Brainstorming in the Classroom
Brainstorming in the classroom: a great source of ideas and brilliant for increasing student interaction.
Brainstorming in the classroom is a useful teaching strategy. It is a powerful tool that generates ideas and helps find solutions to problems. Brainstorming has other attributes; it motivates, stimulates, and promotes student interaction. The combined, focused mental power generated during a brainstorming session elevates performance and almost guarantees both individual and group achievement.
It was advertising executive Alex F. Osborn who first began developing methods for creative problem solving back in 1939. He wanted to improve and develop creativity among his executives. To this end, he began to hold group-thinking sessions where ideas and thoughts were shared and discussed and quickly saw a significant improvement in the quantity and quality of ideas produced.
How do I achieve effective brainstorming?
Initially, some students may be reluctant to speak out in a group setting, but this can be overcome by following a few basic steps.
Brainstorming is most productive when conducted in a warm, friendly supportive environment; try to establish an ambient discussion environment.
Put the emphasis on quantity rather than the quality of ideas; encourage students to think outside the box.
Concentrate on collecting ideas initially; discourage evaluation and critical comments from group members during the gathering phase.
As the teacher, encourage and provide opportunity for all students to participate in the session.
How Brainstorming Works in the Classroom
Brainstorming in the classroom encourages students to collectively focus on a subject or particular problem and contribute to the free flow of ideas and problem solving solutions.
Begin by selecting a group leader, chosen from and by the group.
The teacher then begins the brainstorming session by asking a question, posing a problem, or introducing a subject topic.
Students then consider the question/topic and give their idea to the teacher in a short statement. Ideas may be voiced, or written down on sticky notes, anonymously if this is preferred.
During brainstorming sessions ideas and contributions must be accepted without bias, criticism or judgement. Ideas and contributions are written down, usually bullet pointed as they flow thick and fast – to be examined and summarised following discussion by the teacher.
When brainstorming is over its time to go through the results and findings and come up with some useful solutions. To do this the ideas and suggestions need to be ranked. This can be done quickly by a simple show of hands.
Alternatively, the class may be divided into groups or pairs. And here there are several options. One, the groups are given the same topic or question, and paper to write down the group’s ideas and conclusions. These then are discussed, compared and evaluated.
Another variation on the technique is the Pie method – where a circle is drawn and the topic or question is written at the centre point. The teacher then divides the circle into four or six, or even eight parts, with each representing a sub-topic. The groups are then instructed to collectively generate ideas for each of these sub-topics.
Brainstorming – Play Your Cards Right
In the card method of brainstorming, students must list their ideas on a card and pass it to the person on their right. This student reads the idea that is written and adds his comment or own idea to it. Like this, the card is passed around the class with each student contributing an idea to the topic or question in hand.
When a student has no contribution to make or needs additional information in order to reach conclusion, understand better, or be inspired by, they may write a question which could then be discussed by the other members of the group when the card has been passed around.
In conclusion, brainstorming is an effective tool available to teachers: positive thought showers that improve performance, and yields results – one of the many aids teachers should consider for inclusion in their tool-kit.