30 Teacher Presentation or Instruction

Teaching The Gospel A CES Resource for Teaching Improvement, (2000), 106–108

Principles to Emphasize

Teacher Presentation Is a Primary Activity

Teacher presentation “is one of the primary activities of teachers as they direct the learning process” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders [1994], 35).

True Stories Enhance Scripture Teaching

True stories from the scriptures and from Church history illustrate how obedience or disobedience to gospel principles has affected people’s lives. “Retelling these stories can be one of the most inspiring things teachers can do for their students” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 36).

Plan Teacher Presentation

Teacher presentation requires careful planning and preparation to decide “how to begin and how to develop the presentation in a logical fashion” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 36). During this preparation, a teacher needs to consider how the presentation will affect learner readiness, participation, and application.

Combine Teacher Presentation with Other Methods

Teacher presentation is effective when it is “part of an overall lesson plan that incorporates other methods and approaches” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 37).

Use Variety in the Presentation

Teacher presentation is enhanced by varying voice inflection, tone, and volume; movement; and the types of materials presented (see Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 37).

Suggested Training Activities: Teacher Presentation Is a Primary Activity (8 minutes)


Have teachers carefully read the first three paragraphs of the section entitled “Teacher Presentation or Instruction” (handbook, 35–36). Ask:

  1. What is “teacher presentation or instruction”?

  2. Why do you think teacher presentation is one of the primary activities of teachers?

  3. Why do people sometimes talk about teacher presentation as if it were an undesirable method?

  4. When have you seen teacher presentation used effectively?

  5. What reduces the effectiveness of teacher presentation?

  6. How can you recognize when you are overusing teacher presentation?

  7. What are some major functions of teacher presentation or instruction?

Suggested Training Activities: True Stories Enhance Scripture Teaching (23 minutes)


Invite teachers to read the statement from handout 29 by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The Purpose of Faith-Promoting Stories

“I think the proper course for us to pursue is to turn to the holy scriptures and learn what the Lord has done for the people of his church in days of old. The more we know about the way an unchangeable God has operated in days past, the greater surety we will have that he will repeat himself in days present.

“The faith-promoting stories in the scriptures will accomplish their purpose if we let them, and that purpose is to create faith in our hearts so that we will trust in the same Lord who blessed our forbears and thereby inherit the same blessings that he poured out upon them. . . .

“Having so studied and having thereby gained faith like the ancients, we also shall enjoy what they enjoyed. Pure religion and undefiled will dwell in our hearts, as it did in theirs, and we for our day will be able to testify of the goodness of God to us as they testified of that same goodness to them” (“The How and Why of Faith- Promoting Stories,” New Era, July 1978, 5).

Ask teachers: What is the purpose of faith-promoting stories?


Invite teachers to carefully read the section entitled “Use True Stories” (handbook, 36). Ask:

  1. In religious education, why are true stories so valuable?

  2. How can true stories affect students?

  3. What source did Elder Bruce R. McConkie identify as a “treasury of inspiring and faith-promoting stories”? (see handbook, 36).

  4. What did Elder McConkie suggest is the “perfect pattern in presenting faith-promoting stories”? (see handbook, 36).

  5. How can you help your students understand the value of true stories?

Writing Exercise

Distribute to teachers copies of recent general conference issues of the Ensign (if available). Show them the “stories” entry in the subject index near the back of the issue. (Since May 1994 the general conference issues of the Ensign have included a “stories” entry in the subject index.)

Invite teachers to:

  1. Review a scripture block they will be teaching in the coming week, and identify one of the principles it teaches.

  2. Identify stories that might be used to illustrate that principle (from the “stories” entry in the Ensign or from other sources).

  3. Write down the scripture reference, a principle it teaches, and ideas for stories to use in teaching the scripture block.

Invite teachers to share what they wrote with the in-service group.


Invite teachers to read the statement from handout 29 by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask teachers to look for a word or phrase that stands out for them.

Do Not Embellish, Extend, or Decorate Stories

“As useful as stories are, I have always been scrupulously careful in telling stories not to give the impression that a fictitious story is true or that I participated in an incident when I did not. I know there are those who will want to make the stories appear to be part of their own experience. Personally, I feel that is dishonest. I would not do it, nor would I recommend it to anyone else. If I ever tell a story in my teaching and indicate that it is from my own experience, it did happen to me or I would never identify it that way. Nor should you feel it necessary to embellish or extend or decorate a story. If it won’t stand on its own to illustrate the point, then don’t use it” (Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 242).

Ask teachers: What word or phrase from Elder Packer’s counsel stood out for you? Why?

Suggested Training Activities: Plan Teacher Presentation (8 minutes)

Object Lesson

Bring a blueprint or house plan to the in-service meeting and display it for teachers. Ask:

  1. What problems could arise if you tried to construct a building without a complete set of blueprints?

  2. What should be included in a complete set of blueprints?

  3. How does a blueprint compare to a plan for a teacher presentation?

  4. From your experience, what problems can arise if a teacher gives a presentation without first planning it?


Invite teachers to read the section entitled “Plan the Presentation or Instruction Portion of the Lesson” (handbook, 36). Have them look for what teachers need to consider when planning a presentation. Ask:

  1. What should teachers consider when planning a presentation?

  2. How can careful planning help ensure that a presentation is not a passive experience for students?

Suggested Training Activities: Combine Teacher Presentation with Other Methods (8 minutes)

Object Lesson

Bring a plain string and a string of pearls (or beads) to the in-service meeting. Display both items for teachers. Ask:

  1. How attractive is the plain string compared to the string of pearls (or beads)?

  2. What is the comparative value of each?

  3. How would you feel about presenting the plain string as a gift to someone you care about?

  4. What difference would it make if you presented the string of pearls to your friend?

Invite teachers to read the section entitled “Combine Teacher Presentation with Other Methods” (handbook, 37). Ask them to look for what the pearls and the string in the metaphor represent. Ask teachers:

  1. How valuable is a lesson that has only the “string” of the teacher talking and the students listening?

  2. What is it like to be a student in a learning experience that consists mostly of teacher presentation?

  3. How does the metaphor of the pearls remind us to use teacher presentation wisely?

  4. How can teacher presentation be used to “string or hold together” other teaching methods?

Suggested Training Activities: Use Variety in the Presentation (8 minutes)


Invite teachers to read the section entitled “Use Variety in the Presentation” (handbook, 37). Have them look for ways to introduce variety into teacher presentation. Ask: What are some ways to introduce variety into teacher presentation?


Draw a string of pearls on the board. Ask teachers to review today’s in-service lesson and identify which parts of the lesson were the “string” (teacher presentation) and which parts were the “pearls” (methods or activities). Label the drawing on the board using the teachers’ answers. The labeled drawing should look similar to the one below.

Teaching methods

Ask teachers: How was variety introduced into today’s in-service lesson?

Writing Exercise

Distribute handout 30 to teachers and invite them to complete it prior to the next in-service meeting. The handout asks teachers to review the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) and give examples of how the Lord performed the major functions of teacher presentation in that sermon. At the next in-service meeting, invite teachers to share their findings with the group.