Brainstorming is a creative problem solving method developed by Alex F. Osborn. It is a tool used to promote ideas created in groups rather and individually. Brainstorming was created by Osborn to allow his company to develop creative ideas as a group since they were struggling to meet this goal individually. Brainstorming has been successful when applied in different environment settings such as in the field of business, government, industries, and in education. Brainstorming can be used to express ideas on issues to engage in, create possible solutions for problems, and offer a variety of approaches to use, or opinions on actions to take. We use brainstorming in the classroom to stimulate ideas on topics for writing, reading, problem solving in math, science, and social studies. Brainstorming in education can start as early as Kindergarten. Not only does brainstorming offer a variety of opinions and ideas from the students, but it also improves the peer interaction in the classroom. Students communicate with each other, give their thoughts and opinions on broad categories, and work together to problem solve. Brainstorming can be used in small groups, and as a whole class group to combine ideas and create list based on everybody’s suggestions. “Small group interaction has long been cited as an effective teaching technique. This interaction is of importance because the pupil has the opportunity to become actively involved in the process of learning”. (Wood, 2001) Brainstorming can be used throughout all the academic subjects in school, but it is crucial when used in writing. It is a strategy that can be used in the planning stage of writing. In the planning stage students begin to organize their thoughts. Class discussions such as brainstorming together can establish the topic, type, purpose, and audience of the composition. Rodriques states that “prewriting activities, including group brainstorming, are the most important part of the writing process”. (Rodriques, 1983) There are two ways for people to communicate with each other by writing and speaking. Writing allows students to express their feelings and thoughts as well as to communicate with one another. Writing skills are essential for students to develop and brainstorming assists students in writing. Brainstorming is highly recommended to allow students to create list of ideas and topics they can use to write. Brainstorming facilitates the writing process and prevents writing blockage. Many time students have difficulties in writing because they haven’t established topics or ideas, by brainstorming together the students come up with ideas they can build on when writing. Brainstorming is a very beneficial strategy since it can help a team encourage creativity, rapidly produces a large number of ideas, equalize involvement of all the team members, and foster a sense of ownership.
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Several studies were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of brainstorming when writing. One study created by Orson concluded that a group using brainstorming produced 44% more useful ideas than individuals thinking up suggestions without the benefit of group discussion. A review of brainstorming research was conducted and it concluded that 16 studies found support for the productivity of brainstorming versus contributing ideas individually. (Isaksen, 1998) The overall outcome of the Isaken review determined that based on the studies compiled brainstorming groups produced more ideas than individuals working alone. A study conducted by Troaia and Graham examined the effectiveness of planning strategies for writing in fourth and fifth graders with learning disabilities. Twenty fourth and fifth grade students with learning disabilities from two suburban elementary schools in Atlanta participated in this study. The participants were divided into the experimental treatment group and the comparative treatment group. The experimental treatment group received advance planning strategy instruction of goal setting, brainstorming, and organizing. The comparative treatment group received a modified version of process writing instruction. This approach is compatible with the process writing instruction that students regularly receive in the classroom. The study showed that the students who received more time planning stories and brainstorming ideas before writing, produced stories that were qualitatively better. A month after the instruction had ended students who were taught the planning strategies maintained their advantage in story quality, but also produced longer stories than those produced by their peers who were just taught the writing process.
The results tell me that teachers need to promote brainstorming during the planning stage of the writing process. Teachers need to teach students the rules of brainstorming by providing constant modeling, plenty of opportunities to practice brainstorming, and scaffolding. Teachers need to provide students with explicit directions on how to use the brainstorming process. It is very important that teachers not only teach students how to brainstorm together, but also teach them the guidelines for an effective brainstorming session. Teachers need to emphasize that judgment of ideas is not allowed, eccentric ideas are encouraged, a large quantity of ideas is preferred, and students should build on one another’s ideas. Being a first grade teacher I know the importance of building the students writing skills early and preparing them for the future. I have seen many teachers in many grades not promoting writing as much as other subjects. I believe that in first grade writing is as equally important as reading. Students are reading to write and writing to read. Reading and writing are interdependent to each other and the success of leaning this is very beneficial for students. Teachers need to know that in order for students to develop strong literacy skills, they need to combine reading and writing instruction and create reading and writing activities.
Objective: When given a writing prompt, students will use the brainstorming process and steps of the writing process to write a story.
Participants: 2nd grade students in an inclusion classroom
Materials: writing paper, white board or chart tablet paper, marker and writing utensils.
The teacher tells the students they are going to learn a new strategy today called brainstorming. The teacher provides the students with more details on the brainstorming process including the rules and guidelines of using this process. The teacher will remind the students that brainstorming is done in the planning stage of the writing process.
The teacher models the strategy for the students following all the steps and providing plenty of examples on this strategy. The teacher asks the students for feedback of the process and answers student’s questions.
The teacher will then break up the students in groups of 4 to practice this strategy. The teacher will make one person from the group a leader and another person the secretary. The leader’s role is to make sure the group stays on topic and everyone is participating. The secretary’s role is to write down ideas the group is providing. The teacher reminds the students that the guidelines are to rule out critical judgment, eccentric ideas are encouraged, a large quantity of ideas are preferred, and that they should build on one another’s ideas.
The teacher provides the students with a practice prompt to allow them to practice this strategy. This also allows them to experiment with the process and ask questions they may have now that they are practicing the strategy.
After 15 minutes of practicing the teacher calls the students back to the carpet to talk about what they experienced and to try to fix any problems that might have come up as they were working together.
The teacher then gives the students the prompt that they will be writing for their composition: Pretend you are visiting Santa’s workshop the week before Christmas. Write a story to your friends describing what the workshop is like. Make sure you provide details of things you saw, people you met, things you ate, and what you did during your adventure. Remember to start your story with an exciting topic sentence to captivate the attention of your friends. Don’t forget to use beginning, middle, and end in your story as well as plenty of adjectives. Check your writing for correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Use the editing checklist to help you with your writing.
The teacher separates the students back into their groups and ask them to brainstorm ideas that can be used with this prompt. The teacher leaves the prompt on the board to allow students to refer to it as they are coming up with their ideas. Once again the students are reassigned to their roles of leaders and secretaries. The students are given 20 min to come up with ideas.
After 20 minutes, the students come together to the carpet to report their ideas. Each group states their ideas as the teacher writes them down on a chart paper. After all the groups have said their ideas, the teacher reviews all the ideas from the chart paper.
The chart paper is displayed throughout the writing process so students can refer to it as needed.
The teacher reviews the rest of the writing process stages: planning, drafting, revising and editing, and the final draft. The teacher also reviews the rubric that will be used to grade their stories. The teacher provides the students with examples and non examples on ways to receive a 4 on their writing.
The students go back to their desk and for the next four days work on the completion of their composition.
The students are given a self check and peer editing checklist to use during the revising and editing process.
After they have completed their composition the teacher asks for volunteers to present their stories in the author’s chair.
Evaluation: The students will be evaluated using a writing rubric.
Author’s Name: _________________ Title of Work: _________________
Peer’s Name: ___________________
Directions: Use this checklist to check over your paper. Mark the column with a ƒ¼ after you have checked the paper carefully. Then have a peer complete the Peer Editor column and mark the column with a ƒ¼ as they check your paper.
Is the prompt followed correctly?
Does the writing make sense?
Does the paper have complete sentences?
Do sentences start with a capital letter?
Are proper nouns capitalized?
Do sentences have ending marks?
Are words spelled correctly?
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