Have you ever felt like autumn has arrived and your desk is covered with sticky notes like leaves falling from the trees? You have sticky notes on your monitor, on your computer, on the filing cabinet, on your desk ...
There are stacks of sticky notes. There are stacks of stacks of sticky notes sometimes!
Can you relate?
But there's something magical about using sticky notes ...
I love using them to brainstorm. I'll write out all of my ideas on them -- good or bad -- and put them on the wall.
Then I'll start moving them around and organizing ideas. It's much easier to see what's missing and what I have too much of this way.
Pretty soon, the butterflies start to fly in formation, as they say.
Sticky note brainstorming can be used for a lot:
Here's the problem that I always run into with sticky note brainstorming ...
Sometimes, I scatter all my stickies and organize them at a coffee shop and then I have to pick them up when I'm done. I stack them up and all the glorious organizing is gone.
Sometimes, I put them up on a wall at home. But then company comes over. Or my family gets sick of seeing them all over the place.
Sometimes, there's a cat. Or a gust of wind.
Plus, you're limited to the number of sticky notes you have -- and the colors available.
I've found a new option ...
I use Google Slides for EVERYTHING these days. The slides serve as individual workspaces. You can add text, images, shapes, lines, videos, etc.
It's a blank canvas, and the sky's the limit on what you -- and your students -- can create with it.
I started brainstorming on a project a few days ago -- a follow-up book to Dave Burgess's Teach Like a Pirate called Tech Like a Pirate! (More details on that coming. Subscribe to the email newsletter for updates and opportunities to have YOUR story in the book!)
Wrote one idea on a sticky note and put it on the wall. Then, it hit me ...
Why don't I do this on Google Slides?
It made perfect sense to me:
In a matter of about five minutes, it was created ...
Here's how I created it:
Some tips for using it:
The beauty of brainstorming this way is that it's non-confrontational.
Ever stare at a blank document with a blinking cursor? (Does it ever feel like that cursor is laughing at you, mocking you for struggling?) Taking that first step is HARD.
Jotting all of your ideas down on sticky notes isn't hard. Just tell yourself, "All of my ideas don't have to be brilliant or perfect. I'm just getting everything out of my head."
This type of brainstorming is a form of retrieval practice, too. Trying to remember something long-term? Practice by dumping everything you know about it into sticky notes.
Another important point: When you commit NOT to throw ideas away once you've put them on a sticky note, you make an important mental step. You're turning off your filter, freeing up the free flow of ideas. When I criticize every idea that comes to me, I've found that my flow of ideas is severely restricted. Keep 'em coming, even if they're not good!
Doing this kind of thinking isn't automatically made better with technology.
In fact, when I have to brainstorm, I'll turn to a notebook many times.
I have lots of ways to gather ideas (sketching images, making lists, creating sticky notes, writing on a document, Google Slides sticky notes, etc.). Here's what I've found about finding the perfect way for me:
When I'm familiar with LOTS of options, one will instinctually come to mind when I'm ready to work. I go with my gut and use whatever feels best.
There's plenty of benefit in using your hands, standing on your feet, and capturing ideas physically (not digitally).
Use what works best for you, and give your students options, too.
Brainstorm with paper sticky notes. Then capture them with the Post-It app!
This was an awesome app smash I learned about from Kelli Lane, a tech integration specialist from Illinois. Here's how it works:
Hear Kelli explain it in her own words in this episode from the Ditch That Textbook podcast!
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