A paperclip or a robot’s fingernail?

In honor of the new school year, we thought we’d offer a tip to spark some creativity in the classroom.

Are you trying to figure out what topics to study, what books to read, or what projects to give your class? Instead of giving the topics, why not let them decide themselves with a brainstorming session?

Start with a prompt such as “If you could only study one thing for a year, what would it be”, “What are you an expert at”, or “What would you like to be an expert at”.

Some important things to remember:

  1. No criticism or debate. Make sure students know that NO idea is a BAD idea and all ideas should be respected. Even if a student thinks it is ridiculous or impossible, it goes on the list.
  2. Emphasize quantity over quality. The goal is to have as many ideas as possible. Wild and crazy ideas are encouraged.
  3. Encourage students to build off of others ideas. Copying is OKAY in a brainstorming session.
  4. This is a team activity and everyone should participate.

If you feel that they might be hesitant at first, start with a warm-up brainstorming session, something that’s fun and crazy, to get students used to the possible excitement in a brainstorm. Find an item in your classroom and prompt the students with something like “100 uses for a paper clip”. You might get answers such as “holding paper together”, but participate with some crazy ideas like a robot fingernail or an ant maze.

We’ll leave you with a quote by Thomas Edison, “To have a great idea, have a lot of them.”


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