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Brainstorming activities

Manuel Jantos

6 Mar 2022

Brainstorming is an essential part of the Pre-writing process; it allows the writer to gather and prioritise the best ideas for their writing. What are some of the tips for teaching brainstorming?

Tag: effective listening, listening skills, academic skills, brainstorming exercises, listening activities, writing activities,


Tips for teaching brainstorming

1. Students need to list all their ideas, even if they don't seem helpful or of good quality at first.

2. Ideas that build on, or piggy-back on a previous idea should be noted down as well

3. After a specified amount of time when all the ideas have been listed, students should review all the ideas, group them into categories, and combine ideas that have a common element, and remove repeating ideas.

Usefulness of brainstorming

· Helps with planning, organising and presenting ideas in speaking and writing tasks.

· Encourages students to outline their thoughts, and students can then expand and structure concepts into a more complete argument.

· Practical brainstorming activities can allow students to see from different perspectives.

How to brainstorm

Brainstorming can be done using a variety of methods. We will be focusing on some trusted methods below.

Mind mapping:

The format of Mind maps forces students to break down a large topic or idea into manageable chunks. Besides, mind mapping also helps students differentiate and branch sub-ideas from the main topic.

Mind mapping activity:

1. Bring the class in front of you and present a topic or subject for discussion.

2. Write the topic in the centre of the whiteboard, then give students a few minutes to think of any relevant ideas and subtopics.

3. To effectively show students the structure and benefits of mind mapping, it is okay to pick something that students are already familiar with.

4. Allow students to state their ideas and indicate any links to the main topic openly.

5. Reward students verbally whenever they suggest a sub-idea or a counter-argument. This will be very effective, as doing so will reward students for approaching the topic from different perspectives.

6. Pick a few students to ask how they would use the ideas on the whiteboard to outline their writing or presentations. This encourages students to draw connections between related items and possibly even come up with their own criteria to evaluate the ideas


Listing is a brainstorming approach in which you make a list of ideas, as the name implies. The benefit of this strategy is that it allows for faster idea generation than Mind mapping, because the ideas can be expressed in any order.

Listing activity:

1. Bring the class before you and present a topic or subject for discussion. For example, you may ask students to think of rhymes of a certain word.

2. Write the topic in the centre of the whiteboard, and then give students a few minutes to think of relevant ideas and subtopics.

3. Pick every student in a random order and allow them to contribute a second idea or criticise, elaborate on, or discuss any of the ideas.

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