A Carousel Brainstorm is an active, student-centered method to generate data about a group’s collective prior knowledge or beliefs on a variety of issues associated with a single topic.
Flip-chart sized papers containing statements or issues for student consideration are posted at strategic locations around the classroom. Groups of students brainstorm at one station and then rotate to the next position where they add additional comments.
The carousel “stops” when the original teams reach their starting locations.Â Each team prepares a summary of the chart at their stopping place and presents it.
- Give general instructions for completing the Carousel Brainstorm.
- Separate the class into equal groups based on the number of stations. Distribute sticky notes and markers to each group.
- Groups brainstorm ideas on the sticky notes, coming up with as many responses as possible. Place sticky notes randomly on the chart paper.
- Use one sticky note per thought or idea. Generally short phrases or sentences work best.
- To encourage creative and open thinking within a group, accept all ideas without evaluating their accuracy or relative importance.
- After a certain time has elapsed, groups move to the next station in a clockwise pattern.
- During each round of the Carousel Brainstorm new ideas are added to expand the information base.
- When groups rotate back to their original positions, the data is collated on a new piece of chart paper.
- Each group’s spokesperson summarizes the findings to the larger group.
- If students maintain a notebook, have them write a summary reflection that captures the essence of what they discovered during the Carousel Brainstorm.
This activity should not be graded.
- To support quality discussion and analysis, use a maximum of 4-6 issue statements, clearly stated problems or questions.
- Place problems, questions or issue statements that stimulate thoughtful discussion on separate pieces of chart paper at different areas of the room.
- Overly difficult questions may frustrate students and inhibit thoughtful generation of ideas.
- Responses to ambiguous questions can prompt great discussions.
- If possible, use differently colored sticky notes for different teams.
English -Â In reviewing a book that the class has been reading, the teacher posts topics and has students enter information that they have gleaned about the book. Topics could include main characters, themes, symbolism, setting, critical events, etc.
History -Â In a unit that targets American leadership, names of several presidents are posted. Students brainstorm information that they already know about these individuals. Posters are displayed prominently through the remainder of the unit. Information is added or deleted from to the lists as the unit unfolds.
Biology -Â The teacher prepares poster lists of the principal cell structures. Students complete the Carousel by adding pictures, drawings, information, or questions about each item.
The Gallery or Graffiti Walk - Instead of questions at each station, various types of images are posted. Students respond to these images by either identifying them, offering information that pertains to the subject of the image, making personal reactions, etc.
Preparation time: 15 / Delivery time: 60