I-CANS Logo -- Click here to return to the I-CANS home page
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

Previous Section | Chapter 1 Table of Contents | Next Section

Theme Step #2: Exploration

Let students know that they are entering the "exploration" step of the thematic cycle. It is time to find out what it is that they already know or believe about the theme being discussed, and what information the people in their lives can supply them about the theme. From there they identify what it is that they want to know.

Exploration Activity #1: Brainstorming
Brainstorming is an activity that facilitates the development of new ideas, in connection to known concepts. It is used successfully in many situations to stimulate creativity and to solve problems. It requires fast and random associations.

  • Students are given an open-ended question to answer and are told to think of all of the answers that they can. All ideas are accepted, none are put down or judged.
  • Students individually call out answers, no one interrupts
  • Someone records the answers.

Exploration Activity #2: Mindmapping
Mindmapping is a way to find out the wide range of components of a problem or situation. It is similar to brainstorming in that the student is thinking of all of the significant information/major concepts s/he can in relationto a topic. After generating the first set of ideas students ask themselves, "What does this idea make me think of? What do I know about this idea?" They then generate a second set of ideas. They can repeat the questions as often as they wish making their mindmap more defined and complex.

  • Students have chosen a theme
  • Hand out a mindmap you have generated that is in relation to the theme.
  • Explain the mindmap to student and write down on the board the two key questions: "What does this remind me of?" "What do I know about this now?"
  • Students alone or in pairs create a mindmap for themselves.
  • Upon completion, students can do a number of things:
  • Students combine their mindmap with a partner and they together create a new, larger mindmap.
  • Students write a paragraph summarizing what they know about the theme being studied and what they want to know.
  • All mindmaps are displayed on the board and students looking at all of them assess what aspects of the theme seems to be the most interesting to the group.

Exploration Activity #3: Freewrite
Students are given a question (or other prompt) and write as much as they can about it for a given amount of time. They don't need to be concerned with spelling, grammar or punctuation. The point of a freewrite is to express ideas.

  • The students or teacher create a question which is geared toward finding out what the students know about the theme. For example, "How do most people get a job?"
  • Students as a whole group can brainstorm words that come to their mind when they think of the question(s). The instructor writes them on the board.
  • Students are given at least 10 minutes to write down their ideas.
  • Students can read their writing out loud.

Exploration Activity #4: Clustering
Clustering is a nonlinear visual depiction of the creative process. It is a means of discovering ideas a and associations around a central theme.

  • Explain to students that they already have inside of themselves a lot of ideas concerning the theme being explored.
  • Individually or in groups of 2-6 students write down all of the ideas they can think of that relate to the theme (use a small strip of paper for each idea)
  • Have students bring together (cluster) the ideas that relate to one another (papers can be taped to wall in a way that shows relationships)
  • Students agree on titles for the clusters and discuss those clusters
  • Students summarize all of the ideas and knowledge that the class already has in regards to the theme.
  • After figuring out what they already know about the theme, students are ready to develop questions regarding what more they want to know about the theme.

Exploration Activity #5: Brainstorming Questions
Students brainstorm the things that they want to know about their theme. Write the guidelines for brainstorming on the board. Ask a student to lead the activity.

  • Think about the theme.
  • Write down all of the questions that the class has about the theme.
  • Accept all of the questions. There are no "dumb" questions.

Exploration Activity #6: Goal Setting

  • Students brainstorm what they want to know about the theme. The instructor writes down what the students say.
  • Students choose 2-4 of the questions about the theme.
  • Students write those questions on a 3"x5" card.
  • Students all share the questions they chose. The instructor combines all of the questions, and writes them on a piece of butcher paper to be displayed on the wall of the classroom.
  • This serves to remind the students of the questions that the whole class has about the theme.
  • Students squash the card and put it in their pocket..(to carry with them until the questions are answered.)
  • Students are told that every time they touch the card they will be reminded of the questions they have about the theme.

Back to Top | Next Section