Participatory Budgeting in Schools#7: In the bright light of Rosenshine

Something as true-to-life as Participatory Budgeting in schools will invariably need to include some Project-Based Learning components across multiple work-groups simultaneously – So, how does that measure up to Barak Rosenshine’s principles of instruction?

The task for the mixed group of delegates on 20 May was to understand Participatory Budgeting as a concept to combine their experiences and unique perspectives to map out an ideal Participatory Budgeting program that will actually work in schools. In order to achieve this, I ran a student-led Accumulative Mind Mapping activity, driven by Cooperative Learning.

The activity had three distinct objectives, dealt with in order:

  1.  Identify ideal outcomes of Participatory Budgeting in schools.
  2.  Identify obstacles
  3.  Identify matching solutions and countermeasures

This activity was placed mid-session: After subject input, but before drafting action plans. For delegates, it served to summarise and organise their newly acquired knowledge to relate it to their professional practice, as well as to confirm and negotiate understanding. For Jez and I, the activity provided a summative assessment of their collective (and individual) understanding, an opportunity to correct misconceptions, and to confirm that our basic idea was reasonably well-founded before moving ahead.


As noted in the previous post, a major obstacle uncovered by delegates during the Accumulative Mind Mapping was the potential mix-up in the mind of decision-makers between unmanageable, work-demanding Project-Based Learning and Cooperative Learning-driven Participatory Budgeting. (This particular knot is unravelled in this Venn diagram).

“Project-Based Learning” – “Too difficult to organise.” From original delegate mind map.

So, before we proceed to discuss the details of the actual activity and its outcomes, it is vital to understand that Cooperative Learning, unlike Project-Based Learning, does in no way negate the fundamental principles of good teaching, such as those summarised by Rosenshine. By holding this activity up against Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, this should be clear to readers.

If you are unfamiliar with Barak Rosenshine, you could do a lot worse than buying Tom Sherrington‘s recent how-to introduction Rosenshine’s Principles in Action. In fact, if you are a teacher, this is a must-have (And I don’t even say that about the book I am writing, so consider that an endorsement).

Follow Tom on Twitter @teacherhead 

Tomorrow’s walk-through will demonstrate that, although its objectives are very different from teaching specific skills or knowledge, the activity nevertheless includes all of Rosenshine’s central components as detailed below. (The bespoke icons are from this succinct overview by Oliver Caviglioli).

Firstly, you will see ample opportunities to check and correct student understanding and to drop in questions targeting individuals or teams at any point. Much more so, in fact, than in a typical front-loaded lesson, because the Cooperative Learning elements generates high volumes of highly granulated visible learning (more in Hand in Glove; SOLO Taxonomy & Cooperative Learning).

Further to this, target outcomes were clearly modelled on the whiteboard, the activity was set up to scaffold (and control the scope) of the first round output. Finally, the activity also incorporated guided practice, because the candid communication between peers reveals the thinking process behind what comes down on paper, replete with misconceptions to be dealt with on-the-fly.

A final crucial point here is that this activity does not take place in a vacuum, but was rather preceded by teacher input on Co-Creative Conversation; the rationale for Cooperative Learning as opposed to group work; and a very detailed presentation of Participatory Budgeting inside and outside schools, all providing models of good practice. In accordance with Rosenshine’s advice on presenting new material using small steps, that input had in turn been interspersed with micro-activities to assist retention. (For more in how Cooperative Learning can be used to process information, please refer to the three event summaries on April’s Spacing & Retrieval Practice with Cooperative Learning).

The next instalment will give a step-by-step walk-through of the Accumulative Mind Mapping activity. Readers will be able to assess for themselves whether it keeps its promises. You can get notifications of related posts on Twitter or join the mailing list for updates.


Participatory Budgeting in Schools#X: A sample activity

A generic mind map w colour-coded layers.

Reminder: Mind-maps, or spider diagrams, begin from a single topic (e.g “Food”) from whence sprout a number of associated ideas (e.g. “vegetables”). These again branch into a new ring of associated ideas, (e.g. “carrots,” “cucumbers”). In Accumulative Mind-Mapping, the theme and tasks associated with each new concentric “ring” is teacher-directed.


Previous posts on Participatory budgeting in schools

Overview of all articles on Participatory Budgeting in Schools is the business end of

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