Posted in brilliant ideas, Cell Phone Apps, church, coping, Getting Organized, Teaching

5 ways to not go crazy with teenagers, cell phones and Sunday school

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I was sitting in a “teacher council” meeting this last week

And we were discussing cell phones…and how they drive everyone insane.

There you are teaching a lesson and suddenly the two girls in the back are giggling over the video they are watching on their phones.
Or the kid who sits there through the whole lesson playing on his phone and being sulky and sullen if you ask him to participate.
Or just trying to get their attention AT ALL, get them to LOOK UP from their phones and act like humans and give educated, interesting, thought provoking responses

(I mean is that even possible??? Even without phones???)

Many in the group offered this solution: Take their phones away.

And that’s not a bad call in some cases really.

And as a high school teacher, I used to do much that same thing.
At the beginning of class, I made all my kids turn off their phones (OFF, not just vibrate)
And I went around and checked them and gave them points for doing it even.
And they were supposed to keep them ON their desk (not under the desk or on their lap)
And keep them off for the whole period.

It worked great.
My lower level kids had a harder time with it sometimes, 
But let’s be honest, they had a hard time following directions period. So hey…

This last year though, my attitude changed.
I still miss the days of “turn off your phone when you come to class”
But my attitude now is: Let’s teach you to USE that phone instead of just PLAY with it.
If ANYONE is going to do that, it should be ME, your teacher, the school
This should be part of your education.
Because phones are not going away
And if anything they are getting better and better

And we can use them in more ways to make our lives better

But I’m sorry, if all they know is how to work Snapchat, Instagram and FB
I don’t see their lives being enriched at all.

In fact most kids only use their phones as very expensive toys 

So where will they learn to be better?

They will just magically wake up one day and be so?
Ya no…. welcome to YOUR calling 🙂

So these are some ideas of how you could USE phones in your Sunday School/YW/YM class to teach them to be GOOD with their phones. Hope it helps 🙂

1. Have them put a quote into their “Scriptures” as the class is starting or as their “ticket” out

Let’s say hypothetically that you weren’t teaching lesson 3 and you chose to discuss the topic of the godhead



Included in these materials are several scriptures and also some references to some talks by General Authorities about the subject

To start off the class one thing that could be useful for them is to give them something to keep in their “scriptures”

It used to be that everyone had physical scriptures and so to give them something to keep in their scriptures all you had to do was print out a quote on some cute paper and hand it out to them. Now though if you do that chances are that those little pieces of paper will not be saved by anything other than the trash can because now everything is digital.

But there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing with the same intention in the digital age. You want them to put something in their scriptures that later in life they might find and be inspired or motivated or comforted by.

So you go to one of these articles that the lesson provided and you find a quote for them. I trust one from the article “Godhead” in True to the Faith.


Copy and paste that onto a paper with some instructions. For example I would put something like this, either that I wrote on the board or that I printed together with the quote to just hang up like a sign on the board:
Go to Matthew 3:13

Highlight the first phrase “Jesus, when he was baptized”

Now at the top of your screen click on what looks like a paper and pencil.
This opens up a note (what would be a sticky note if you were using physical scriptures)

Title this note “the nature of the godhead”

Type the following quotes in as a note:

At least for once their little fingers moving fast on the keys will not be irritating 🙂

Now the next time they read this verse (which is a pretty good example of the time in the scriptures when all three of the godhead were present together and also scripture that often misinterpreted) they will have this part of the first highlighted and also have this quote there either for their own enrichment or to share with others, just like the cute little bookmarks and inserts that we used to get in our scriptures.

Below this quotes you could also have them write a response (including the date) of how they feel about this or an experience with it or a comment about it or a question any type of thing that could go along with this.

Also when you want people to respond well and with some kind of thought to their words it’s often helpful to have them write down their responses first and this would also be a good place to do that as well if you wanted to have them discuss it later in class.

2. Have them memorize and pass off “scripture mastery” verses or choose verses that go with the lesson for that week for them to memorize.

This app is super GOOD and it’s one they would also use in Seminary 

(And no complaints from your kids’ seminary teacher I’m sure, they can use all the reinforcement and help they can get.)

It helps them to memorize the word by progressively taking words or letters away as you memorize it

See the scroll thing at the bottom? That is how you make more or less words appear as you are memorizing it

You can also have them take a quiz or take a quiz on the Scripture Mastery tags or references

Overall a pretty good app for memorizing the scriptures and you can also change it from Book of Mormon to Old Testament or new testament or whatever

3. Have them watch the corresponding video that goes with the lesson that week

It used to be that in order to watch a clip for your lesson you had to look in a huge TV and also check out a DVD or a cassette tape or a VHS tape

Now you still might have to do that if you want…

or you could actually have the students watch it themselves on their phones

One very quick and very easy option are the scripture stories these are in an easily downloaded app and they don’t take a lot of space a very common complaint from from my students these days: memory is a hot commodity) They don’t need a really good connection very simple also and to the point so they won’t take up a lot of time.

They might think this is a little childish but they do have a very basic summary of whatever it is that you’re talking about that week so at least when you say “Who is Enos?” For example you won’t just get blank stares. Well you might still get blank stares but at least you know that it’s because that’s just the way their face is…LOL

4. Make a KaHoot! Game 


You can do a quiz, a discussion,  a survey and they are really easy to make. It’s something that you could do the night before and then do during class without too much effort

All you need is a “base” computer for the game–probably easier with a tablet or laptop but phone works too. In order for it to work the kids have to enter a code that you give them to be part of the game so it helps to be able to just show them the screen but you could just write it on the board it’s not that complicated.

All you have to do is log on to your account and make your quiz ( you type in the questions and the answers then click to do the next question. Easy.

Once you go to start the game their phones now become their buzzers and as soon as they answer the program will show that they did and it will show the results of who answered what but it won’t say specifically which answer was whose so as not to embarrass anyone (It shows how many people have answered not who has answered). The program will tell them the correct answer was after a certain time. Usually 10 to 15 seconds and then it will move on to the next question.

5. Have them Define some words:

 I am always shocked at how many words my students don’t know the definition to. Words that I think “Of course they know because they’ve heard them a million times” and so I assume that they know what they mean! …and they don’t.

In my English class sometimes I have them go through an article before we read it and highlight words that they don’t understand and I am always floored at the words that they highlight. Now maybe they’re picking random words but in most cases I don’t think they are.

Like the other day we are reading an article and it use the word “bigot”I would say 99% of my students did not know what it meant and the one kid who guessed said that it meant a b**** and I guess that’s close to the definition? At least it’s getting to the general connotation of it but the fact that it had a female Association to it Disturbed me a little frankly. Do you see what I mean though? They kind of know what certain words mean but then at the same time they really don’t at all.

So if you want them to do something to help on the lesson have them choose some words to look up the definition for…

Maybe they have heard them a million times but it doesn’t mean that they understand them…at all…

On some words maybe just dictionary.com ( which most of my students use at school on their phones on a pretty regular basis) would work well for just like the Webster’s Dictionary type of a definition. For example, this is what the word “Meek” means:

It’s not a bad definition and it even gives you where it’s from? That’s kind of interesting but as far as the gospel I don’t know about you but I’m still not entirely clear about what it means.

Other times you could encourage them to use things like the Bible dictionary or a new feature in the digital scriptures called “Guide to the scriptures.”

This is a new addition and it’s kind of a combination between the topical guide and the Bible dictionary. For example if you look in the topical guide under “Meek, meekness,” you get this:

And if you look in the Bible dictionary? It’s not there.

But then if you look in the guide to the scriptures you get this:

This gives you an actual definition and it also gives you the references that the topical guide does as well.

Here’s to a Happy Sunday!  Good Luck!