Brainstorming can be an intimidating and daunting task for many students. It’s hard for young writers to come up with ideas for a topic without having a lot of life experience. It is necessary to brainstorm WITH your students in the beginning, then gradually hand over the responsibility to students once you have taught them strategies and skills to use.
The brainstorming step in the writing process is too important to skip! You can use ideas from the scaffolded guide with prompts to help if you and your students get stuck. Then you can add more ideas as you brainstorm with your students.
I learned a great strategy from a phenomenal seasoned teacher a few years ago. It’s the acronym T.H.E.M.E.S. which can spark ideas and help get the creative juices flowing. It’s important to remind students that the brainstorming phase is a time to share all ideas. Some ideas may seem crazy, but always try to foster a classroom environment that is open to all ideas without judgement.
It’s important to organize ideas so they will make sense! You may want to choose the brainstorming graphic organizer for your young writers. Older students may have a preference. To organize the reasons, some graphic organizer options are should/shouldn’t, support/oppose, or for/against in column format for opinion, persuasive, and argumentative ideas. For an informative or expository essay, a brainstorming web will work well. It’s important for students to write down both sides even if they think they know how they will write their essay. The class discussion or further research could sway some students to change their point of view. Also, students will need it to put in an opposing view reason into the opinion, persuasive, and argumentative essays.
The gradual release process length varies from year to year. It is dependant upon how much guidance is required for your class. Once you get to know your class, you will know if you need to brainstorm with them the entire session or just the first few ideas to get them started. Either way, brainstorming can help with your students’ creativity during the writing process. Below are my scaffolding guides with THEMES and graphic organizers!
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