Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brainstorming Tool:

A new unit in our eighth grade curriculum this year focuses on gambling addiction. Based on our version of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, we know that a lot of our middle school students do not gamble; it is still an important topic to discuss as the potential to get into a lot of trouble (financially, socially, legally etc) is great. I also use it as a segue into the addiction information they will talk about next year at the high school.

To begin the unit this time around, I conducted a brainstorming activity with my eighth grade classes. Using a website I just found out about, the students brainstormed everything they know about gambling, based on specific categories I provided.

The website is called, and I found out about it through a post on the excellent blog Free Technology for Teachers. (If you are a teacher, you NEED to follow this blog!) On, you can noodle around before you actually register to see if the site is something you could use. Be sure to check out the features example provided on the homepage for additional information. You'll learn a lot just by using the interface, and can embed and export files created on If you have Smartboard capabilities, you could have students type using the on-screen keyboard (or do so yourself); although I have a Smartboard in my classroom, I decided to key stuff in from the computer my first time using this lesson.

I'm certain that this website could be greatly used in some of our other units, such as our sexual harassment unit. Creating information in a visual way is a handy way for students who think that way, and the chart is something we can refer back to throughout our unit. I could also use this as an informal pre-test/post-test of student knowledge or as another form of formative assessment (link). In this case, this tool allowed me to gauge the classroom knowledge about this topic. In the future, I plan on printing these brainstorms out to refer back to over the course of a unit. I might also try an ongoing segment where our classes link each unit together, noting similarities and common themes.

Here is an example from my first period, eighth grade class; you can browse around:

As always, feel free to e-mail me with any questions, comments, or concerns.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is always good to discuss topics openly to make young people aware of consequences of things before they're aware. I can remember my parents not wanting to discuss topics like this at all for fear that they would be giving us information to go out and do it. Looking back, I would have longed for an open dialog beforehand.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...