1 Introduction and ice breakers
It is imperative that you read the text of this session and the following sessions very carefully, and clarify any issues. You should make the learning intentions and the success criteria for the sessions explicit to the participants, perhaps by writing them on the board or printing them out separately. These should be referred to when appropriate as you proceed through the session/s.
Welcome to the first workshop of the OER4Schools programme. The facilitator will now guide you through some introductory activities.
As part of this, you have the opportunity to discuss
- a weekly time for the workshops,
- whether you are going to use first or second names,
- your expectations,
- whether participants need to come on time, or report in if they are ill,
- keeping a register,
- the use of the ICT equipment, and
- any other suggestions, ideas, and concerns you may have.
At this point, you should make a programme agreement, as a set of "ground rules".
Record some of the outcomes from the discussion above, for instance recording ground rules like this:
- We keep a register of attendance, that will be shared with the head teacher.
- Because we respect each others time, we pledge to arrive on time, and stay for the duration of each workshop.
- We implement activities in our classroom.
- When you discuss ICT use later in this session, you should also devise a rota for ICT equipment use.
You can revisit these rules as the programme continues, but for now it is important to make them.
Write the rules down on paper, and keep them available. Perhaps put them up in the room where the workshops take place. You could get participants to sign the sheet as well, to firm up the commitment.
2 Brainstorm on interactive teaching
You are now starting the first activity. Make sure that participants are alert and excited. If necessary, do another quick ice breaker and then launch into the first activity.
Record the brainstorm. The facilitator writes on a board or a large sheet of paper, or makes notes for everybody to see on the overhead projector. Alternatively, participants write on small pieces of paper which are placed on a table. If there are no facilities, then it is okay to not make a record. There should be no evaluation of responses when using the brainstorming technique.
- What is interactive teaching?
- What interactive techniques do you know?
- How often have you used such techniques?
What is a "whole group brainstorm"?
Make it clear to the participants that you want to hear from everyone, and that they shouldn't worry if they're not sure, but they should have a go at making a suggestion. We will develop our collective understanding as time goes on (what are teachers’ expectations?). There are no wrong answers, just ideas. Here we have used a number of questions to give participants an idea of how wide-ranging their responses can be. The aim of this brainstorm is to find out what participants know, think and feel about interactive teaching.
If participants are not very forthcoming, probe them with additional questions, e.g. 'What do you think interactive teaching might be? Is it the same as learner-centred teaching?'
If you are part of our “facilitators program”, use the tools provided to capture the discussion.
3 Brainstorming in the classroom
The following activity is same-task group work, done in pairs. So for this part of the session you are doing group work, and each group is a pair. Just ask participants to turn to each other.
Same-task group work (5 min): Discussion in pairs about what brainstorming(a) looks like in the classroom. Now that we have done a brainstorm in the workshop, what does a brainstorm in the classroom look like? Do you think your students would like this activity? How could you make sure that all students get actively involved? Discuss this with your neighbour.
Make sure that participants get the idea of what a brainstorm is.
You do not need to go round all the groups. You can just ask whether people have more to add.
- What are you noticing?
- At what point(s) in the lesson could this be used?
- What do you think the students are learning from this?
- How are they learning?
- Can brainstorming be used with large classes too, where there isn’t time for everyone to contribute each time? How would you adapt it for this?
- What are the benefits of brainstorming?
- What makes a brainstorm successful?
- What do you think about the teacher's comment "since I want all of you to participate, no hands up, OK"?
This clip from a Grade 3 classroom illustrates how the teacher solicits (and records) different students’ views without evaluating them.
Note that the clip shows the start of a session but it can be done at any point in a lesson. It shows a brainstorm – with unique contributions – allowing time to think first, 'no hands up’(a) technique.
Workshop participants continue with the discussion.
During the discussion, record what participants are contributing. You could do this on a piece of paper or on the board. You could also appoint a scribe who does this for you, leaving you free to manage the discussion.
Benefits of brainstorming include:
- giving everybody an opportunity to speak,
- encouraging students to contribute a large range of ideas,
- reducing the fear of risk taking, and
- showing respect for all participants (making sure that students do not laugh at each other).
At the end of the discussion, summarise the outcomes of the discussion, including any key points the participants have made.
Observing, thinking, reflecting (5 min): Summary. Summarise, and discuss the proper meaning of what a brainstorm is. You can refer to OER4Schools/activities/brainstorming to find out more.
Make sure that all participants understand what a brainstorm is.
What is the purpose of a brainstorm? It can have many purposes, but one purpose is that a brainstorm is a good way of finding out what they already know. So to go from the "known to the unknown".
4 Planning an activity - “activity template”
Whole class dialogue (10 min): Discussion on activity plans. Have a brief discussion about current practice on lesson planning. Consider such things as: Where do the lesson plans themselves come from? What do you think about the activities that are being done? Can you see a way that new activities could be introduced alongside your current lesson plans? Do you foresee any difficulties in doing this?
Discuss with the participants how they plan their lessons and how the new interactive activities that they are being introduced to can work within their current plans.
In designing 'activities', we do not aim to replace whole lesson plans. We simply try to make some activities in the lessons more interactive.
Introduction (10 min) to activity templates. In this section, we consider strategies to incorporate new interactive elements in your lessons, including things you might say and do. To help you structure your planning, we provide an activity template. The template includes details of:
- what the activity is (a technique such as a brainstorm, group work, mini blackboard use, plus an activity in which it is used, e.g. “a brainstorm on what animals are found in your environment”),
- the grade,
- the subject & lesson topic,
- what the (learning) objective of the activity is (e.g. to find out what students already know about topic X),
- resources to be used (such as blackboard, mini blackboards, paper, objects, etc.), and
- how the activity is carried out.
Same-task group work (10 min): Planning in pairs for activity templates. Break into pairs, and capture the activity (shown in the video above) in the activity template. Remember to include the 'no hands up(a)' technique - this works very well with brainstorming, but can also be used for general questioning.
5 Planning a brainstorm activity
Same-task group work (5 min): Planning in pairs of a brainstorm activity. Break into pairs, and plan a brainstorm together. The pairs should be arranged, so that it will be possible to do this brainstorm with your class (e.g. pair by grade, or pair by subject). As you plan, share your ideas with your partner as much as possible, and listen attentively to their ideas and feedback.
Here are some questions you could consider to help you plan:
- What do you need to know about students’ knowledge or understanding of the topic? What will you ask them to brainstorm about?
- What will you do with the results? How will you build on that in the rest of the lesson?
- What are you teaching next week?
- What is the topic of your brainstorm?
- What makes for a good topic?
The topic of the brainstorm needs to generate lots of ideas. Look out for topics that have correct responses and/or are narrow in scope, e.g. name the parts of a flower. This would not be a suitable topic to brainstorm, instead the topic could be 'what do we know about flowers?'. (Further questions could be asked by the teacher as the brainstorm proceeds in order to find out the depth of the students' knowledge). Encourage participants to accept all responses without evaluation, and, if possible, to make a note of them for all to see.
Same-task group work (5 min): Planning in pairs to revise the planned brainstorm activity. Based on what you have learned from the brainstorm trialling activity, revise your brainstorm, making sure that you have phrased your topic in a way that will generate lots of ideas. You can do this activity in pairs, but each one of you should plan an individual brainstorm activity that you will use with your class before the next session.
6 Follow-up activities
Part A: Practical classroom activities and reflection. Complete an activity template for the brainstorm activity that you planned and revised in this session. Do the activity with your class, and be prepared to reflect on how it went.
Part B: Don’t forget to bring your activity plans again, as well as your recorded reflections. (Use your dictaphone if you have one, or make notes on paper or electronically)
Remind participants to do their activities. They may want to review the notes that have been handed out, as well as read the background text available below.
As the facilitator, you should also do a reflection on how this first workshop went - please see facilitator reflection for Unit 1!
In the next session, these follow-up activities will be reviewed. If you are using this session on its own, you can have a look at the review of follow-up activities here.
7 Activity template
The activity template is available on this page for printing: OER4Schools/activity template:
Downloadable version: (info)
| What is the activity?
| Lesson topic
| What is the (learning) objective of the activity?
| Resources used
| How is the activity carried out? Write out all the steps in detail.
Here is a photograph of a completed activity template for a lesson on conduction. Note that one template can be used for multiple activities:
At the end of each session, we provide an overview of the activities in this session, together with their suggested timings. Although this appears at the end of the session (for technical reasons), you should keep an eye on this throughout the session, to make sure that you are pacing the workshop session appropriately!
Total time: 130 (min)
Activities in this session:
- Whole class dialogue (30 min): Introduction to the programme.
- Whole class brainstorm (10 min) on interactive teaching.
- Same-task group work (5 min): Discussion in pairs about what brainstorming(a) looks like in the classroom.
- Whole class dialogue (5 min): Reporting back from the discussion.
- Observing, thinking, reflecting (5 min): Watch video of a brainstorm.
- Whole class dialogue (15 min): Discussion on the brainstorm video.
- Observing, thinking, reflecting (5 min): Summary.
- Whole class dialogue (10 min): Discussion on activity plans.
- Introduction (10 min) to activity templates.
- Same-task group work (10 min): Planning in pairs for activity templates.
- Same-task group work (5 min): Planning in pairs of a brainstorm activity.
- Whole class brainstorm (5 min) of participant's suggestions.
- Whole class dialogue (5 min): Discussion of the trialled brainstorm activity.
- Same-task group work (5 min): Planning in pairs to revise the planned brainstorm activity.
- Agreeing follow up activities.(5 min).
If you have printed this session for offline use, you may also need to download the following assets: