So far, on our road to building an effective plan, we have laid the ground work.
We developed a plan and thought about types of assessments. We’ve also create a rubric and used the Engineering Design Process to plan the remainder of lessons. We’ve also looked at creating STEM Role Cards to help students to use their time wisely.
When we plan a STEM unit, there are a lot of steps that are part of a linear progression with each step building on the one before. Then, there are other elements (like the Role Cards) that are related and necessary, but don’t seem to fit into a linear progression. This week, we’ll talk about another non-linear component- how to facilitate students’ development of ideas.
When students work together, they almost always have difficulty brainstorming. It’s not enough to tell students to “just go think up good ideas”. The younger the student, the more difficulty they have working in this “white space”. As such, it helps to share brainstorming strategies to help create a sort of process for them to follow.
Some group brainstorming strategies include:
Stepladder Approach- Students generate ideas individually, then partner up within their team to discuss and add more ideas. Finally, all members of the group work together to share their ideas and generate more.
SCAMPER- Once students have come up with one idea (and might have gotten stuck), using the SCAMPER strategy will help generate others. With each letter standing for a way to generate ideas, students can work to find other solutions. (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Rearrange)
Concept Map- Most students are familiar with concept maps and have used them before. They take many different forms and can be as simple as a blank piece of paper to something more elaborate printed on a worksheet. In any case, it’s important to allow students to each write their ideas onto the worksheet or chart paper and build on other ideas they are hearing.
There is no right way to brainstorm, but by providing some strategies and soliciting “Brainstorming Rules” from students to establish a sense of fairness and buy-in, the process will flow smoothly and encourage ideas.
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Lane specializes in STEM education, curriculum design and professional development and makes teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.