is a large or small group activity which encourages children to
focus on a topic and contribute to the free flow of ideas. The teacher
may begin by posing a question or a problem, or by introducing a
topic. Students then express possible answers, relevant words and
ideas. Contributions are accepted without criticism or judgement.
Initially, some students may be reluctant to speak out in a group
setting but brainstorming is an open sharing activity which encourages
all children to participate. By expressing ideas and listening to
what others say, students adjust their previous knowledge or understanding,
accommodate new information and increase their levels of awareness.
Teachers should emphasize active listening during these sessions.
Students should be encouraged to listen carefully and politely to
what their classmates contribute, to tell the speakers or the teacher
when they cannot hear others clearly and to think of different suggestions
or responses to share.
is its purpose?
focus students' attention on a particular topic
generate a quantity of ideas
teach acceptance and respect for individual differences
encourage learners to take risks in sharing their ideas and opinions
demonstrate to students that their knowledge and their language
abilities are valued and accepted
introduce the practice of idea collection prior to beginning tasks
such as writing or solving problems
provide an opportunity for students to share ideas and expand
their existing knowledge by building on each other's contributions
can I do it?
a small or large group select a leader and a recorder (they may
be the same person).
the problem or idea to be brainstormed. Make sure everyone is
clear on the topic being explored.
up the rules for the session. They should include:
- letting the leader have control.
- allowing everyone to contribute.
- ensuring that no one will insult, demean, or evaluate another
participant or his/her response.
- stating that no answer is wrong.
- recording each answer unless it is a repeat.
- setting a time limit and stopping when that time is up.
the brainstorming. Have the leader select members of the group
to share their answers. The recorder should write down all responses,
if possible so everyone can see them. Make sure not to evaluate
or criticize any answers until done brainstorming.
you have finished brainstorming, go through the results and begin
evaluating the responses. Some initial qualities to look for when
examining the responses include:
- looking for any answers that are repeated or similar.
- grouping like concepts together.
- eliminating responses that definitely do not fit.
that you have narrowed your list down some, discuss the remaining
responses as a group.
is important for the teacher to:
a warm, supportive environment.
that a quantity of ideas is the goal.
evaluative or critical comments from peers.
and provide opportunity for all students to participate.
emphasize the importance of listening to expressed ideas, and
model printing and recording of the ideas, then read each contribution
to or with the group.
can I adapt it?
this procedure to plan a classroom activity such as a research
project, a field trip, a concert or a party.
brainstormed lists of words to be used as spelling resources.
Add to brainstormed lists regularly.
and individuals can use brainstorming to generate prewriting ideas
for stories, poems and songs.
brainstormed words, ideas and suggestions.
brainstormed words and sentences for exploring sentence structures
and for key vocabularies.
and Evaluation Considerations
students' ability to focus on a topic or task in a group situation.
students' participation in the oral expression of ideas.
listening behaviours. (Do students take turns speaking? Do they
ask for clarifications?)
record students' oral language strengths, weaknesses and development
in their files.