Brainstorming can be simple and useful in all disciplines, but it must be used appropriately to be effective. Choose a strategic point in your class for brainstorming: for example, when beginning a new topic or at the end of a lecture as review. Use students’ input to decide on sub-topics to focus on during your class, to identify possible lines of questioning, and to assess students’ level of comprehension and interest in your topic.
• Decide exactly how much time you’ll allot to the brainstorming and enforce it.
• Present students with a question or issue that you want their ideas: emphasize quantity over quality.
• For large classes you should use a prompt that asks for tentative responses rather than declarative statements. For example, “tell me what you know, have heard, or have read about this topic.” This allows your students to offer responses without having to fear being “wrong”.
• Use a few minutes of silence for students to write down their ideas before hearing them.
• Accept students’ input and organize it into logical groupings, if relevant.
• Apply only two rules:
○ acknowledge every offering by writing it down and
○ don’t allow judgements of any idea until brainstorming is over (this includes your judgements!).