1. Education

How To Brainstorm in the Classroom

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Brainstorming is an excellent teaching strategy to generate ideas on a given topic. Brainstorming helps promote thinking skills. When students are asked to think of all things related to a concept, they are really being asked to stretch their thinking skills. All to often, a child with special learning needs will say they don't know. However, with the technique of brainstorming, the child says what comes to mind as it relates to the topic. Brainstorming promotes success for students with special needs as there is no one right answer.

Let's say that the brainstorm topic is Weather, the students would state whatever comes to mind, which would most likely include words like: rain, hot, cold, temperature, seasons, mild, cloudy, stormy etc. Brainstorming is also a terrific idea to do for bell work (when you have just 5-10 minutes to fill just prior to the bell).

Brainstorming is an excellent strategy to:

  • Use in the inclusional classroom
  • Tap into prior knowledge
  • Give all students a chance to express their ideas
  • Eliminate fear of failures
  • Show respect for each other
  • Try something without fear
  • Tap into individuality and creativity
  • Eliminate the fear of risk taking
Here are some basic rules to follow when conducting a brainstorm in the classroom with a small or whole group of students:
  1. There are no wrong answers
  2. Try to get as many ideas as possible
  3. Record all ideas
  4. Do not express your evaluation on any idea presented
Prior to starting a new topic or concept, the brainstorm session will provide teachers with a great deal of information regarding what the student may or may not know.

Here is a list of brainstorming ideas to get you started:

  • What are all the things you can do with a ball? (marble, stick, book, elastic, apple, etc.)
  • How many things are white? blue? green? etc.
  • What are all the methods of travel?
  • How many types of insects, animals, flowers, trees do you know?
  • How many ways can you describe the way something is said? (whispered, shreiked, bellowed, yelled, retorted etc.
  • How many things can you think of that are sweet? salty? sour? bitter? etc.
  • How many ways can you describe the ocean? mountains? etc.
  • What if there were no cars? rain? butterflies, cigarettes?
  • What if all cars were yellow?
  • What if you were caught in a tornado?
  • What if it never stopped raining? What if the school day was only half days? went all year?

Once the brainstorming activity is done, you have a great deal of information on where to take the topic next. Or, if the brainstorming activity is done as bell work, link it to a current theme or topic to enhance knowledge. You can also categorize/classify the student's answers once the brainstorm is done or separate it out and let students work in groups on each of the sub topics. Share this strategy with parents who have children who are insecure about sharing, the more they brainstorm, the better they get at it and thus enhancing their thinking skills.

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