Students Transforming School: Brainstorming

Envisioning the Ideal School

Introduction and context:

As the first task of my fellowship, I created a steering committee to help me with the work I would be undertaking next year.  I chose several teachers and an administrator and asked each one of those people to invite two students to participate.  Because my project is about personal learning ( and I am a staunch proponent of equity), I asked teachers to consider all their students, regardless of academic success.  Once I had this information, I began meeting with students first without the teacher members present.  I was transparent with both the teachers on the committee and the students that I wanted to really hear from students without any adult influence.


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Prior to my first meeting with students, I provided them with an overview of the steering committee purpose.  I recorded a mini-lecture on video and sent this to students several days before the actual meeting.  I let them know in the video that this would allow me to talk less during our meeting and allow them to have more time to share their ideas.   During the brainstorming session, I instructed students not to make any judgements about ideas but to simply let all their ideas be explored.  I kept quiet during the meeting except to say several things.  One reason I interjected was to maintain the norm of nojudgement.  A second reason was to clarify or request elaboration on their ideas.  The last reason was to encourage all students to participate.  The prompt I gave students was to think about their ideal school and describe the elements of that environment.  I provided 5 minutes of private thinking time and then convened the group to share the ideas.  I took notes while students shared what they had come up with.  They were less radical than I thought they would be but they came up with a pretty good list.  I pushed them a little harder during the second meeting.

Protocols for brainstorming:

Wagon Wheel Protocol

Charette Protocol

Tools for brainstorming


Technology/ apps

Stormboard allows real time brainstorming to happen with a a variety of collaborators

Twitter with the use of a hashtag (or several) could be used to generate ideas

Another way…

This is sort of what I did but I didn’t do it deliberately.  Try something called brainwriting as described and well reasoned in this post.