We're just getting started with Rotation and the first meeting of our Curriculum Design Team is a couple of days away. I was just wondering if there is a 'normal' pattern regarding how much the design team does and how much each workshop does in the development of the lesson plan. From what I've been able to read it seems that some design teams do the whole lesson (presumably having at least one member of each workshop on the design team) while other design teams come up with the concepts, objectives, memory verse etc. and pass what they've done on to each workshop leader for them to do the outline according to their individual media. Am I right in this? Is there a preferable method?

Exchange Volunteer renamed title of post for clarity.
Original Post
Preferable method? Hmmm. I imagine that depends a lot upon your individual church and what people want and expect from the program. I can tell you what we do.

We encourage teachers to come up with ideas and adjust the lesson plan, but most of the teachers (except the teachers on our curriculum team) don't seem to want that much freedom/responsibility. Part of the reason WoRM appealed to them was that it meant less preparation time, not more. Also, we have a lot of people involved that are new to teaching and they want guidance. So we give teachers a complete lesson plan. (That's our church - it might not be, yours.)

Here's our process. We have a six year scope and sequence in place. (Personally, I think that's key) Our process is to have a team get together quarterly -- preferably about six months before the lesson is needed -- and brainstorm what we could do in each workshop. Everyone is asked to look over the scripture ahead of time, and make notes. We tend to brainstorm four six week sessions at a time (we do Wednesday nights, too) which takes about 2-1/2 hours.

Part of my job is to have an idea of available resources in video and computer to help us make those decisions. I also usually scan this website and jot down a few ideas. As a group we decide on the lessons and the "angle" we will use in each lesson. Then one person (again, me-the paid staff) writes it up into a tidy lesson plan complete with Biblical background, list of supplies, goals for the session, memory verse, and opening, main, and closing activities. We also include suggestions for if you have too much or too little time, adjustments for age levels, etc.

I take 2-3 months to write up the lesson plans and hand them back to the curriculum team for input. I make changes, and locate teachers. We want to be sure that format is consistent and that everything is in one place when we go to reuse it at the end of our six year rotation. More work now, means less work later.

Regardless of whether one person or many people write the lesson plans, you should probably have a consistant format that you use. The Writing Team Lessons posted on this website are good formats to copy. If your teachers do want to design their own lessons, encourage them to turn in some notes so that 3, 5 or 6 years from now you aren't "reinventing the wheel."

Hope this helps!

Andrew --
I'll echo Lisa ... so much depends on your congregation and the make up of people/personalities/leadership style there. I happen to have been in 4 churches in the last 4 years ... all have viewed the curriculum writing as my job. Some teachers have offered their own spin on the lessons, or offered their own enhancements. Others have been grateful to have very detailed plans to stick with.
I'm currently part time in 2 churches. The leadership in both has been very trusting and hands off ... I do the writing and get the curriculum to teachers a week or two before a new rotation is to start. IN both churches (small to moderate size), we have a pretty stable base of folks that participate from rotation to rotation, so I'm not having to do orientation work each time. I have also been in a rather large church here with a mega budget ... their organizing team (before my time) opted to buy some rather expensive curriculum as the basis for their rotations ... it then was my job to "tweak" it to fit their unique needs. Teachers changed every rotation there, so I had to get curriculum ready and orient them a bit earlier (but not much).
I have also made it a practice to have everythign ready for teachers so all they have to do is come in and teach ... they don't have to spend time (and money) tracking down supplies.
Good luck and blessings on your efforts!

Exchange Volunteer corrected spelling (so that meaning is now clear).
I'm part of a small group of individuals who write the material for our rotation lesson. One of the reason I got into doing this is I was tired of receiving the lessons with only a couple of weeks to prepare (maybe I'm outside the box from most people) or getting it handed to me the morning of the first Sunday rotation. I want time to view, understand it, take it in, ask questions if I need to and learn it in case in the middle of class it isn't working in the back of my mind I at least can have a back up plan (or improvise using the objective and goals given to me.)

I do feel it would probably depend on the group you are working with. What gifts has God graced your congregation with? I like it with just a couple of us writing a certain rotation (ex: computer, temple). Where another church in our town had a group of people to brainstorm with and write the lessons.

Blest be the Tie the binds us. Smile

I'll echo the comments of most people on this topic -- it really depends on your individual church -- one of the great blessings of Rotation!

Here's how we do it:
We have a Curriculum Design Team consisting of 7 people (one person per workshop). (This also includes an elementary teacher and I have taken classes in Christian Education and am awaiting my final approval as a certified Christian educator). Our pastors are available on a consultant type basis for any theological questions. We meet monthly. I am the elementary coordinator (volunteer). We have a six year scope and sequence which we developed after our first full year of rotation. We do continue to tweak it also though. Before our meeting I research the story, write the Background information, based on my research, develop some draft objectives, and a possible Memory verse. I actually try to get this together about 1 week before our meeting and email it to everyone so they have a chance to read it before our meeting. I also review all of our old files containing old curriculum (a VERY good suggestion to pull apart your old curriculum and VBS -- we too, never threw anything out!) and file it according to story. I copy any ideas for the individual workshops and download information from this site and copy the specific workshop ideas. Each person on our Dream team gets the corresponding packet of information for his/her individual workshop along with the background information and overview. We meet over dinner, discuss the overall stuff that is going on, then review the story and brainstorm different ideas. We finalize the objectives and memory verse at the meeting. They take their ideas and our discussion and write a lesson. They each are assigned partners. Each person e-mails his/her lesson to a partner for proofing and to make sure that all ideas/activities are clearly explained. they then email me the proofed lesson and I do the final edit, make copies and make out the schedule. Oh, our Dream team also recruits the teacher for their workshops! This works very well for us. It is a great deal of work for me, but I enjoy it because I have learned so much through the study and the writing process. When we started out, I pulled together the entire rotation, but within about 6 months we developed our team. Our lessons are much better since we have gone to a team approach (more people=more ideas!). We use a lesson plan template that we developed. I basically looked at everything available on the web and purchased and cut and pasted to get what we liked best. Once the team has this in their computers, it's easy to just cut and paste for each new lesson. We continually tweak our template and process in an attempt to improve. If you search this site for lessons posted by myself Jaymie Derden, you can see some of our lessons (although they are our earlier ones -- so not AS good as what we are doing now!)


Our process is similar to the ones detailed above. We used the excellent article at from Kirk of Kildaire Church, Cary North Carolina, as the starting place for our process and adapted their lesson template to our needs.

We are a new church with a part-time person in charge of children's ministries. I am a volunteer and have taken on the coordinator role.

It takes a fair amount of time to do the planning and coordinating and final edits so everything is consistent format (I don't like to think about exactly how much). I review this web site and forward lesson plans that look like they will be helpful to the other members of the writing team (right now we have a small team with just 3 people, counting me. I have generally been the one to write the extra workshop, as we have 4 workshops per rotation. I recommend having at least as many writers as you have workshops -- a few extras would mean more ideas during brainstorming and a rotation off on occassion).

In theory, our process should take four weeks, since we start a new rotation every four weeks. We have a teacher Bible study about 2 weeks before the rotation and I like the teachers to have the lesson plan at least a week before that, so I count backwards from that date to set the deadlines.

We have a six year scope and sequence, which is posted here.

The theoretical process:

1. E-mailed Bible study notes from pastor.

2. We individually do our own Bible study and share thoughts and questions via e-mail.

3. E-mail brainstorming (be sure to copy all committee members): rotation objectives, memory verse, workshop ideas. Also, check internet and your personal library for ideas and lesson plans that can be adapted. Suggest related music/songs.

(I set the schedule so steps 1-3 overlap wrapping up the previous rotation)

4. Agree on workshop objectives, memory verse, and which four workshops are to be included.

5. Team members select for which workshop(s) they will write plans. Write a brief summary of the workshop idea and share it so we can be sure our workshops are complementing each other.
(one week for this step)

6. Write lesson plans. E-mail other team members with questions, run ideas past them, etc. If you get really stuck, ask a team member for help. A phone call may result in some productive brainstorming.

7. E-mail first draft lesson plans to committee members for comments.
(about 2 weeks for this process)

8. Committee chair writes background notes and parents's flyer.

9. Make any needed revisions and submit lesson plan to committee chair for final edit and to pastor for theological review.
(about 1 week for this step)

10. Lesson plans distributed to teachers.
Note: our lesson plans are posted here at rotation.org.

We agreed that meeting monthly for Bible study and brainstorming would be ideal, but may not be practical each month. We have been trying this e-mail model to see how it works. So far, the Bible study and brainstorming has not been good (mostly nonexistent). We really need face to face meetings to get people to focus. We are thinking about trying to set face to face planning meetings for every other month and plan two rotations at a time.

The length of time spent writing one lesson plan varies, depending on how much research needs to be done (I spent some time finding out about Michelangelo for the Creation Art lesson plan), whether or not a video has to be watched and how often, and how complete a lesson plan I can find at this site to adapt. We write detailed lesson plans, because as others have noted above, we have inexperienced teachers who like things written out in detail. I would say I spend about 8 hours on one lesson plan, start to finish.

We have been doing rotation since March of this year, so we are still in the trial and error process. If we have any great revelations, I will share them, but as others have noted above, your process will depend on your church's staff and volunteers' gifts. And also on the Holy Spirit. There have been many times when I have gone back to re-read something I wrote (usually late at night) and I don't know where it came from --certainly not me! There is a reason the word Spirit can be found in inspiration! (well, it's sort of misspelled, but you know what I mean....)

Amy Eek

(who is very tired this week and needs to finish off David and Goliath so we can move on to the next story)

[This message was edited by Amy Crane on August 11, 2003 at 12:49 AM.]

I only want to add a couple of additional comments to this discussion from my experience.

Amy - you are right about needing to meet face to face. We have tried several different ways but right now we cover one story per meeting. We meet on a Sunday morning before church for one hour. We meet every 5 weeks (5 week rotation). We have one writer per workshop. One workshop has 2 writers who take turns.

The writers have their own workshop. It helps them to come in thinking about how to express the story in their medium. I found that inexperienced writers have a more difficult time getting focused if they don't at least know the main workshop activity (puppets, drama, video, etc) ahead of time.

Each writer becomes more experienced in their own workshop venue. We recently asked if anybody on our team wanted to switch and the answer was no. Their experience made it easier (and faster) to write up a lesson plan.

We meet to write a lesson at least 2 months in advance of the unit. We take about 3 weeks to write it, another 2 weeks for editing. We mail a lesson to the workshop leader 3 weeks in advance of the unit start. We conduct a Bible study for the workshop leaders 2 weeks in advance. At any one time there are 3 different units in some stage of the process!

Our lessons are complete and most workshop leaders follow the lesson pretty closely. We encourage the workshop leader to be creative within the material given, but not make significant changes. I can recount a situation where the workshop leader took the lesson in a completely different direction that did not teach the concepts of the story and in fact sent the wrong message. It gets tricky to guage.

That is one reason for the workshop leaders Bible study. There are several other reasons we find this an important step. You can make sure that workshop leaders remember and followup with anyone who doesn't come! It allows a time to share the plans and ask questions so everyone knows how their part of the lessons contributes to the whole unit. It is an opportunity to have an adult Bible study and make sure the adults understand the concepts (we are teaching adults too).

Keep your process flexible and open to new ideas and ways to improve. There is always something to try.

Catherine Wink

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