Brainstorming (pushing ideas back and forth and together in our brains) is a really important skill to teach our kids in Kindergarten. When our students engage in brainstorming, they are classifying and categorizing information that they are recalling. In this lesson, it is crucial that students engage in brainstorming so they can come up with conclusions based on an informational text. When our students do this, they are able to think, speak through and listen through their information in order to sort it properly in their minds.
This lesson is the second step in my Writer's Workshop, and it usually occurs on a Tuesday.
Prior to this lesson, I will have completed an "information dump" with my students. That lesson will have provided students with a lot of knowledge that they can draw from for their brainstorming.
If needed, before this lesson, I read some extra books to the students and/or let them watch an extra video to provide them with a little more information.
I will allow students about four minutes of conversation time to speak and listen about the topic with their partners. As students discuss their ideas (from the previous learning), I walk around and monitor conversations and adjust where it may be needed.
When we engage in whole group brainstorming, all of the students are seated in front of me on the carpet. They are all positioned next to a partner (for conversational needs) and where they can see our reference chart.
For this lesson, we used flowers as the topic!
As a group, we review our chart of ideas; we go over the things that we have already written down as "Facts About Flowers." Then, I try to get any other facts out of my students.
"We have a lot of information... but, does anyone have anything to add? Does anyone remember anything extra or did you see or experience anything that we could add to our list?"
(I will add any extra information to our chart.)
"Alright... Now that we have all of the facts we know about flowers, so far, we are going to have to figure out how to categorize our information. Let's look through our facts. As I read one of our facts, I want you to think about it. After each fact, I would like for you to talk to your partner and explain where you would place this information- what does it relate to?"
***This is a strategy that I have to model throughout the year before students can do this independently in whole group. (Here is an example: If I said that ants have a thorax, I would probably say that that fact belongs with the other fact that ants have 3 parts. I could also say that the fact that ants have a thorax belongs with the fact that ants also have an abdomen.)
One at a time, I will review our written facts. I will allow students about twenty seconds, following each fact, to talk about the relationships between the facts. I will model solid ideas throughout this process as well. When we are done with the chart, we will begin to organize our information together.
"Now that we have made a lot of connections, let's begin to categorize and classify our flower information. I heard two main things that we were talking about. I heard a lot of you talking about what flowers need and I also heard a lot of you talking about how flowers have different parts. I think that those should be two categories for us!"
On my chart, I will write our title- flowers, and beneath that I will write our two categories- what flowers need, and the parts of a flower. After I have done that, I will ask students to provide me with information that will fit inside of our two categories.
"Okay, one of our main topics is what flowers need. Can you please tell me what all the things are that flowers need?" (Students should say: nutrients, water and sunlight. They may also say things like soil, care or help.) "Great job!" I will add those words under my heading of What Flowers Need.
"Our other main topic is the parts of a flower. Can you please tell me about the different parts of flowers?" (Students should say: roots, stem, leaves, petals, fruits, pollen, etc.) "Great job!" I will add those words under my heading of Parts of a Flower.
"Wow, it looks like we have really been able to categorize our information. We have our title, Flowers and our two main topics: What Flowers need and Parts of a Flower. Now, we are going to take this information that we have sorted together and go write it down for ourselves. When we are working, feel free to reference this chart, but be sure to create your own ideas!"
Here is how brainstorming really works in the whole group setting within my classroom!
As students are at their seats, they will be creating their own graphic organizers about flowers. Students will be allowed to refer to our chart that we made together, but they know they aren't allow to copy it. I always say, "Choose the ideas that YOU think need to be included! Write the ideas in your own order, by what you think is the most important!"
Students can choose whether they want to write in complete sentence or if they just want to write simple phrases that will serve as a reminder for ideas.
Students can write like this: Plants need 3 things. Plants need water. They also need sun. Plants need to be taken care of, too.
OR, students can write like this: 3 needs, sun, water, care
* I usually encourage my beyond-level students to write their sentences and my approaching-level students to just write reminders, so they can create their sentences later.
Attached, you can see an example of our two types of organizers. As you can see, the students do not copy my organizer, but their organizers do share most of the same information as our class chart.
When students are done with their organizers, they put them into their writing folders on their tables. Students will need to refer to their organizers in the following day's lesson, the rough draft.
For my formal assessment, I will take students' graphic organizers and check them. I will be looking for correct placement of words (under either flower parts or flower needs). I like to have a formal assessment like this because it allows me to see what students did independently while also providing me with something to send home and provide feedback on.
For my informal assessment, I will make sure to walk around and listen as students brainstorm together. I will jump in and help students expand ideas and/or correct misconceptions if needed. Also, I will walk around as students work independently and see who may need some support or who might benefit from a little bit of an added challenge. As always, I take anecdotal notes about my students, based on these observations.