General Conference Notes Worksheet

[ 6 ] Comments

by Nathan Richardson

ALT

Especially good for older kids who are learning to take notes and gain personal insights

Click here to watch general conference online

I made this worksheet with my nieces and nephews in mind. I was trying to think of ways to help a teen or youngster get into general conference. What would help them learn to start listening to the talks and even taking notes? I decided it might help to add a bit of trivia, just to pique their interest. The worksheet is full of features that might help someone learn little facts about how general conference is run.

If you would like to see an example of how you might use this worksheet, go to my example worksheet page. There you will find the same worksheet, but filled in with blue handwriting. It’s only one of several ways to use this worksheet (and probably more complex than most people would want), but it should give you a few ideas.

General conference notes worksheet

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1. I divided the notes section into two parts: content/topic, and personal application/plans. I’ve heard many a Church leader, like Elders Scott or Bednar, say that we should take notes like this. There’s little point in just summarizing the talk, since it’s going to come out in print form within a month anyway. Instead, we should write down impressions or promptings that come to us, making plans of what we ought to do as a result of hearing the talk. In a way, the purpose of the content/topic part is merely to provide a memory-kick to help us remember the context that prompted us to make the particular goal.

2. On one side of the worksheet are the fifteen apostles, who you can always count on to speak at least once in every general conference. On the reverse are spaces for other general and auxiliary authorities, without pictures because you never know which ones will be speaking. This can lead to a discussion about why that might be (e.g., the apostles hold the keys to receive revelation and direction from the Lord for the entire Church).

3. The apostles have been placed in order of seniority rather than order of Church leadership structure. That is, the two counselors in the First Presidency are not at the top, even though members of the quorum of the Twelve take directions from and report to them. This can lead to discussion about prophetic succession and which titles are determined by seniority (title in a squared box) versus by calling (title in a rounded box).

4. I put check boxes to mark which session they spoke in, which can help them get familiar with the schedule of conference. It can also raise the question of which apostles speak more than once (only members of the First Presidency), which can lead to discussion of why (e.g., we need to pay special attention to their words because they carry the most weight). At first I was going to organize the worksheet according to session, but it would have been an ugly or awkward chart because you never know who’s speaking or how many will speak. Plus, by organizing it according to speaker, it gives the user something to lookfor.

5. I left out the names on purpose, so that the kids have to pay attention to their faces on the screen, do a little hunting and matching, and write down the name themselves. This can help them get more familiar with the apostles and come to know them by sight.

6. On the reverse side, the speakers can also be categorized by which organization of the Church they are serving in. This can lead to discussions about where the conference speakers are generally chosen from. (To my knowledge you don’t actually have to be a general or auxiliary authority; it’s just the typical practice.)

7. The organization check boxes can lead to discussions about the difference between general authorities (shaded column) and auxiliary authorities (clear column). And of course, technically I can’t say that all members of the quorums of Seventy are general authorities (only the first and second quorums are; the rest are area authorities). But since the web page on Church organization makes the same generalization, I felt OK doing the same. (By the way, I heard that Elder Bednar once made this distinction very clear at a BYU–Idaho devotional when the opening prayer referred to him as a general authority. After the prayer, Elder Bednar was quick to clarify that he was currently not a general authority, but rather just an area authority.)

8. The session check boxes can also be used to point out which leaders typically do and don’t speak in the priesthood session. For example, does the General Sunday School Presidency ever speak in the priesthood session? (I actually don’t know the answer; I just now thought of it. Now I have something to look for in the next several conferences!)

You’ll notice that much of this worksheet focuses on trivia. The most important part is taking notes on the talks and receiving spiritual guidance on how to act on them. But I included the other less important matters because youth often need some kind of hook to catch their interest. Anything is good to include if it leads someone to start paying more attention to the inspired leaders at general conference.

I’d love to know how you use this sheet and what the results were. Let me know how it goes, as well as any suggestions you have!

About Nathan Richardson

Nathan is the fourth of six northern California children and is still recovering from the trauma of never being quite sure whether there will be enough for seconds at dinner. He is married to Beauty Incarnate, who usually goes by the name of Jelaire, and they have 2.7 children. Nathan enjoys book design, maps, salsa, children's storytelling, and making gospel study aids. He is the creator of the Structured Edition of the standard works, a free custom edition of the scriptures.

6 Responses to General Conference Notes Worksheet

  1. Elissa says:

    Living on the other side of the world sometimes has advantages. We don’t get to see Conference until a week later at our Stake Conference. (Remember we are in front of you—yes, we have technology, but when Sunday morning session is running, it is Monday morning here and we are at work.) I usually listen online before we get together as a stake, but I make booklets for our family for notes—and I only put the faces of those who I know are speaking. My kids love it. Then on the Monday evening, everyone’s notes are discussed and we come up with a summary of conference that is put on the fridge door for the next 6 months.

    • Those are fantastic ideas, Elissa. I’m guessing you’re in Australia? Maybe between moving to Australia or investing in a time machine, I’ll find a way to make more customized worksheets with every speaker’s photo. :-) What form does your summary take? A few key phrases? One item per speaker? One sentence per family member? Just a few favorite quotes?

  2. Maria Hull says:

    I couldn’t get your page to download or even to view, but I want you to know I took some of your written ideas to use for my Beehive group as we make notebooks for our activity this evening. I will use it for my kids, too. Thanks for sharing your idea.

  3. Mike says:

    Nathan,
    I’m blown away by your Structured Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. I can’t imagine how long that must have taken you. You must have gained some tremendous insights while doing it, too. I appreciate your General Conference aid, too. It will be a good way for us to help our children understand key points from this past conference weekend. Your page layout work for all of these things is beautiful. Thank you for all these things.

    • Thanks, Mike. I’m really glad the worksheet helped, especially for the kiddos. If you know any foreign languages (besides Spanish and Dutch), I’m looking to translate it.

      Yes, the Structured Edition of the D&C did take a while—about 18 months for this draft, plugging away for about 45 minutes every morning at 6:00 am. I’ve been working on the Book of Mormon off and on for about 5 years. I would have it done by now if it weren’t for this other hobby I have called husband-and-father. :-) If you have any suggestions or thoughts about its layout or features, I’d love to hear them.

      And yes, I gained oodles of insights by doing this (in fact, I kind of think everyone should try re-creating this on their own, simply because you learn so much by trying). Eventually I’ll get around to publishing an annotated version with comment boxes in the extra-wide margins.

      (What I’d actually like to do is create an electronic version where you can turn on and off different types of floating comments, like geographical insights, promises and fulfillments, sources of allusions, etc. But since I don’t have those programming skills, it would require finding someone who’d want to partner with me. The possibilities for a dynamic, social interface are endless! Wouldn’t it be cool if you could “subscribe” to someone’s personal scripture commentary?)

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