Core & Theme Day Roadmap

A guide for designing your collaborative education day

Dr. Jonathan St. George


The primary goal of the CORE DAYS is to transform the core content of Emergency Medicine into engaging, interactive,  high quality EM learning.  To do this we are also transforming some of our protected Wednesday conference time into an incubator for designing and developing high quality resident-driven education that meets the needs of its participants. YOU!

CORE DAYS have a deeper vision: a belief that learning can inspirational: that is should be a source of motivation for what we strive to become, and that residents and faculty alike can work together to create a way of learning that values our time by putting the process of how we become better at what we do front and center.

Your Teaching Responsibilities

Work together as a team

  • As the CORE DAY has been designed to replace one of the two PGY4 Core Content lectures, the PGY4  is expected to take the leadership role in designing the day, and is responsible for keeping the team on track. 
  • The CORE DAYS are about teamwork, shared responsibility for our collective learning, and better education through better design.

Take time to consider how to maximize the learning within whatever teaching tool you’re using.

  • The Model of Clinical Practice of EM including EM Procedure Skills is the source for content for the CORE DAYS.
  • After deciding on the topics to be covered,  a list of key learning objectives must be agreed up and then “built-in” to the CORE DAY.
  • Leave time to at the end each station or session to finish with a short summary or debrief.
  • Embedding ITE questions within or after your session
  • Consider using a Google Quiz or other audience response system before/after the session to reinforce your key learning objectives.

Use a flipped classroom model

  • Flipped classroom is an instructional strategy that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content online for prior study, so that  the CORE DAY can focus on deepening understanding through discussion, problem solving, and other active learning activities. 
  • One week prior to your CORE DAY, flipped content should be posted or sent to all residents.
  • Develop an audience response Google Quiz based on the flipped content to assess understanding at the beginning of the CORE day.

Master your assigned content

  • The CORE DAYS are a “learn to teach, teach to learn model” Take your responsibility for teaching yourselves and your colleagues seriously by mastering your content and seeking out mentors and a broad range of resources.
  • Find a content expert you can review your learning objectives with.  This can be a faculty member or an expert from another department. This is not your CORE day mentor.  They are focused on the education design and flow.

Commit to your team meetings

  • It is each team member’s responsibility to coordinate their protected time for team meetings. 3-4 group meetings are required (see timeline below).

Participate in your CORE DAY

  • All team members are required to participate on the day of their assigned CORE DAY. If you are scheduled over your vacation or some other conflict it is your responsibility to switch days or make arrangements to be available for your team early on and notify the chiefs if there is a problem you can’t resolve.

Planning Tips

Keep the momentum going!!!

  • After the initial design challenge day in June, use all the lead time you have because waiting is never a good idea. Excellent educational content requires months of planning.

Set up an online collaborative workspace

  • Consider a google folder for shared project content
  • Consider using a GroupMe or another app to facilitate communication
  • Choose an online platform to share with your colleagues
  • Consider setting up a group chat (Whatsapp or Groupme, etc)
  • Consider scheduling regular video chats

Reach out EARLY to potential guest educators

  • Part of the CORE DAY design means inviting guest educators, from within our department and from other departments across the institution and beyond.  Reach out to them early so they can plan ahead. If they are not available it will also give you more time to find an alternative.

Use FOAM and other online resources

  • There is a large amount of FOAM and other online resources that are great for a flip the classroom model.  Do an in depth search early for high quality online resources you can repurpose to your needs. Consider having your faculty mentor review the resources with you.

Build off of previous successes

  • You do not have to reinvent the wheel every time.  Successful strategies can be reused or modified and improved to suit your needs. The CORE days are an interative process of development. 
  • Reach out to prior groups and ask them how they did it and what worked and what they would do differently.

The Suggested Timeline

  • June Design Challenge
  • Teams are assigned CORE DAY topics
  • Review your topic then:
    • Choose your sub-topics
    • Articulate the three to four  learning objectives for each sub-topic
    • Include at least one related procedure
  • Let the brainstorming begin!!!
  • Then write up your one page outline for your CORE DAY that includes the the above information and a brief outline of your lesson plan.
  • Design Workshops available to assist teams with building out their concepts
  • At 8 weeks prior to core day
  • Pre-scheduled group meeting to solidify ideas, delineation of roles and learning objectives
  • Solidify your Flipped content and how you are are going to deliver it. 
  • The team or it’s representative presents concept outline to the education committee with presenting resident(s) taking feedback to group
  • Contact resources needed (Sim center (Dr. Ching, etc), faculty needed, actors, supplies, technology needed)
  • Submit your simulation request form
  • At 4 weeks prior to core day
  • Pre-scheduled group meeting to make sure team is on track,  review content, and the flow of day
  • Reaffirm key learning objectives
  • Make sure Flipped content is agreed upon and ready to post online
  • Final opportunity to contact resources needed (Sim center (Dr. Ching, etc), faculty needed, actors, supplies, technology needed)
  • After this meeting, individual team members working on their deliverables to present at next meeting
  • At 2 weeks prior to core day
  • Pre-scheduled group meeting 
  • Review content created
  • Confirm outside resources
  • Push out flipped content to entire resident group
  • At 1 week prior to core day
  • Pre-scheduled meeting (everyone asks for same time off from clinical shift) for practice run through for group, including movement of attendees, content presentations, test technology to be used
  • Be sure questions (ITE style) are included in content
  • Confirm printed material
  • Push out additional flipped learning to all residents

List of Tools and Expert Advisors

Some of the tools required to put together your CORE DAY may be new to you or you may be struggling to find the right tool for your learning goals. Below are a list ideas/tools used by prior teams or that have potential for future use.  Next to the tools are mentor/experts who have prior experience with that tool so you can ask for guidance building your educational content.  

  • Gamification (examples include)
    • EM Jeopardy (St George)
    • Escape the Room (Pon)
    • Obstacle Course (a series of timed challenges that require individual and team skills (St George)
  • Panel Discussion
  • Quizzes
  • Problem solving challenges
  • Debate Style
  • SIM  (Naik)
  • Short Talk
  • Deliberate Practice (procedures)
  • Guest Expert(s)
  • Video skills (Cleavon)
  • Spoken Word/Rap (Kai, Cleavon, Jason Hill)
  • Narrative Medicine (Sara Zaidi)