Gerhard Erasmus and Hall Houston
The Round at Smashwords 2016
From my own teaching experience, I would say that brainstorming is one of the most important tools a teacher has in class – especially nowadays, when learners seem to struggle to find ideas on any topic other than technology! Not only does brainstorming pave the way for the lesson, but it also enables the students to perform subsequent tasks with much more confidence. There is, though, much more to generating ideas than the usual ‘spider web’ on the board, with words elicited from the students.
Brainstorming is a practical and useful e-book that takes things a step further. It starts by giving a very brief introduction to the origins of the term brainstorming and the rules one must follow when using the technique. It then goes on to provide teachers with useful tips on things such as how to set up a brainstorming activity and manage the class, in a concise and straightforward fashion.
If you are a teacher, you will already know well that things don’t always go according to plan. What seems to be easy in theory might not be so in practice. This e-book, however, does mention four potential problems that might crop up: silence in class, the fact that not all students might contribute to the activity, unimaginative ideas and when some participants, in the authors’ words, ‘shoot down other people’s ideas’. For each of these problems, there is a brief suggestion on a possible course of action to be taken.
In the last part of the book, which is perhaps the most interesting, the reader will find 20 brainstorming activities with, again, short but clear instructions on what to do. I used a few of them with my own classes and they worked very well. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of the tasks did manage to get a lot out of those students in my classes who often lack imagination or are unable to come up with ideas spontaneously. What I particularly like about this section in the e-book is that some of the activities integrate skills by adding a bit of writing. Another advantage is that most of them can be used as a filler in a lesson, as well as to expand a topic which the students have already been working with in class. They can also be easily planned to take a whole lesson. As previously mentioned, the material is quite succinct, but the authors include a list of other books and websites for further reading.
My only reservation is the absence of an index, though by no means does this mar the contents of the book. I believe it would just make things easier for the reader. I wanted to repeat one particular activity with a different group of students and wanted to refresh my memory as to the procedures. I had to scroll through page after page, looking for the activity until I eventually found it. This, however, is just a minor issue. I can clearly see the value of this e-book, and I thoroughly recommend it.