Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What's the hurry?

The moment you (some of you) have been waiting for [insert drumroll] ... the Carousel Lesson Design process. Previously, we learned about SAFARI lessons and prototyping. In this post, I share how to encourage teachers to embrace creativity and connectivity while collaborating on a week long unit design.

First, you need some ingredients. It's best if you have: 
Investigations Curriculum

  • 5 willing teachers;
  • 1 set of targets;
  • 1 rich curriculum;
  • 5 pieces of easel paper;
  • Various scented (optional), colored markers;
  • Multiple sticky notes;
  • 1 lesson design framework; and
  • 1 timer
Each teacher is assigned one of five sequential lessons and given 5 minutes (no more, no less) to look through the lesson in order to determine what is important.  At the end of this time, they use another 2 minutes to set up the SAFARI lesson framework on their easel paper and write down some of the most important ideas from the lesson they were assigned.

After 2 minutes the teachers rotate (like a Carousel) to the next lesson. Day 1 goes to Day 2 ... and Day 5 goes to Day 1. They use what they know from their own lesson and the important points the previous teacher wrote down to inform them about the lesson. They also have exactly 2 minutes to add to the lesson. I am constantly reminding them, "Don't worry about designing it perfectly. You don't even know for sure what the lesson is about. Don't worry about offending the teacher that started the lesson. They spent all of 2 minutes on it so far."

The teachers aren't always crazy about the artificial time crunch. However, it helps to contribute to their creativity (think MacGyverMath) while ensuring progress. It keeps them from letting their perfectionism get in the way.

Rotate! And repeat ... three more times (Note: only two interactions shown below) at 2 minutes a piece.

The teachers are now back at their original lessons. They take 1 minute to read through what has been added to their initial ideas. The sticky notes are used to identify questions for the author or indicate likes (thumbs up). The teachers can also continue to add new ideas based on what they have seen in the other lessons. After 1 minute the teachers rotate again and again and again and again and again. At each lesson they answer questions, add stickies, or contribute ideas.

At the end, the teachers have spent 20 minutes to design a five-day unit.

Yes, there is still some work to do to sift out the essential elements of the lesson. These will be written in the SAFARI format and then shared with their peers for feedback. Finally, the lessons are tested out in the classroom. The next post is about one of those lessons.

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