Purpose: To activate students' prior knowledge of a topic or topics through movement and conversation. Description: While Carousel Brainstorming, students will rotate around the classroom in small groups, stopping at various stations for a designated amount of time. While at each station, students will activate their prior knowledge of different topics or different aspects of a single topic through conversation with peers. Ideas shared will be posted at each station for all groups to read. Through movement and conversation, prior knowledge will be activated, providing scaffolding for new information to be learned in the proceeding lesson activity.
1. Generate X number of questions for your topic of study and write each question on a separate piece of poster board or chart paper. (Note: The number of questions should reflect the number of groups you intend to use during this activity.) Post questions sheets around your classroom.
2. Divide your students into groups of 5 or less. For example, in a classroom of 30 students, you would divide your class into 6 groups of five that will rotate around the room during this activity.
3. Direct each group to stand in front of a homebase question station. Give each group a colored marker for writing their ideas at the question stations. It is advisable to use a different color for tracking each group.
4. Inform groups that they will have X number of minutes to brainstorm and write ideas at each question station. Usually 2-3 minutes is sufficient. When time is called, groups will rotate to the next station in clockwise order. Numbering the stations will make this easy for students to track. Group 1 would rotate to question station 2; Group 2 would rotate to question station 3 and so on.
5. Using a stopwatch or other timer, begin the group rotation. Continue until each group reaches their last question station.
6. Before leaving the final question station, have each group select the top 3 ideas from their station to share with the entire class.
Lipton, L., & Wellman, B. (1998). Patterns and practices in the learning-focused classroom. Guilford, Vermont: Pathways Publishing.
Sample Carousel Brainstorming for Databases
1. What is a database used for?
2. What do you see when viewing a database?
3. What are examples of databases that we use in everyday life?
4. What fields (categories) of information would you place in a database of your friends?
5. What fields (categories) of information would you place in a database of European countries?
6. What types of information do not necessarily belong in a database?
Sample Carousel Brainstorming for Webpage Evaluation
1. What should a good webpage look like?
2. What type of information should you see on a good webpage?
3. What information would you expect to find on a webpage about European countries?
4. What information would you expect to find on a webpage about biomes?
5. What are some examples of things NOT to put on your webpage?
6. If you could design your ideal webpage, what are some features you would include?