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Writing Lesson Plan

Brainstorming Techniques

Teacher: Gwen Priddis
Topic: Writing
Level: High beginner/ low intermediate
Age: Adult ESL class


Materials Needed:

Learning/Teaching Activities:

TIME: 40-50 min.

BUSINESS ITEMS: Call roll, give the announcements


Review the adjectives to describe things that the class should have learned during the previous class. Put the word strip *Brainstorming* on the chalk board where everyone can see it. Ask the class what brainstorming means. After they have given their suggestions, explain to them what brainstorming is and the importance of brainstorming in the writing process. The students need to realize that every idea, even if it seems insignificant or unrelated, is valid. Definition of brainstorming: A useful technique in writing which permits one to approach a topic with an open mind. The actual process of brainstorming involves writing down any word or idea that comes to mind about the topic. Individuals often come up with ideas they didn't even know they had.

Instruction: (10 min.)

Take out the large picture and put it in the front of the class where it can be seen by all the students. Explain to them that you are going to use this picture to practice the technique of brainstorming. Have the students look at the picture and tell you all the words or ideas that come into their heads. Write all these things down on the chalkboard underneath the word strip *Brainstorming.* Continue this exercise for about 5 minutes or until there are about 20 words or phrases written down. >From the list of words on the board, have the class help you pick three of the most interesting words or ideas and circle them. Tell the class that you will be writing a couple of sentences with the three words or ideas that were picked. Write a couple of sentences, using each word within each sentence. The sentences don't have to pertain to the picture; they just have to contain all three of the words. Read the sentences to the class or else have one of the students read them out loud to the class.

Practice: (10-15 min.)

Activity 1:

Hand each student in the class one of the smaller pictures. Have each of them get out a piece of paper and give them 5 min. to brainstorm about their picture. Have them write down anything and everything that they can think of for the entire 5 min. After the 5 minutes are up, have each of the students pick 3 words from their list and write a couple of sentences using those 3 words. (10-15 min.)

Activity 2:

If it is a big class (larger than 6 people), have the class get into small groups. (If the class if smaller than 7 people, do this activity as a class). Within the group, have each student take turns showing their picture to the other members of the group and then reading what they wrote down. Have each of the members of the group then try to guess what words the student used from his brainstorming activity.

Evaluation: (5 min.)

Have all the members of the class get back into their original seats. Ask a few of the students to share what they have written.


Ask the students what the importance of brainstorming is. Have each of them go home, find a picture, practice brainstorming, pick a few words and then write down some sentences.

NEXT TIME (preview): Have some of the students share their homework sentences.


If the activities don't take as long as they should, have the class members switch pictures and repeat Activities 1 and 2.

Variations to the activity: Instead of having each student pick 3 words from all the words they've written down, have them pick just 1 word. Have them write that word at the top of a clean piece of paper. Have them brainstorm about this one word or topic for 5 minutes. After they have finished, have them get into small groups and share what they have written.

Another variation is to have the students choose 1 word from their list of words and then get into small groups. Have one of the members of the group begin by writing down a sentence using the word that he or she chose. This student then passes his or her paper to the next person in the group who then writes a connecting sentence, but uses the word that they chose from their own list. Once this student finishes, the process continues until everyone in the group has a chance to write a sentence. When all the groups have finished, the class gets back into their original places and each group takes turns showing their pictures and reading their sentences.


I explained this lesson format to a group of students in class. I think that the explanation went well, but I received a few suggestions that I thought that I should take into consideration. One students was concerned with the whether or not the lesson would be too difficult for the level of students that I chose. The level of students that I chose to present this lesson to are from high beginner to low intermediate students. In my outline I decided to mentioned that the class should have learned adjectives to describe things the previous lesson, so that they would have something to fall back on if they couldn't think of words for the brainstorming activity. Most high beginner and low intermediate level students are able to write simple sentences, so I feel that the activities in this lesson would not be too complex for the students to accomplish.

I feel that brainstorming is a good activity to get students involved in writing. Through brainstorming they are able to write down any word or idea that comes to mind, so sometimes they are able to come up with ideas they didn't even know they had. Because of this, they are able to open up entirely new horizons in their writing. I feel that brainstorming is a process that should be used with any level of writing.

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1997 © Dr. Lynn E. Henrichsen
Department of Linguistics
Brigham Young University
Last Updated: Saturday, June 7, 1997