PTC NSWHomeGEMSPreparationStep 7: Conducting a Class Brainstorm

Step 7: Conducting a Class Brainstorm

Brainstorming is the recording of an uninterrupted flow of ideas designed to promote creativity. Mind mapping is the construction of a diagram that shows links between concepts. In this step both brainstorming and mind mapping are used.

The main purpose of the brainstorm/mind map is to show the many areas within a theme and their interrelationships. When you, as a classroom teacher, conduct the brainstorm, you have control over the areas that might be emphasised, expanded and developed. For example in the topic energy, you may wish students to focus on ways of saving energy or on the use of sustainable energy sources (wind and water power) rather than burning coal.

Here are some of the main types of questions you might ask when carrying out the brainstorming/mind mapping. These types of questions are important bridges and examples for the next step in the process where students generate several possible questions for investigation.

Role of teacher questions used in brainstorming

Prompting questions

Bring to the surface student knowledge.

  • Who can think of...?
  • What do you know about...?
  • What are some examples of...?

These questions are used extensively at the beginning of the brainstorming session.

Expanding questions

Ensuring the theme is expanded gives more opportunities for students to find an area that interests them.

  • What are some other types of energy?
  • How could we heat something if there was no electricity?

These questions are often used in the early stages of brainstorming.

Linking questions

Eliciting links between ideas can make areas more relevant.

  • Is there a link between solar energy and plants?
  • Do people dry their wet washing in different ways?

Clarifying questions

Sometimes student suggestions are not clear. Clarification questions can help students communicate their ideas and prompt the ideas of other students.

  • What aspect of energy conservation are you interested in?
  • Can you give me another example of a time when you....?

Analysing questions

Some ideas can be analysed with the view to develop practical investigations.

  • What are some of the features of wind turbines that could be tested here at school?
  • Could we use energy from the sun to cook something?
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