For this brainstorm, let’s aim to figure out a working thesis and really focus on finding quotes from the sources to support that thesis! So, aim to pick a side– collectivism or individualism- and once you’ve gotten that, let’s aim to get ideas for logos (quotes from the text, Always Running, and at least two other sources from this unit) to back it up. For the brainstorm itself, try choose a brainstorming technique that can help you accomplish this (maybe a T-Chart where you list examples from the sources of individualism on one side and on the other side examples of collectivism? For the quotes from the texts, maybe fold a sheet in four and put a source in each corner and add quotes to support the thesis from each text in its corner? Up to you!)
First, brainstorm for 10 minutes to decide on your working thesis and/or possible quotes to support that thesis (Part 1). Then, answer the questions afterward to reflect on how your brainstorming went (Part 2). Include both Part 1 (your brainstorm in a document or on a sheet of paper) and Part 2 (the answers to the questions about how your brainstorming went) in a file/files that you upload (a Word, PDF, or picture) or in the text box below.
Part 1- Brainstorming Techniques You Can Use to Brainstorm on a Sheet of Paper
Different people use different brainstorming techniques to help them think about their topic. People who learn visually will like to use charts or clusters, while people who think more analytically (they like to analyze things) may like to use bullets or cubing. Look at the following brainstorming techniques, then try to use one(s) that you think will work well for you based on how you like to learn:
Give yourself a specific amount of time (say 10 minutes or 15 minutes) and/or space (1 full page) to write down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind about your topic. If you’re having trouble finding ideas that relate, you can write down ideas that might seem to oppose the topic. After you’re done, look back to see if there are any connections between the ideas, main ideas, or just plain interesting ideas that you would like to continue thinking about or developing. It can be a good idea to repeat the process again and further develop those ideas since you may want to use them for your paper. Note- if it’s easier for you to talk through a subject, feel free to use this same process but do so out loud while also recording yourself.
- Invisible Writing
This is just like freewriting, but it takes the process a step further by making what you write “invisible.” If you’re writing on a computer, turn off the computer screen while you work. If you’re writing by hand, don’t pick up your pen or pencil while writing (write down every idea, no matter how strange or unrelated) and don’t look back at what you’ve already written down.
Write down lists of words or phrases about an idea related to the overall topic. You can make a general list about any words/phrases that come to mind, a list of words/phrases to support a claim you want to make, or even a list of words/phrases opposing the claim you want to make.
Start with an idea in the center of the page, ideally the main topic, then “map” out related ideas coming off of it. Keep mapping for a set amount of time, or until you can’t come up with anymore. You can also work backwards and start off with ideas, then go back and map/connect them visually.
- Word Storm/Word Association
This is a bit like clustering/mapping/webbing, but instead of an idea you start off with one word. Then, you “map” out related words that come to mind when you think of the first word, second word, etc. This can be a good technique to use to develop the essay topic itself, and it may lead to interesting areas of it you might not have seen at first glance.
This technique is similar to that used by investigative reporters. Basically, you want ask and answer the six main wh- questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. You can also ask yourself questions to describe a topic (eg. What is it? What caused it? What is it like/unlike? What do people say or think about it?).
This is a bit like questioning, but may be helpful for visual learners. Draw a cube, then use the wh- questions listed above to investigate your topic. Write and answer one question on each side of the cube. Once you’re done, look at the at the different sides to see how they interact. More specifically, see if any common themes or ideas repeat themselves. Instead of using the wh- questions, you can also write the following info about your topic on each side: 1. Describe it, 2. Compare it, 3. Associate it, 4. Analyze it, 5. Apply it, and 6. Argue for and against it.
- Using Drawings, Shapes, or Charts
This is another technique that can help visual learners. Draw or sketch out your topic. What do you “see” when you think about it? Similarly, you can do a freewrite in a shape that relates to the topic (for example, a cat if you’re writing about animals). Charts, a likely familiar technique, can also be a good way to “see” connections between ideas. You can use t-charts, graphs, or tables to explore connections between ideas.
Adapted from: The Everyday Writer and http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/brainstorming/ and http://www.cccti.edu/WritingCenter/Documents/BrainstormingStrategies.pdf
Part 2- Reflection Questions to Answer after Brainstorming
- What brainstorming technique(s) did you use, and why did you think that technique would be helpful for you?
- How did you feel while brainstorming (anxious, nervous, free, happy, etc.) and why did you feel that way?
- Do you think brainstorming helped you think of new ideas for the essay? Or helped generally? Why/why not?