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Editor's Note:

This discussion began with a simple question about, "Having enough time after the Bible study for the great workshop activities."  What it revealed, was how the concept of "workshop" should transform how we think about "study" and the "steps" of our Rotation lesson plans.  Many of the ideas that Neil shared have since been described in detail in our workshop techniques forum.


Your comments are welcome.




Cindy LB posted:


We began using rotation in May for Pentecost. So far things have been going well.


We are small and only need to run 1 workshop at a time right now. We have a 50 minute class time right now and sometimes it seems we are rushing through the activity.  WHY? Because we are taking 15-20 minutes to read and discuss the Bible Story. That only leaves 20-25 minutes for activity plus clean up time.


Many times we are unable to get in any music or memory verse review. Are most of the lesson sets posted here for a 60 minute time frame??


Also, do you spend more time the first week of a rotation on the story and only summarize for the following weeks, or do you do a complete retelling of the story each time?

Any insights would be most helpful.


Thanks, Cindy

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Admin Worm
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Our lesson plans are also 50 minutes long. The Sunday lessons run approximately like this:

5 min. - Opening prayer, attendance, offering, welcome (held in the classroom. We don't have a "gathering place" because we thought it would take up too much of our valuable time).

10-15 min. - Bible story. We read and discuss our Bible stories via piecemeal (i.e. a small portion each Sunday). This gives us a chance to review last week's portion, learn this week's portion, and have the students discuss what they think MIGHT happen in next week's portion.

25 min. - Lesson activities. This time is set aside for the main student's "hands-on" activity (i.e. cooking, craft, movie, etc.).

5 min. - Wrap-up. During this time, we reflect, discuss, clean-up, and have our closing prayer. Instead of using journals, our wrap-up time is visual and oral based.

Hope this helps.

Brenda V.

Hi Cindy...welcome to the Rotation community.

Three thoughts:

(1) The "sensation of needing to rush" through a 50 minute lesson may be a "hold over" from the traditional approach. In the old style of Sunday School, we felt like we had to squeeze every last bit of blood and meaning out of every lesson, because next week the subject changed! Rotation says: if you don't get to it all this week, relax, they'll get the same story again next week in the next workshop. 

(2) Many Sunday Schools have "lost time" due to their schedules (especially those which begin once the kids leave worship), and the culture of not showing up on time and getting started late. A few years ago, our Writing Team started writing for "40 minute" lesson periods, whereas before we were writing for 50 minutes. We also started writing "adaptations" for those with less time. Thus, using the Writing Team's lesson plans might be one of the answers for you.

If your Sunday School time is getting "squeezed," then you definitely want to use the Rotation Model so that you can still spend several weeks on every Bible story rather than 52  different lessons a year that are all too short.

(3) Traditional thinking about the lesson plan (and using the wrong Rotation curriculum). Traditional lesson plans view the "activity" as the thing you do between the scripture and reflections (between the talking). Whereas in Rotation Model lesson thinking, we have been moving away from that kind of "compartmentalization" and towards making the read/discussion/reflection PART of the activity (infusing them with activity), rather than viewing the activity as the "boredom" relief.  More about #3 below!

Traditional vs Rotation Lesson Plans

Traditional thinking about the lesson plan tends to draw a hard line between the Bible study and learning activities that traditionally come after the study. At its worst, this traditional way of thinking about lesson plans views the Bible study as the "real teaching," and the activity as the entertainment (what to do when the kids get bored).   Old habits can be hard to break.

Whereas in Rotation Model thinking, we've been trying to move away from "compartmentalization" and low expectations and infuse the traditional "staid" elements, like reading the scripture, with reading activities.

A traditional lesson plan looks like this:

1. Welcome, warm-up (5 min)

2. Read the Bible & Discuss (15 min)

2. Activity (15 min)

3. Reflection/Prayer  (10 min)

To be sure, there are times when my Rotation lessons LOOK like that, and you can read a lot of lessons at that still use such terminology. BUT... my FAVORITE lessons are those where the "Bible Study" is a workshop-inspired activity, and not just a time of reading and talking before we get to the activity.

Some of the best examples of this "new" way of thinking about Rotation Lesson Plans can be found in the Writing Team's lesson sets, especially those written AFTER 2018. We've been making a concerted effort to transform the "reading of scripture" and its discussion into activities, instead of just being "read and talk."  


The Writing Team's Lord's Prayer Art Workshop is a great example of infusing the "reading" with art activity of "Scripture Doodling."  Supporting Members can read that lesson plan. Everyone can read the Scripture Doodling how-to article.  The "doodling" of the reading actually creates part of the material which gets put into the art project (a prayer closet).

Neil MacQueen

Updated comments and editing for readability added by Wormy.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Excellent reply.
And excellent reminder for all of us. I'd like to use your reply to share with our teaching teams. It's easy on Sunday mornings, as well as in preplanning, to loose focus of the concept of the rotation model.
Thanks Neil smile
You're right. I was trying to put everything into compartments. Bible study first, then the activity. I think I understand what you mean by integrating the activity right into the lesson.
I will post a video lesson I wrote yesterday after reading your reply. Let me know if I'm on the right track. wink The lesson is based on the video, The Ministry of Paul, as we are studying Paul's many adventures.
Thanks, Cindy smile

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