One thing that the COVID pandemic has taught us is that students love to collaborate. An infinite number of middle and high school students have recounted their desire to talk to people, to interact, and to collaborate -- something that isn't easy when we are apart.
Brainstorms can be completed in distance learning with Word Clouds, brainstorming apps or collaborative Google Docs. However, once we DO get back to the paradise of our classrooms (NEVER thought I'd say that) brainstorming as a collaborative tool and as a way to elicit prior knowledge is a low to no prep warm-up, introduction to your theme, or way to interact and display understanding.
In small groups, your students will love working together to create a mind map that contributes to their understanding of a concept. Small white boards are a great way to have students create it a puzzle-style concept, where each student contributes to portions of the topic. Large pieces of paper can be displayed and added to during the thematic unit. To REALLY capture students' attention, use your whiteboard markers to have them create that mind map together, writing on their desks. Sure, you'll have to scrub them, but something about writing on the furniture is insanely engaging for them.
So, challenge: When you start your next unit, this is your warm-up! Do it...you'll love it and so will they.
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