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15 Brainstorming and sharing ideas

Teodóra Király

Download the video here

Lesson Plan

The good and bad about online chatting

* Note that the Introductory mini-survey and Language focus parts of this lesson are not shown in the video but included here as they would precede the brainstorming part (with the topic The good and the bad about online chatting). These are just examples of how you can get started discussing a topic and the structure of the brainstorming can be used on its own as well.


Questions /


What students do

How students work


What you need

Introductory mini-survey
5 min “What do you use the Internet for?” Students write on paper, then post it on the blackboard. Individually Iwiw, chatting, Skype, etc. Slips of paper, Blutack
Language focus
5 min “What are the group’s internet using habits?” T.flashes expressions for students to use. T. calls out students one by one to form sentences, using the expressions. Students form summary sentences by using the expressions the Teacher flashes One at a time Every single person… Everyone, with the exception of… Hardly anyone… etc. Projector, PowerPoint slide with the expressions
The good and the bad about online chatting
2 min “What are the good and bad things about chatting?” Students jot down ideas in spidergrams. Individually It’s fun. You can meet new people. It can be cheaper than the phone. You can get addicted to it. Etc. Exercise books, PowerPoint slide with a sample spidergram
7 min “Compare your ideas. Post some of yours and react to at least one idea of someone else.” Students post some of their ideas online, in the Nicenet conference room. In pairs Conference room on


General introduction

The first part of what could be a 90-minute lesson on the topic of net safety comprises of three smaller sections, as shown in the lesson plan above. First we explored what the students in the class used the internet for; then we focussed on the language of speaking about our internet-using habits; and in the section that you can see in this video file we stepped on to think about the positive and negative aspects of one very common online activity, chatting. This in itself has two parts: 1. individual brainstorming, 2. sharing these ideas afterwards. For the first part, students simply use their exercise books to draw the spidergrams. I showed them how to start, with the two circles for the two sides, on the screen.

This brainstorming will prepare the speaking activity in the ‘Fluency Practice’ section.

The activity step by step

1. Teacher states that they are going to talk about online chatting, as the most common Internet activity of the group.

2. In front of the whole class, the teacher asks for one example on the good, and one on the bad side of chatting.

3. Teacher shows students the sample spidergram and asks students to create their own.

4. Students work in their exercise books.

5. Students post their ideas in a message in the conference room created in connection with this topic.

6. Students reply to one message posted by others.

General advice

If the concept of a spidergram is completely new to your students, you may want to show a complete one for them to study as an example, but one that is on a different topic.

You may also need to show a good example of a Reply that you expect in Step 6. The idea is that students read each others’ notes, evaluate it and reflect on it. Encourage the use of informal register as this would suit the genre of ‘online conferencing’.

Technical tips

The sample spidergram was projected on screen, this you can see in the movie as well. It is just one page created in this case with the PowerPoint software that most PCs with Microsoft software packages include. In the case of such a simple illustration, you may even use Microsoft, Open Office or any other type of word processor. The advantage of PowerPoint lies in the way it supports all kinds of visual effects. It also has ready-to-use graphs and charts you can use. If you are familiar with a word processor, you will find your way around PowerPoint too. With a bit of experimenting you can quickly create very professional-looking slides.

Nicenet is an online platform that a class can use for emailing each other, checking what assignments they have, posting links, posting and exchanging documents, and chatting ( The latter takes place in the so-called Conferencing section that you can find in the main menu on the left. It is better if you create a Conferencing Topic for this activity before class. The idea of conferencing is that all messages can be seen on the same page, in the order that they were created, together with the messages posted in reply to each comment, therefore student should post their messages under the same conferencing topic.

This is how it works: click on Conferencing (in the main menu on the left); click on Add New Topic; name it (mine is Net Safety); then click on the Add Topic button below. Now the site requires you to post the initial message. It may be something similar to what you expect from the students, or just a welcome note explaining the task. Since I asked students (who were working in pairs) to type their names in the Subject line, you may do the same thing, to set an example.

When students post their messages, they go to the Conferencing Topic they are directed to, where they have two options. They can click on Post at the bottom of the Conferencing section, in our case Net Safety, to post their messages, or they can click on the title of the topic directly (Net Safety), which will take them to the conference room where they can read the others’ messages. This is where they can post a reply to these. Every message has a header containing the name of the author and the Subject, under which you can see Reply.

Preparation for class

The following checklist might be useful.

1. Decide on your topic if you are using one that is different from the one on the video.

2. Create the sample spidergram or download the slide from here.

3. Create the Conferencing Topic by posting the first message.


There are excellent mindmapping platforms available online, (for a good example see the Lesson Plan on Movies), that you can choose to use in this lesson, instead of asking students to work in their notebooks. There are two things to keep in mind: the online tool is very visual and therefore more motivating, but it might also be slightly more time-consuming to use. Since the brainstorming in this lesson is not of great importance and since it is immediately followed by a more interesting, computer-based activity, here I chose to stick to the good old paper and pen.

In this lesson, there were two students sitting by one computer, writing their conference comments. If you have enough computers, students can work individually in this phase, but I do believe in the positive effect of co-writing. Such a short task is an excellent opportunity to practice it. Students may have done their spidergrams entirely alone, but when they post their conference message together in pairs, they have already done one kind of compiling, which is even better, since the aim of the activity here is that students see as many other ideas as possible.

If you would like to include the Language Focus part of the lesson plan in your lesson, here is the Power Point slide with the expressions. Press the spacebar on your computer for each of the expressions to appear one by one as you play it.