Carousel Brainstorm

This activity gives students the chance to share their ideas about a topic or theme before the teacher begins a unit of study. By sharing ideas and knowledge, students develop a shared knowledge base related to the topic/theme of study.

Instructions

  1. The teacher creates several questions, topics or issues related to the topic or theme and posts the questions on large stickies or poster paper around the classroom. 

  2. The teacher divides the class into small groups to match the number of questions/topics.

  3. The teacher gives each group a different colored marker and assigns one question to each group.

  4. Working on their assigned questions, the small groups brainstorm ideas and knowledge they have related to the questions, writing ideas either directly on the poster paper or on sticky notes and then sticking them to the poster paper.

  5. On the teacher’s signal, the small groups rotate clockwise to the next question. This process is repeated until all groups have responded to all questions.

  6. (Optional) The teacher debriefs the activity by asking students to star the top 3 ideas they posted for each question and uses those ideas to lead a whole class discussion.

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This is a synchronous activity. 

    The teacher creates several questions and/or statements related to the topic or theme, putting each question or statement on its own slide within a shared ('anyone with link can edit') Google Slide deck. 

    The teacher divides the class into small groups. The number of groups should be equal to the number of questions and/or statements. 

    The teacher assigns each group a different color to type with. 

    Students are sent into a breakout room and instructed to start on the question with the same number as their breakout room (i.e., students in breakout room 2 will start on question 2). 

    Working on their assigned questions or statements, the small groups brainstorm ideas and knowledge they have related to the questions or statements, typing directly on the slide with their assigned question using their assigned color. 

    On the teacher’s signal, the small groups rotate to the next question, going in sequential order (the group at question 1 goes to question 2, question 2 to question 3, etc.) The teacher does not necessarily need to waste time bringing students out of their breakout rooms to transition. Instead, the teacher can simply monitor that students have transitioned correctly by looking at the shared Google Slides, making sure that each slide now has text being written in a second color.

    This process is repeated until all groups have responded to all questions.

    Optional extension: The teacher debriefs the activity by asking students to star the top 3 ideas they posted for each question and uses those ideas to lead a whole class discussion.

Helpful Tips

  1. Ensure that the posted questions are open-ended, allowing students to add a variety of information.

  2. This can also be done using technology (apps like Padlet)

Differentiation

  1. The questions should align with the students’ age and proficiency levels.

  2. The teacher might provide sentence starters or one response for each question as a guide for the students.

  3. The teacher might provide a bank of vocabulary and/or responses from which students can choose.

Materials

  1. Different colored markers

  2. Large sticky-notes or poster paper

  3. Open-ended questions that pertain to the unit topic or theme

  4. Optional - different colored sticky notes (1 color per group), if the teacher wishes to re-use the same poster paper with questions/topics for multiple classes.