A 3 Step Collaborative Brainstorming Process (Tools & Tips)

How can students brainstorm collaboratively using technology. On page 177 of Reinventing Writing, I discuss collaborative brainstorming and why it is used. There are many tools that you can use. I’ll share with you how my students create ideas for an app that they will program in Crescerance. I’m a huge believer in prewriting but also in brainstorming and planning. (See Thrash Early for why this is so important.)

Collaborative Brainstorming Step 1: Ideation: Create Ideas with the Group (Padlet)

Padlet is an excellent tool for brainstorming in this phase. (See our App Idea Padlet we used for app planning.)  Before they took to padlet, they had to create as many ideas as possible but at least 20 in 7 different categories. I’ve found the best ideas usually come after you’ve emptied your mind of your first ten. Then, I have students circle their three favorites. If we’re doing this as a whole class on the whiteboard, we have to get 50!

You could also use Google Docs but it isn’t quite as visual. If you’re connecting across classrooms (like shared in the 2nd level of Flattening your Classroom – -see Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds) — you can have students brainstorm. The next class can come in and follow up and join in. Padlet used to be called Wallwisher and is one of those go-to resources when you brainstorm.

 

Collaborative Brainstorming Step 2: Team Mindmapping (Mindmeister)

In this case, I start with Padlet to help teams form around a concept for a mobile app. Then, after students know their teams, they move to Mindmeister to map out how their app will work. Each individual screen is a node on the mindmap.

Money Manager Mindmap

This student, A, wanted to create a Money app with tips for students. Here is his mindmap created with the Mindmeister plug in he used within Google Docs.

Collaborative Brainstorming Step 3: The Group Pitch (Google Presentations)

After my students have worked through the app concept and how it will look. They work to present in Google Presentations to the entire class. (They could really use any group presentation builder. I like to look at the edits to make sure everyone is contributing.)

Students collaborate across classes. In this collaborative presentation, a 10th grader and 9th grader created a presentation about their app to encourage budding artists. This presentation is in Google presentations which can be far more attractive than the early days when there were just a few basic styles.

Students collaborate across classes. In this collaborative presentation, a 10th grader and 9th grader created a presentation about their app to encourage budding artists. This presentation is in Google presentations which can be far more attractive than the early days when there were just a few basic styles. (If you’re curious about “Start Timer” that is my Toggl app I use to track my own time.)

Their pitch must include their audience, their concept, and an overview of how the app will work.

After they present, then they get one of three options:

  • Green Light – They are a full go to build their app.
  • Yellow Light – They are almost a go, but have to answer a few questions before it is a go ahead.
  • Red Light – There are issues that will prevent this app from moving forward.

Thus far, I haven’t had any red lights but three yellow lights and five green lights. G

Production

Next week we will head into production. After they develop their app in Crescerance, they will go into a “Shark Tank” experience where they pitch their app. One will be selected to be released on the Apple and Google Play app stores.

How Can This Be Used in Any Classroom?

Having done genius projects for three years now, it is vital to make sure students clearly investigate their proposed project. If you  have extended genius projects, consider using this brainstorming/proposal/pitch method. (After you’re done, you can track in Trello as I’m about to do with Crescerance. I couldn’t live without Trello and our genius projects!)

Lots more collaborative ideas where this came from! Pick up my newest book Reinventing Writing or the definitive guidebook on global collaboration Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds. You can do this!

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