More about the Workshop Rotation Model

  More about the Workshop Rotation Model  
The Old Model
It has been almost 150 years since Sunday school began and we see that little has changed from the original Sunday school format.  Sure, there might be a craft or two included in curriculums now, maybe even a song or hands-on activity here or there, but the bottom line is that the mainstream Sunday school format still fully relies on a teacher lecturing her children while they sit at their table and listen or follow along in a pamphlet.   This format does not work.  In fact, not only does it not work, but it causes problems:
  • Children become disinterested in Sunday school because it is boring
  • Adults do not want to teach Sunday school because the children are disinterested and there is a lot of preparation required
  • Each week Bible stories are gleaned over so a new one can be taught the following week

Time for a Change
The Workshop Rotation Model began in 1990 when a church in Chicago decided to re-invent Sunday school.  The reasons behind this re-invention were simple:
  • They were tired of boring materials that depended heavinly on a lecture/listen format
  • They were discouraged by the lack of interest in Sunday school shown by children and adults
  • They were tired of the excuses offered by adults not teaching Sunday school
  • They were tired of the students not fully learning or understanding the Bible stories
To remedy their problems the congregation examined their current format of Sunday school, which happened to be the same old mainstream format that’s been around since the 1780's.  After their evaluation it was determined that their format was neither effective nor exciting.  It was also discovered that their current format only catered to those children who were auditory learners, that is, those who learn best by hearing.

After many hours of hard work, detailed discussions, and countless prayers, the congregation developed a riveting new model for Sunday school…the Workshop Rotation Model! 

What is WoRM?
In a nutshell, the Workshop Rotation Model is a unique format that is based upon weekly rotations.  For each rotation a Bible story is focused on and then four different workshops are created to teach that story.  The children are divided up into four groups, and each group visits one workshop each week; the next week the groups rotate to a new workshop.  This rotating continues for a period of four weeks so that all children have an opportunity to experience all four workshops.  At the end of the four weeks a new theme is introduced with four new workshops to support the new theme.

This format is quite brilliant for a number of reasons:
  1. Each Bible story is studied for a period of four weeks.  That means that over the course of one four week rotation each child will have been exposed to the same lesson in four various ways.  This experience really helps children to better learn, understand, and retain information!
  2. Because different workshops are used, children approach the same lesson from four different ways.  For someone who learns best by doing hearing information (auditory learners), he/she will really excel in the storytelling workshop.  For someone who learns best by doing (kinesthetic learners), he/she will thoroughly enjoy the craft or game workshop.  And for someone who learns best by seeing (visual learners), he/she will get the most out of a movie or theatrical workshop.
  3. Because each week brings a new activity, children are more apt to continue to participate in Sunday school, rather than beg their parents to stay home.  They are excited to see what each new Sunday will bring!
  4. And because the children are constantly moving, are more involved, and workshops are varied, the children are less likely to get bored with the lessons.  Instead, they look forward to Sunday school every week.
  5. Because each workshop leader must prepare only one lesson (and then teach it four different times), the preparation beforehand is drastically reduced.  Adults love this!  Plus, as they teach the lesson from week to week, their presentation of it will only improve.
  6. Each rotation is only four weeks long, which means that adults must only commit themselves for a period of only one month.  This is very doable!  And because the time commitment is so short (and because the lessons are so simple), adults are much more likely to volunteer!

And that is the Workshop Rotation Model!  It is easy; it is exciting; and it is revolutionizing Sunday schools across the nation.