Activity 1: Guided Brainstorming

Activity 1: Guided Brainstorming

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Circular single brainstorm

Students stay in a circle; the first student speaks expressing an opinion about the topic selected. The following one continues, linking to something said to incorporate a comment that was referred to by the prior student by either agreeing or disagreeing with the prior student’s statement and providing their reasons why. The communication continues around a circle of discussion. This method allows for each student to reflect on their peers’ opinions and thoughts while presenting reasons for challenging or not challenging them.

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Brainstorm in group

Teacher writes four or five issues/questions related to a common topic onto separate sheets of large paper. Each sheet needs to have a different issue, topic or question under discussion. Each sheet is placed on a separate desk or part of the room.

The class is divided into the same number of groups as sheets.

Each group should discuss and record its ideas about the issue/question on the sheet within a limited time.

After a couple of minutes the teacher tells the groups to rotate clockwise to the next sheet. The group should read the ideas generated by the previous group and then indicate with a “+” the ideas they agree with, a “x” those ideas they disagree with, “?” those ideas they are not sure about and/or add or amend other ideas.

This rotation continues until each group returns to its original position. Each group can then feedback to the class the key ideas generated.

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Double Circle Brainstorm

Teacher splits the class into two groups.

One group should form an inner circle (seated or standing) and the other group forms an outer circle. Students should be facing each other.

Teacher poses a question to the class.

The pairs facing each other should exchange views for approximately one minute.

Then the teacher asks the outer circle to rotate clockwise and asks this new pair to discuss the question.

Continue the rotation until students have had an opportunity to discuss the question with a wide range of partners.

During these rotations increase the time available for discussion and encourage students to reflect the views they have heard from others. This encourages them to synthesise ideas and share the opinions of others.

At the end of the rotation debrief the activity: did your opinion change in any way during the carousel? Did you make stronger arguments as you moved to new partners? Did you pick up any interesting views?

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Think Pair Share

About a certain issue, students should individually write down their ideas/thoughts, then students form pairs and compare their answers, discussing ideas and reaching an agreed position (or compromised position) between them.

This idea should be recorded.

Pairs should then form groups of four and compare their previous agreed positions between the two couples. Again, the groups need to reach an agreed position and record it.

Then, each group of four will merge with another one, forming groups of eight and so on until reaching a final agreed position of the class.

Minority Reports (i.e. dissenting views) should also be recorded if individuals feel very strongly that their view is not adequately represented. 

A final debriefing will allow an exchange of views about the process experienced, the positions changed and the emotions felt.

This technique enables students to think about their own responses to issues and gradually reach out to those around them to consider their thoughts on an issue as well.

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The Jigsaw

Students are divided into groups of four or five. This is their home group.

Teacher identifies four of five aspects of a certain issue to be discussed.

Each member of the home group is numbered 1-5.

All the numbers 1 from each home group meet to discuss one aspect of the topic, assigned by the teacher; the same do all the 2s about another aspect, and so on.

Finally, the home groups reassemble and each member provides feedback from their topic group, thus enabling the home groups to hear multiple perspectives on the same issue.

This methodology can be used for three different purposes:

  • To help students view an issue from multiple perspectives
  • To explore several aspects of an issue
  • To help students come up with solutions to a problem or a class action plan