How to Implement the Alphabet Brainstorm Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom
Brainstorming is an effective way to help learners get ideas on paper. The alphabet brainstorm method helps to structure learners’ brainstorming by requiring them to develop concepts that start with each letter of the alphabet. This strategy can be used with students individually, in small groups, or as a whole-class activity. It is a quick way to create thoughts, measure background knowledge, and assess learning.
- Select a Topic or Content: Topics that work well include films, books, themes, historical events, or other media that can be the focus of an Alphabet Brainstorm activity.
- Determine Your Learning Outcome:
- Do you want to see what learners already know about a topic? If so, utilize the Alphabet Brainstorm method as an opener or warm-up activity.
- Do you want learners to review the material they have learned?
- Do you want to stimulate discussion after learners watch a film or read a text? Do you want to see what learners took away from the teaching of new material? If so, utilize the Alphabet Brainstorm method as part of a debrief activity or in place of the Exit Card method.
- Prepare for the Brainstorm: Ask learners to list the letters of the alphabet on the left-hand side of a piece of paper. Or, you can put 26 posters throughout the room, each with a letter on each one. Or you can provide learners with a graphic organizer with the alphabet on it.
- Conduct the Alphabet Brainstorm: The way you conduct the brainstorm will be different as it depends on the learning outcome that you select. Here are some questions to consider:
- Group? Will learners work alone? In pairs? In groups? As a whole class?
- Timed? This activity works best if learners are given a fixed period. The Alphabet Brainstorm activity can be conducted in two to three minutes if learners work in groups or as a class. If learners are working individually, you may want to give them more time to generate an entry for most of the letters.
- Silent? The Alphabet Brainstorm method can make for an excellent silent activity, with the discussion happening after learners have reviewed what they have written.
- Accountability? Will learners turn in their work? Will it be assessed? If so, what attributes are you looking for in learners’ responses?
- Debrief: The results of an Alphabet Brainstorm activity provide excellent material for learner discussion. What themes do they notice? What was included? What was left out?
- Alphabet brainstorm race: Organize students in small groups or as two teams and have learners race to find out who will be the first team to finish the alphabet brainstorm. Or you can have the entire class work together to complete the brainstorm.
- Partial-alphabet brainstorm: You could give learners only a tiny section of the alphabet to work with. Or you could section the alphabet into quarters or thirds and require that groups work on only one section.
- Spoken alphabet brainstorm: You could have learners line up and require them to say a word or phrase that is related to a theme or piece of content they just explored. The first learner has to say a word that starts with A, the second learner says a word that begins with B, and so on.