Carousel Brainstorming

This cooperative learning technique can be used for brainstorming about new topics or reviewing learned information. It allows for small group discussion, followed by whole-class reflection, and allows for higher level thinking skills. Other PROS:

  • Fosters discussion and brainstorming
  • Lots of movement - students like the kinesthetic aspect of this strategy
  • Opportunities for students to work on oral presentation skills

So how do you do this?

  1. Choose several major new or review topics/concepts. Write each topic/question at the top of a piece of chart paper, and tape the paper to the wall.
  2. Divide your class into groups of three or four and assign each group a different colored marker to write their responses on the chart paper.
  3. Assign each group to a starting piece of chart paper.  Give them 1-2 minutes to discuss the topic among their group members and then write down everything they know or have learned about the topic.
  4. After 1-2 minutes, each group rotates to the next station where they will read what's written, discuss it with their group, and add new information without repeating what is already there. Later groups are forced into higher level thinking skills to avoid repetition. Students can also write questions about things that other groups wrote. Continue until each group is back to their original chart paper.
  5. Wrap up the brainstorming session by student-led discussion of the topics and questions on each piece of chart paper.
  6. Have your students organize the information from the brainstorming session by using a graphic organizer, writing a summary, taking photos or posting it to a Padlet or other digital archive.

Watch It In Action

Tech Tool Tie-In

While students may enjoy the movement of a paper version rotation, this can also be completed digitally using Stormboard or any other online brainstorm tool.  With Stormboard, students can brainstorm, organize, prioritize and act on the best ideas, in the same room or around the world, on a realtime sticky note whiteboard. Students can login with their student Google account to quickly set up their brainstorm session.

Bonus Resource

You can expand your Carousel Brainstorm into a full lesson where each task builds on others using stations.  Take a look at this Carousel lesson in a high school math classroom.