This is what I believe. Students struggling with concepts or content are given Brainstorm activities as 'busy business' in the belief it helps to remember, clarify and organise essential facts. When asked student will acknowledge the problems: doesn't really make sense, got lost at 'why I am doing this?', and I don't really know where to write the word, or how to use them. As a result, I started creating alternative brainstorming methods that worked for particular students, and then applied them more generally, when appropriate.
1. The Algorithm Approach was developed for a bright year 10 student who was not achieving. It came from my programming experience and solved the problem for a student who needed to be logical. They start at the top of the problem and build downwards in increasing levels of complexity - using colours to make connections.
BRAINSTORMING GOAL: to generate clear, and speedy, comprehension of a situation that is not currently understood.
3. My favourite method was the spreadsheet version. The very logical student revelled in the idea of a matrix, with definite boundaries-that could be flexible. In short, column A was the list of ideas generated, row 1 were people, places or things; whenever the student thought there was a link or connect the cell was coloured in. Worked a treat.
TO BRAINSTORM: to think intensely about a subject in order the solve a specific problem.
4. "I have nothing", 3 little words I began to hate, from students who couldn't see why they should put in some effort. Together, a boy in Grade 5 and I came up with a scrabble like solution. With a large sheet of grid paper on the desk, I would enter a topic in no more than three words., e.g. caring for pets. Taking turns after that, we entered any word related to the topic, as in a scrabble game. Asking who, what, where, when and why as general discussions during the activity assisted the student to generate suitable words.
BRAINSTORMING: usually a group activity, that relies on spontaneity and a willingness to share ideas and solutions.