Early January 2020, eight Christian educators gathered online to begin brainstorming lesson ideas about the Lord's Prayer.
Between us, we had well over 200 years of Sunday School teaching experience. Many had been writing their own lessons for years. The exciting challenge before us was to NOT do the "same old." Every Writing Team is called upon to push the creative boundaries, and indeed, each usually comes up with something truly innovative. This Team was no different.
Team members read a number of articles about creative lesson writing. Originally created for our Teams, many of those articles are now part of our public Pulling Back the Curtain Forum.
We started our online collaboration discussing the Bible passage and the Bible Background, and then began flooding our online discussion forum with dozens and dozens of ideas—things we had done, things we had found, and things we'd like to try, and “things your idea made me think of!” Brainstorming with the WT is not for the faint of heart
One of the hardest things to imagine is how we'll get from 100 ideas down to just six or seven! What usually happens, however, is that several interesting ideas and a few crazy ones spawn the terrific ideas that end up in the lesson plans. Patience is a virtue in brainstorming.
Writing lessons about The Lord's Prayer challenged us mightily, in part because it is FULL of theological concepts, has many different versions out there (including Matthew's version), and it addresses the subject of "prayer," which is challenging in its own right. We also took on the responsibility of making sure each lesson helped teach the full prayer into memory while promising to explore keyword meanings. These reasons made this set one of the most challenging ever attempted by a Team.
After several weeks of online brainstorming, we decided how many workshops we wanted to write and which "workshops" we wanted to write (knowing that art, video, and games are givens).
Once lesson assignments were made, the writers began working with the lead writer, Neil, to create their draft. That draft was shared with the Team for more feedback and over time and work(!), the writer and Neil turned it into a lesson plan.
One of the hardest parts for new writers is getting from the idea -to- draft -to- final lesson plan. It's easy to write for yourself or a teacher you know, but shaping your ideas into a Workshop Rotation style lesson and getting it formatted so that it can be used by thousands, takes extra help. That help is provided by our Lead Writer and Editor who improve each lesson before it is published. Every writer also gets feedback from the other writers. It takes an open mind and a humble heart to be a great lesson writer.
We are thrilled with what we came up with...
And so eager to share including...
- How the “Rhythm workshop" uses rhythm in the reading and the study, and not just as an activity after the study.
- We were surprised when what we had anticipated would be a "Prayer Stations Workshop" turned into the stationless, "Why and How We Pray Workshop"—proving that creative "re-thinking" is also a virtue.
- We love the "Daily Pizza Workshop" (it almost wrote itself).
- Wait until you see the Art Workshop's scripture doodling innovation and meaningful "prayer closet” creation.
- We hope you’ll notice how the games in the Games Workshop help visualize and reinforce key word-meanings in the Prayer.
- We’re tickled to have written a Video Workshop that makes a video instead of the usual “watching” of one.
- And we are pleased to offer a Computer lesson you can do without a computer if need be. 😎
Learning from each other is a key part of what Rotation.org and our Writing Team are all about.
One of the great virtues of writing together online and then posting lessons online rather than publishing them on paper, is that we can continue to improve our lessons. Changes are made based on new inspirations and when feedback comes from our Supporting Members.
So tell us what you think, ask questions, and tell us how you used them!
The Team’s lengthy and coordinated online project takes time and money. In addition to paying for our state-of-the-art website, the Writing Team project is managed and led by our experienced lead writer.
Supporting Members and churches make possible everything we do, and that’s the reason Supporting Members get access to these very special lessons.
If you aren't yet a Supporting member, join today.
Would you like to be part of a future Writing Team?
No lesson writing or Rotation experience is necessary (we provide that). We're always looking for open-minded, creative, collaborative, and online-friendly volunteers. Contact Neil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Brief History of the Rotation.org Writing Team
Rotation.org has been organizing volunteer writing teams since the early 2000s. A team would briefly meet in a private discussion forum to exchange ideas and then go their own way to write their drafts which were then edited and posted by our coordinator.
After an extensive review of previously written lessons, in 2015 the Board decided to retire the original sets and write new ones for the same stories. Why? Because our lesson ideas and standards of creativity had grown, and we view Rotation.org and the Model itself as a work-in-progress. We also felt that some of the generously contributed lessons weren't as generously creative as we would have liked. That renewal effort was led by Luanne Payne (then our volunteer President) and Neil MacQueen (our paid Lead Writer and webmaster) and involved every member of our Board at some point. The result was 33 terrific new lesson sets featuring a new standard of creativity and cohesive integrity.
Starting in 2019, thanks in part to a grant from 1st Presbyterian, Birmingham, Michigan, the Board reconfigured the Writing Team around a "lesson writer in training" concept with Neil at the helm recruiting and working with revolving teams of creative Christian educators who wanted to "get better" at writing lessons and were open to peer review. Each Team also continues to involve various Board members as writers and in roles as editors and resource persons.