Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding Principles

from a handout put together by Becky Edwards

It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle.” 
---Richard G. Scott, Ensign, 1993

The most important [thing] you can do...is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently... Master the principles.” 
---Ezra T. Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986

From Elder Richard G. Scott:

• Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances.
• A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances.

From Audrey Rindlisbacher:

Characteristics of True Principles:

• Foundational idea upon which behavior is based (it’s not an application)
• True for all people, all the time
• Creates greater freedom for the individual and society
• Enlightens the understanding, enlarges the soul, expands your mind, brings new connections and ideas
• Empowers and gives hope
• Increases desire for good—in thoughts, behavior, environment and relationships
• Generates growth, enlivens
• Increases health and wholeness
• Creates win/win situations

Audrey’s Principle Checkpoints:

• God and/or Natural Law
• Your scripture or standard of truth
• Conscience
• Common sense
• Your experience—long term
• The experience of others—long term

Ways to obtain Evidence to Create Faith in and want to Embrace a Principle:

• Spiritual experience
• Study & experience of others
• Watching the results from living the principle (exercising consistently made that group of people fit and thin)

From John Hilton III 
(From Please Pass the Scriptures: From Reading to Feasting, chapters 9-10)

Principles can be easier to find and apply when you write them in an “If ....then” statements.
• Rewriting principles in your own words helps you find, remember, and apply them. A great place to  write principles you find is in the margin of your scriptures or other books.
• If you ask “What is the author trying to teach?” it can help you find principles.

Excerpt from a letter I (Sis. Cloward) sent to my missionary son, Kaiden, about principles:

"I've been watching videos online from the ten Boom institute and teaching the Vanguard youth about how to read and mark a book to get the most out of it and how to find principles in what you're reading.  It's really powerful!  As you're reading something you'll come across principles that the characters live their life by.  Sometimes they are true principles, sometimes they are false.  So like Javert in Les Mis lives his life based on the principle that "once someone is a criminal, they will always be a criminal and can't change".  That is a false principle.  Or from Jane Eyre, "doing the right thing by God is always the right thing to do even if society and circumstance allow doing the wrong thing".  That is a true principle.  How do we know it's a true principle?  It's a natural law, it a law from God, and it's true at all times for all people.  What was true for Jane Eyre would also be true for the ancient Egyptians as well as for for us in our day.  Make sense?  And as we look for principles in the things that we read, we grow and become better for it and have principles from which to live our own lives.  

So I've been marking principles in my scriptures.  Of course I don't have to evaluate them as true or false, they are always true.  But it's really powerful to find principles and then rewrite them so that they apply, ("liken the scriptures..".).  And it helps to write the principles in a "If...then..." format.  "If I do something, then something else will happen."    For example: "If I eat healthy foods, then my body will be healthy."  That is the principle, the application is then how people choose to live that principle.  So for the food principle, some applications could be not eating meat, or not eating dairy, or not eating gluten.  The application is different for all people, but the principle is the same for all people.  Another example would be the principle "parents are responsible for the education of their children".  Applications of that would be home school, public school, private school, charter school, trade school, etc.  Whatever they, the parents feel is the best way for their own children to be educated.  So while the applications are different for everyone, the true principle is the same.  Got it?  Clear as mud?  :)

Here's an example of principles in the scriptures...

In Helaman 3:27 we read: "Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name."  So we can rewrite the principle to be "If I call upon God's name with sincerity of heart, the Lord will be merciful to me."


 Helaman 3:28 "Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God." would be "If I believe on the name of Jesus Christ, the gate of heaven will be open to me."

Make sense?  So I decided to try it with my Patriarchal Blessing.  Wow!  Amazing.  I made a copy and have marked it all up.  It's amazing to see patterns and words that show up numerous times.  My patriarchal blessing is only 1 and 1/4 pages long.  So super short, but I found 12 principles in it!  

Anyways, it's so powerful to look for principles!  This would work with anything.  Scriptures, conference talks, articles, books... anything."

Here is a video from the ten Boom Institute on finding principle in what we read:

How to do an ACROSTIC

An acrostic consists of a word that is written vertically.  A word, short phrase, or sentence is then written horizontally next to each vertical letter.  The word, phrase, or sentence written horizontally should begin with the letter it is written next to and must describe the vertical word.


How to do a presentation in class

How to do a Presentation in Class 


Step 1:  Write note cards on index cards.

- Write main ideas on your index cards. Don't write details, or be stuck with the fate of looking down, staring at your note cards while reading. Put in some fun facts interactive questions, and other interactive activities on the cards to share with the class.

- Write down keywords or main ideas. If you need to consult your index cards, you're only going to want to scan the index card for information, not read every last word.

- Most of the time, the act of putting information down on your index cards will help you remember the information. So, while you might not strictly need the note cards, it's a nice security blanket to have if you happen to forget what you were going to say.

Step 2: Practice.

- In most presentations, it is pretty obvious who has practiced and who hasn't. Work on what you're going to say and how you're going to say it. You'll feel a lot more confident when you do the real thing and you'll eliminate the "likes" and "ums" unlike those who try to "wing it."

- Practice in front of your family or friends, or in front of the mirror, when you rehearse your presentation. It's probably better to do it in front of friends who you may not know well, as this will help you replicate the feeling of being in front of the class.

- Ask your friends for feedback after you finish your presentation. Was the presentation long enough? How was your eye contact? Did you stammer at all? Were all the points clearly made?

- Make a critique of your practice performance. Challenge yourself to work on all the things that you believe you can improve during the real presentation. When it comes time to deliver the real deal, you'll feel confident knowing that you've worked extra hard on what was toughest for you.

Step 3: Do your research.

- In order to give an engaging presentation, you need to know what you're talking about. You don't have to become an expert, or read every book or website ever written about your topic, but you should be able to answer any questions your teacher or classmates might give you.

- Get quotes from reliable sources. Good quotes make a good presentation great. Taking what smart people have said and putting it into your presentation not only makes you look smart, it shows the teacher that you spent time thinking about what other people said.

- Make sure your sources are trustworthy. There's nothing that can quite break your confidence like a fact that turns out to not be a fact. Don't always trust the information you get off the Internet.


Step 1: Smile at your audience.

- When it comes time to present, there's nothing that draws your audience into your presentation than a good old fashioned smile. Be happy; you're about to teach your entire class something they didn't know before.

- Studies have shown that smiles are infectious; that means that once you smile, it's hard for everyone else not to smile. So if you want your presentation to go off without a hitch, force yourself to smile. That'll make everyone smile; and maybe those smiles will make you actually smile.

Step 2: Feel confident about your presentation.

- When you give your class a presentation, your teacher is essentially having you take over their job for a little while. It's your job to make sure everyone understands what you're trying to tell them. Make sure you pay attention to how your teacher does this before your presentation, because teachers are expert presenters.

- Visualize success before, during, and after your presentation. Be humble about what you do — no need for cockiness — but imagine a successful presentation at all times. Don't let the thought of failure creep into your mind.

- In many ways, your confidence is just as important as the information you're delivering. You don't want to spread misinformation, or skimp on doing your research, but a lot of what you'll be graded on — and what the other students come away with — is going to be your level of confidence.

- If you need a confidence boost, think big picture. After 10 or 15 minutes, your presentation will be over. What will your presentation matter in the long run? Probably not very much. Try to do the best you can, but if you're getting nervous, remind yourself that there are much more important moments in your life to come.

Step 3: Make eye contact.

- Nothing is more boring than listening to a presenter who looks at the floor or at note-cards. Relax. Your audience is made up of your friends and you talk to them all the time; talk the same way now.

- Have the goal of looking at every person in the classroom at least once. That way, everyone will feel like you've engaged with them. Plus, you'll look like you know what you're talking about.

Step 4: Be sure to have inflection in your voice.

- Your goal is to engage your audience, not put them to sleep. Be animated about your topic. Talk about it as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. Your classmates will thank you for it.

- Inflection is the kind of movement that radio DJs put into their voice; it's the ramped-up pitch in your voice when it gets excited. You don't want to sound like you've just seen a lion, but you also don't want to sound like you've just seen a squirrel, either. Vary it up to make the presentation more interesting.

Step 5: Use hand motions.

- Move your hands along as you talk, using them to emphasize points and keep the audience interested. It will also channel your nervous energy into a better place.

Step 6: Have a good conclusion.

- You've probably heard the presentations that end in something like "um... yeah," Your conclusion is your final impression on your audience, including your teacher. Make it exciting by introducing a final statistic, or come up with something creative to do at the end. Your conclusion can be anything so long as your audience knows you're finished.

- Tell a story, maybe one with a personal note. Stories are great for history or English presentations. Maybe you can tie your presentation into a little anecdote about a famous historical person?

- Ask a provocative question. Ending with a question is a good way of getting your audience to think about your presentation in an interesting way. Is there a certain conclusion you want them to come to?

Step 7: Walk back to your seat with a smile.

- Know that you just aced your report and that you just did something that many people would never be able to do. Don't be disappointed if you don't get applause.

- If you make a mistake, don't worry about it. If you don't draw attention to it by correcting yourself, no one will notice and if they do, they'll quickly forget.

- Be confident and when you're nearing to the end of your presentation ask the audience if they have any questions or comments. It will make you look mature and let the class know that you really care about the topic.

- Remember: Make your voice loud- or in the acting term, project your voice.

- Try to get the right level of formality in your speech, depending on what it is for and who you are presenting it to.

- Remember that power point is a tool for your audience, not your script. Your presentation should include much more than you put on the power point and your slides should not have too much text on them.

- Make sure you look around the room, not just in the middle of the room.

- Have good posture. Don't cross or fold your arms, keep them open. Don't slouch and keep your back straight.

- Try not to argue with your audience. This detracts from your presentation. Just tell them they have an interesting point and that you'll check and get back to them.

- Don't forget to look at everyone, not just the floor. Don't stare at anyone in particular but 'skim' the class.

- Move around! You don't have to stand in one spot the entire time. Have fun with it! Using your body to accentuate your voice can also add a more natural feel to your presentation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to do a Hero Study

Research and take notes on a person you admire. This could include someone from your family history, an inventor, musician, religious leader, author, government leader or someone else you admire and want to learn more about. Find information from a library book or other reputable source.  (Note: Wikipedia is not allowed. Copying and pasting is not allowed. This needs to be in your own words.) 

Here are some ideas of thing you could include in your notes: your hero’s life and experiences, how you think they filled the mission God sent them to live, how their hard work, education, talents, and even life challenges helped them become a better person and do something worthwhile, how you can see God's hand in his or her life, and what Christlike characteristics that person had that you admire. Be sure to take notes about your hero and hand in your notes. At the end of your notes, list the heroic qualities and principles you admire about your hero.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Write an Interpretive Essay

What it's NOT

An interpretive essay is NOT a book report. It does NOT summarize the story or just list facts or details. As you write, you assume that the reader is already familiar with the story and does not need a re-hash.

What it IS 

"What I like in a good writer is not what he says, but what he whispers."
-Logan Pearsall Smith 

To discover hidden truths in literature, we must go beyond the obvious to find deeper meanings. An interpretive essay or literary analysis, is an essay that shows your understanding or interpretation of a novel, short story, or poem.  It attempts to clearly explain this understanding using examples from the book.

What it Looks Like

The Introduction must introduce the literary work, capture the reader's attention, and include a clearly written thesis statement that contains the literary interpretation.
For example: "The sea imagery in Oedipus Rex, contributes to the plot by using metaphors that make the reader feel unsettled, off balance, and powerless."

The Body of the essay must support the thesis statement through evidence--facts, examples, summaries--and commentary--opinions, analysis, interpretation, insight. This will be the majority of your essay. You should shoot for at least 3 claims or proofs from the book that give evidence for your thesis.

The Conclusion summarizes the interpretation and allows the writer to draw attention to the most important aspects of the analysis.

Drafting and Revising

  1. Reread the literary work several times (if possible). Read through the first time to get a feel for the work. Reread and look for passages and ideas that stand out or have special meaning.
  2. Before drafting, brainstorm possible interpretations. A good strategy is to write annotations as you read.
  3. Discuss the interpretation with others who have read the work.
  4. Make sure you have a clear answer to the following questions as you write or revise:
    • What is the main point of the essay? This main point should be clearly identified in the thesis statement.
    • What evidence best supports the interpretation?
    • Are there any points that should be added to clarify the interpretation?
    • Is there any superfluous evidence that could be deleted?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Character T-chart

A character chart helps us understand the characters we read about in books. It helps us understand why they do what they do, and say what they say. It also helps us know why we feel as we do toward the characters we read about.

There are two parts to a character chart: external character traits and internal character traits.

External traits are things about the character that we can see or notice with our other senses, like smell or hear. External traits also include physical descriptions about how they look. Their color or hair or eyes, their stature-are they tall or short, how they walk or talk, and also what their status is, are they a king or peasant, for example.

You create the external part by listing the external traits that you find in the book. Use quotes from the book that shows that external characteristic, citing page numbers at the end. (see example)

Internal character traits are words that describe the person’s character. They may be words used by the author to describe the character, or they may be actions or words of the character that reveal or show what the character trait is. For example, if you see your neighbor struggling to load a lot of boxes into their car, and you go and help him load them, then you reveal that you are helpful, considerate, and thoughtful.

To record the internal traits, you list the trait in bold lettering-patient, kind, cruel, obedient, hardworking, etc. Then under the trait, you write the exact words that prove the person has that trait. (see example) You can record as many incidents of a specific trait as you want. The more you have, the persuasive your evidence is that the person actually hass that character trait.

Why do Character Studies?

Character charts are useful tools in examining characters in history, literature, and poetry. Elder Richard G. Scott instructed, “Faith will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is used. Character is woven patiently from threads of principle, doctrine, and obedience” (“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character.” Ensign. November 2011). One purpose for creating character charts is to reason or evaluate the development of characters. Another purpose for this method is the development of character in the reader as the noble character of others is examined. A third purpose is to develop the reader’s ability to reason, particularly from cause to effect.

Sample T-chart 

A sample T-chart can be found here.  Instead of a list, the characteristics can be listed side by side with internal on one side and external on the other giving your paper the "T" shape.


Here are the steps to doing a word study followed by a sample word study on PEACEMAKER:

1 - Select a word to focus on.

2 - Look it up in the Webster 1828 dictionary. It can be found online, here.  Select the definition for your focus (sometimes there is more than one definition)

3 - Underline key words that stand out to you and define them if you don't know what they mean.

4 - Looking at how the word is used in Conference addresses. (Not in general quotes or other articles, at least for this purpose...) "Words of the Wise"

5 - Looking at how the word is used in the scriptures.

6 - Rewrite the definition in your own words.

7 - Write a short paragraph about how you will apply what you learned.


Word Study on PEACEMAKER

PE'ACEMAKER, n. One who makes peace by reconciling parties that are at variance.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Matt.5.

I.  Words of the Wise

"Have you ever wondered how you could be a peacemaker? I would like to mention a few possibilities. Really, our opportunities are unlimited. Certainly in our homes, as well as elsewhere, we can all be peacemakers by exhibiting love and goodwill, thus offsetting the evil of contention, envy, and jealousy. Where misunderstandings exist between children and parents we can encourage adjustments on the part of both. We can pray together for the spirit of peace. Homes can be seriously disrupted because of family strife. At times, husbands and wives in an atmosphere of contention destroy their own happiness as well as that of their children."

"Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer. One way I have seen it done is to search for anything on which we agree. To be that peacemaker, you need to have the simple faith that as children of God, with all our differences, it is likely that in a strong position we take, there will be elements of truth. The great peacemaker, the restorer of unity, is the one who finds a way to help people see the truth they share. That truth they share is always greater and more important to them than their differences. You can help yourself and others to see that common ground if you ask for help from God and then act. He will answer your prayer to help restore peace, as He has mine."
---HENRY B. EYRING Oct 2008

"In Romania I met Raluca, a 17-year-old young woman who had recently joined the Church. Her baptism was a happy event because, among other things, her whole family attended. Her mother and sister felt the Spirit there and wanted to have the missionary discussions too. This concerned the father, for he felt he was losing all of his family to this unfamiliar church. So he did not allow it, and for a time there was a feeling of discord in their family. However, Raluca remembered that she had made a baptismal covenant to take upon her the name of Jesus Christ. She tried to hold up His light by doing in her home the things He would do. She was a peacemaker. She was an example. She was a teacher. She was a healer. Eventually her father’s heart softened, and he allowed the others to learn more about the Church. Then they too were baptized. And finally, much to everyone’s joy, the father of the family also joined the Church. At his baptism he spoke and said that for a time their family had been as two hearts beating at a different rhythm in the same household. But now they were of one faith and one baptism, with their hearts knit together in unity and love. He gave thanks to the missionaries and members who had helped them. Then he paid a special tribute to his daughter Raluca for being so Christlike in their home during that difficult period, for being the peacemaker, the healer, the teacher, the example, and the light that eventually brought their entire family to the Church of Jesus Christ."
--- SUSAN W. TANNER Apr 2006

"Sometimes being benevolent is most difficult in our own families. Strong families require effort. Be cheerful, helpful, and considerate of others. Many problems in the home are created because family members speak and act selfishly or unkindly. Concern yourself with the needs of other family members. Seek to be a peacemaker rather than to tease, fight, and quarrel. Remember this: 'kindness begins with me.'"
--- MARY N. COOK Apr 2011

II. Scriptures

Matthew 5:9 & 3 Nephi 12:9
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

Psalms 133:1
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

Ephesians 4:3
"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Mosiah 18:21
"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another."

III.  My definition

My definition of PEACEMAKER is anyone who makes peace, restores unity and offsets contention. A peacemaker is someone who seeks love and goodwill holding up the light of Christ and doing all the He would do. Being a peacemaker requires effort. It requires a resolve to concern ourselves with the needs of others first and ask for God's help so that our hearts can be knit together in unity and love.

  1. Application

I can and should always strive to be a peacemaker and make peace , especially in my home where Satan is trying to destroy my family through contention, selfishness, unkindness, teasing, fighting and quarreling. As a mom, if I have the spirit of contention I can destroy the peace of not only myself, but also of my children. I must always remember that “Kindness begins with me!”

Researching an Author

Research the author and take a few notes on important aspects of their lives, including: when and where they lived, how they were raised, what their education was like, what belief system they professed and taught, what their awards and accomplishments were and what others said about them. This doesn't need to be time-consuming. It can usually be done on the internet in under an hour. But this information will be invaluable to you as you strive to truly understand classics and find principles in them. Here's why:

“…you should keep in mind that every work of literature is presented to you by some other human being with motives of her own. Though it may seem natural to identify with the characters in a story or to assume that the speaker in a poem is really the author in disguise, you should try to keep in mind that the author is controlling what you get to see and when and how you get to see it. That is, a work of literature is not a neutral presentation of the facts. Indeed, because it‟s not a report but an opportunity for social practice, literature is almost always just made up. So, while you should think about the work of literature 'from the inside,' you should also think about it from the outside. Why is this author telling me these things in this way? What does she want me to conclude? About what? If the nature of this task seems hard to pin down, think about how the gossip you hear from your friends often tells you more about them than it does about their intended victims. Literature works the same way: there are surface meanings in the story itself and meanings one step back, in the author‟s mind. It‟s good to keep all these possibilities in your mind.”

That is why, the more you know about the author the easier it will be for you to look for their biases and opinions; to be aware of what it is they are trying to teach. Especially in fictional writing, where the entire story is “made up,” the author can say or do anything and it works because it‟s not real life. If the author has a strong handle on true principles and human nature, their story will enlighten and inspire you, if not, there will be a great need for you to be careful and discerning. 

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Victor Hugo was a family man, highly educated and politically active, he lived during a time of political upheaval and wrote Les Miserables while in exile. It was an instant success and upon his return to France his countrymen hailed him as a hero. Les Miserable has remained a powerful national classic ever since. 
  • Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, actively denounced the market system while he supported his family on the charity of a friend who inherited his fortune from his father‟s successful business ventures. 

Taking time to understand the author is great practice for real life. Most of the people you meet will not share many of your opinions and will not necessarily know or understand the truth themselves. When someone wants to give you some “good advise,” you will be better equipped to discern their biases and beliefs and weigh them against what they are is telling you because you have developed this skill. You will notice that over time the truth in others‟ opinions will become clearer and you will be deceived less often.

Also remember that learning about the author is every bit as important when reading non-fiction and histories as it is when reading fiction. To learn more about this read point #1 in the histories section. Just remember, studying the author before you read any book will give you insights you could not have otherwise.

--- From the article "Getting the Book Through You" 
By Audrey Rindlisbacher and the Ten Boom Institute