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Carousel Brainstorming incorporates movement and conversation to help students build and activate background knowledge prior to studying a new topic. This 15 minute strategy provides your whole group practice in all four domains: listening, speaking, reading and writing. During Carousel Brainstorming, small groups of students rotate around the classroom, stopping at various “stations” to activate or build their prior knowledge of a topic or concept and share their ideas with their small group. This strategy can also be used at the end of a learning session to review the content they already learned. The carousel brainstorming activity helps your ML students hear and discuss topics in both a small group setting and then followed up by whole-class reflection.

Before Activity

  • You will need to prepare and post sheets of chart paper around the room, each with one subtopic.
  • Thoughtfully select groups of students that feel safe talking to one another.

During Activity

  • Briefly overview both the main topic and the subtopics with your class. Divide your class into groups of three or four and assign each group a different colored marker with which they will write their responses on the chart paper. Assign each group to a particular “station” or piece of chart paper.
  • Give groups 1-2 minutes to discuss the topic/concept/question noted on the piece of chart paper among their group members and then write down everything they know or have learned about the topic on that particular piece of chart paper (using their assigned colored marker).
  • fter the allotted 1-2 minutes, each group should rotate to the next station where they will read the new topic/concept/question and what others have written about it, discuss it with their group, and add new information.
  • Students can also write questions about things that other groups wrote (existing answers/notes about the topic/question).
  • Continue this process until each group is back to their original station.
  • rap up the brainstorming session by having a discussion about the topics on each piece of chart paper and reading/discussing what each group wrote, answering questions as you go.
  • ave your students organize the information from the brainstorming session by using a graphic organizer, writing a summary, or doing a gallery walk, recording useful information.
  • If students are struggling to come up with words and ideas, they may need background building rather than background activating. Try gathering texts on the topic or finding relevant video clips to show for each subtopic.

Additional Supports:

  • Expect that students will use only a few words while responding or may draw pictures to express their ideas for each subtopic.
  • Provide visuals for each subtopic.
  • Provide a word bank for students to use while discussing each subtopic.
  • Challenge students to share a minimum number of details or synthesize their peers’ ideas as the writer.

Try this strategy out with any of your content areas! We would love to hear how it worked in your classroom by sharing your experience with you Assistant Principal, Facilitator, Title 1 Coordinator!