Brainstorming and Writing Study Guide (page 3)

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Updated on Sep 30, 2011

Sample Personal Brainstorm on a Topic

Here's a sample of one student's personal brainstorm on the topic of global warming. Note that personal brainstorming can include questions as well as more fully formed ideas about a topic. The questions are often the most useful jottings in a personal brainstorm; they trigger ideas for specific topics.

This student ultimately decided to write an essay about the effect of global warming on polar bears. Can you think of other topics the student might have settled on, given the personal brainstorming she did? She might have chosen to write a more personal essay, for example, by choosing to use her father's experiences at his favorite fishing spot as the starting point for an essay about local effects of global patterns. Or she might have chosen to write about the effects of global warming on a particular country; her mention of Peru suggests that she has some interest in or information about that country.

Do you see how useful personal brainstorming can be in helping you narrow your focus and find a topic for an essay? There are no rights or wrongs in brainstorming. The intent of the exercise is to get your mind juiced up and working.

Big issue in politics—is it Democrats or Republicans who will fix it more?
Future generations will suffer. How fast is it happening?
Polar bears are dying out because of ice caps melting
What about other animals? seals, sharks, dolphins?
Fumes from cars are causing earth to heat up
Factories—are they the cause of it? What about little countries like Peru?
How much is due to China being so important nowadays?
Last summer was hottest summer we've had—even my uncle's corn crop got ruined
Atmosphere has a hole in it. (I don't really know what this means)
My dad's complaint about his fishing being affected . . . no more salmon in the river
Define global anyway. What does it really mean? Is the weather only world feature changing? Is the soil drying up? What about the oceans?

Practice 1: Practicing Personal Brainstorming

On a separate piece of paper (or on your computer), take five minutes and do a personal brainstorm for an essay on one of these topics. After you have completed your brainstorm, write out the topic, its audience, point of view, and style for your imagined essay.

1. Television is probably the most powerful medium in the world today.
2. Social activities are as important to students as their studies.
3. Are computers useful as teaching devices in schools?
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