Designing professional learning using the 4MAT Cycle

I’m always trying to refine the format of professional development workshops I run, continuing to strengthen the opportunities it provides for colleagues to produce great ‘take-aways’ for their own professional practice, at the same time offering the time and scope to ‘play’ and collaborate with colleagues as well.  I heard of the 4MAT Cycle very early on in my career and was directed to it when I was really struggling to teach my classes at the first school I taught at but it wasn’t until recently that I revisited it with the view of it refreshing my mindset on professional learning.  Instructional design is a very big interest and passion of mine and I am always keen to explore better ways of designing lessons and professional activities.

The 4MAT Cycle also closely relates to the work of Kolb and his work on experiential learning.  From diagrams such as the one above and other similar representations of the 4MAT Cycle I have come up with a 10-step cycle I will utilise for professional learning workshops in the next term when engaging colleagues in learning about the SAMR Model. The ten steps I have identified are:

  1. Icebreaker – This is intended to both engage and motivate everyone, creating enthusiasm for learning.
  2. Outcomes – To focus the learning activities and provide an idea of where the workshop will head and where it will finish.  Indicates the knowledge and skills participants should acquire.
  3. Knows and need to knows – Accessing participants background knowledge and engages them in thinking about what questions they have and want answered.
  4. Stimulus/thought-provoker – Introduce the content and topic more, provoke participants to start thinking about the content.
  5. Information/content – Present quick, factual, straight-to-the-point information that will help participants acquire the desired knowledge need for the workshop activities.
  6. Reflection – Individual reflection on a given stimulus/lesson/resource.
  7. Group collaboration – Sharing and reflection within small group about the reflection above.  Preparation of something to share, could be simply verbally sharing.
  8. Present back/share – Groups share what they discussed/created/came up with during group collaboration.  Large group discussion.
  9. Group Reflection – Small groups reflect together on what other groups produced and shared with everyone.
  10. Need to knows – review of need to knows and new knowledge and skills acquired, and any that still need to be addressed.

So this is the structure I am going to go with for about 4 workshop sessions and see how it helps my colleagues to learn the SAMR Model.  I want professional learning to be fun, engaging, collaborative and valuable in that participants have the opportunity to develop something they can take away and work on as well as this will often be the focus of individual and group activities.  More to come once implemented…



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