also need the Supplement (item no. 34740) to have all 160 pictures.

  • Student Reading of the Doctrine and Covenants. Encourage students to read the entire Doctrine and Covenants and Joseph Smith—History 1. President Spencer W. Kimball once said: “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 135).

    Encourage your students to follow the assignments in the “Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Reading Chart” in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide. (You may need to adapt the chart to your school year.) This will help them pace their reading to correspond with class activities.

    Students who want to read ahead may do so, but encourage them to review the scripture block the class will be studying during the week. Using the reading chart will challenge you to pace yourself during the year so you can teach the entire Doctrine and Covenants and Church History course.

  • Students with Special Needs. Special needs is a general term used to identify students of unique circumstances. It may include those with reading or learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and intellectual disabilities. It may also include those who are incarcerated, attending alternative schools, confined to wheelchairs, homebound, hearing or visually impaired, and so forth.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement” (History of the Church, 6:311). You should make every reasonable effort to meet the learning needs of all your students. It may not be possible to meet all the needs of all the students all the time. You can, however, be aware of the special needs of your students and adapt the regular curriculum materials so that all students can gain something from at least part of each lesson. Other students can also be given the opportunity to help students with special needs. Such selfless service is a blessing to both the giver and the receiver.

    In addition to the regular curriculum materials, other materials are available to help teach those with special needs. The Church Educational System Publications Catalog lists the Beginning Course, a highly visual, simplified curriculum for students on a second- to fourth-grade reading level. The catalog also includes items in braille and on audiocassette or videocassette. (For these and related materials, see “Specialized Curriculum” in the subject index.) Note that all new CES videos produced for the classroom are closed-captioned. In addition to the CES catalog, the Church Materials Catalog includes many helpful items for students with special needs (see especially the “Audiocassettes”; “Disabilities, Materials for Members with”; “Videocassettes”; and “Videocassettes, American Sign Language” sections in the subject index). The Church magazines are good sources for articles, pictures, and ideas that may relate to the special needs of your students. The Gospel Art Picture Kit is another source of pictures that may help you in your teaching.

An Introduction for Teachers to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide

The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide helps students read the Doctrine and Covenants and then ponder and apply its teachings. It is required for the home-study program, but most daily teachers will also find it useful in their preparation and teaching.

Use in the Home-Study Seminary Program

Seminary is a five-day-a-week program (or its equivalent) throughout the school year. Because home-study seminary classes meet only once a week, home-study students should use the student study guide the other four days. Although all students are encouraged to read the scriptures daily, home-study students should understand that they are expected to spend 30–40 minutes a day for four school days each week working on the activities and assignments in the study guide.

Students do not write in their study guides. Use one of the following options for written assignments:

  • Have each student do the written work on pages in a loose-leaf notebook and submit the pages completed each week. When you return the work, the student can put the pages back in the notebook.

  • Have each student use two notebooks and alternate between them. The first week, the student works in one notebook and submits it to you when class is held. The next week the student writes in the other notebook and then exchanges it in class for the first notebook, and so on.

After you collect the students’ work each week, read it and write comments to the students. This is an excellent way for you to get to know your students and determine how well they are understanding their studies. You can help motivate your students by inviting them to share some of what they wrote in their notebooks as part of the weekly class lessons.

Grading the Student Notebooks

There is no answer sheet for checking the activities in the student study guide. Some of the answers are found in the scriptures and should be apparent to you as you familiarize yourself with each activity. Other answers are based on the students’ ideas, experiences, opinions, and testimonies. In these cases there may not be a single correct answer. Evaluate and grade students on the degree of effort made based on their abilities. As you write your comments, correct any misunderstandings or answers that are clearly wrong, and praise students for their effort.

Be sensitive to students with special needs, and adapt the student study guide accordingly. For example, students with disabilities that make writing difficult might be allowed to use a tape recorder to record their work or have friends or family members write for them. You may need to adapt the number of study activities assigned to some students because of special needs. Other students may be advanced and could be encouraged to go beyond the minimum requirements.

Use in the Daily Seminary Program

The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide is recommended for every student in the daily seminary program. Each student should have a personal copy or at least have access to a desk copy. You can then have students refer to the “Understanding the Scriptures” sections for help in understanding difficult words and phrases and for quotations and explanations. Additionally, the Church history lessons in the last part of this manual rely on readings from the study guide.

While preparing lessons, look at the introduction to each scripture block and the “Studying the Scriptures” section for help in deciding what and how to teach. For example, some of the introductions provide discussion questions that help create learner readiness. Occasionally you may want to have students do one of the “Studying the Scriptures” activities during class and then have them share what they wrote, either in groups or with the entire class. Even when the activities are not followed exactly as prescribed in the study guide, they may provide good ideas that can be adapted for use in a classroom setting.