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Ekstrom Library

English 102 Information Literacy Activities and Lesson Plans: Brainstorming Keywords

Activity Guide: Brainstorming Keywords

Audience: English 102

Duration: 5-10 minutes

Tools/Technology: Paper, Pen/Pencil. A blank brainstorming worksheet and an example of a filled-in worksheet are available on Google Drive and Sharepoint.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Formulate viable exploratory research questions
  • Build relationships with classmates
  • Generate a wide variety of keywords for topic

Description: This activity can be used to help students generate keywords and more ideas related to their research topics. Students will come away from the activity with a list of keywords to use in our databases and more ways to expand or narrow their research topics. Review the "Copy Box" with students and an example of what a paper might look like after an activity.

  1. Students write their central research topic or question(s) in the center of a blank piece of paper.
  2. Students will pass their papers to a nearby classmate.
  3. The classmate reads the topic and has one minute to write two things:
    • Keywords related to that topic
    • Any ideas or topics related to the central research topic or question(s)
  4. The classmate passes the paper to another student.
  5. Each student's paper receives new keywords or ideas from at least 3 students.
  6. Papers are returned to the original student.
  7. Circle new keywords or ideas you had not previously generated.

In some ways, this could be similar to a free association exercise where students are meant to write whatever comes to mind instead of getting writer's block by trying to come up with a "perfect" response. I would emphasize that the exercise is supposed to help students get a range of ideas without too much self-filtering or judgments on what is "good" or "bad."

After the activity, you could hold a whole class discussion about the usefulness of keyword variety and ask students to share ideas or keywords they circled and how they're helpful.

Box to Copy: Brainstorming Keywords

  1. Write your central research topic or question(s) in the center of a blank piece of paper. Put your name on the back of the paper.
  2. Pass your paper to a nearby classmate.
  3. Read the paper you receive and in one minute write two things:
    • Keywords related to that topic
    • Any ideas or topics related to the central research topic or question(s)
  4. Pass the paper you currently have to another classmate who has not seen the paper before.
  5. Pass the papers again. Write for one minute again.
  6. Return the paper to its owner.
  7. On your own paper, circle new keywords or ideas you had not previously generated. Be prepared to share your new findings.

Discover. Create. Succeed.