TI-AIE: Brainstorming: forces and laws of motion

What this unit is about

This unit will introduce you to a classroom technique called brainstorming.

Brainstorming involves collecting ideas from your students. It is a simple technique that allows students to think creatively and freely and without inhibitions. An initial ‘prompt’ is used as a stimulus and then students are encouraged to contribute ideas that are associated with that prompt.

It works because during the process there are no criticisms or judgements made of your students’ suggestions. This has the effect of making students feel that they can offer all the ideas that they think of, however wild, wrong, silly or unconnected they seem. Rather, they can simply open their minds to whatever thoughts occur to them in a free-association process.

It is these so-called ‘wild-card’ ideas that are the seeds of creative thinking. They will often set off a train of thought that leads to an unusual, or new or imaginative answer. Better still, they may link otherwise unconnected concepts or subjects. Some of the suggestions that students will generate will not be useful, but that is OK.

In the first stage of the process, all ideas are acceptable and should be written down by one person. Brainstorming can involve a pair of students, a group of students or the whole class, and the prompt should be open-ended to encourage a wide range of ideas.

Once all the ideas have been collected, they can then be used in many different ways to support further learning. This unit will help you to learn how to run a brainstorming session and to use the ideas from the brainstorming session to inform your teaching.

The examples in this unit are drawn from the Class IX topic ‘Force and laws of motion’, but brainstorming is a technique that can be used across the entire science curriculum. It can also be used in association with other techniques such as mind mapping or project work.

What you can learn in this unit