A Guide to Teaching Students Brainstorming

Teaching students how to brainstorm is an important skill since it helps them to generate as many creative ideas and unique ideas as possible. Brainstorming is useful in the classroom when students have to come up with new ideas for their project or more often used as part of the writing process. This article will discuss what it is, its many benefits, possible problems, and my tips on facilitating one.

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming is an activity that encourages students to come with as many wild ideas as they can within a time limit. The topic of the brainstorm session can be in the form of a sentence, question, or phrase. Students either work on this activity as individual brainstorming, in a duo, or in small groups. It is important to remember the quantity of ideas is more important the quality of ideas.

The Rules of Brainstorming

  1. Defer judgment of ideas
  2. Strive for quantity.
  3. Seek wild and unusual ideas.
  4. Combine and build on other ideas.

Benefits of Brainstorming

There are lots of advantages for students to learn divergent thinking and brainstorming strategies:

  • Give focus on the assigned topic
  • Create a list of a variety of ideas
  • Generate plenty of wild and original ideas
  • Enable a fresh flow of ideas before solving a problem or writing about the topic
  • Possible problems during brainstorming

Brainstorming is a great activity, however, there will sometimes be problems that you may encounter while you are facilitating a brainstorming session:

  • Judging ideas while generating ideas. Everyone should use the allotted time to come up with as many ideas as possible. Generating ideas and evaluating ideas for a solution should be done separately.
  • Inability to hear the idea to be contributed to the activity. Some students might get so loud that you can’t hear other students contributions. That is why I like students to do individual brainstorming first before doing it as a team.

Signs of effective brainstorming

As there are lots of signs that a brainstorming session can go wrong, let’s now learn how to facilitate the right one:

  1. Creating the right environment. As the facilitator, you have to keep the entire class organized and avoid any possible conflicts.
  2. Quantity over quality. The point of a brainstorming activity is to gather as many ideas as you can.
  3. Discouraging critical comments. During the discussion of the gathered ideas, everyone should not think of an idea as bad. I am stressing this the most because it IS the most important rule of the brainstorming process. When everyone first starts – people want to judge. Students are no different that is why one rule is – what ever comes out of your mouth must be an idea. That keeps students out of the stage of evaluation of ideas. Lateral thinking is another stage of the creative thinking process – it is different that the idea generation phase.
  4. Full participation from all students. This is a class-wide activity. That means that each student should share at least one idea. Encourage students to create list of ideas – remind them that there is no bad idea.

Introduce the PowerPoint with Rules for Brainstorming

This free powerpoint with activities will help you introduce the method of brainstorming that provides the most creative solutions and innovative ideas.

creativity in the classroom

Go through each slide and introduce and discuss the concept of brainstorming and how it is done.

Then you will have access to 10 free actual brainstorming sessions for your students. They can use a piece of paper or the print outs that I have provided. They can make a list of their individual ideas or they can use mind mapping to help them generate more ideas related to the topic.

Once your students have had a chance to search for ideas and play around with creative thinking – you can use the challenge of a walrus stuck in a bathtub to search for innovative solutions to a crazy problem!

Best yet, it goes with a great book, The Bathtub by Deborah Underwood (affiliate link), that you can read after your brainstorming session to see how the character in the book went to solve the challenge.

Brainstorming is an important skill to help students with their creative juices and an important skill they can use to generate ideas to get ideas to apply to their personal lives besides school.

Do you teach creative thinking skills in your classroom – comment below and let me know!