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Enhancing English Learning through Brainstorming
Hall Houston

Abstract
Creativity is a skill commonly associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, yet all of us possess the potential for being creative. We use our creative abilities every day to make decisions and solve problems. Recently, the topic of creativity has become a major buzzword in education circles. For example, in 2002, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan began a series of projects aimed at fostering creativity in education in addition to publishing a White Paper on Creative Education. Taiwan has also held several conferences with creativity as the theme, including the 2008 International Conference in Creativity Development, held at National Taiwan Normal University. Educators in Taiwan complain that Taiwanese students lack imagination and creative skills. Many teachers look for new ways to help their students develop creativity. This workshop attempts to address this problem by demonstrating how regular practice of brainstorming can foster creativity, as it simultaneously helps students develop fluency in English. Brainstorming is an activity where a group of 3 to 5 participants work collaboratively to generate a wide number of solutions to a problem. Although the development of creative skills may not be deemed as important as the basic four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, this workshop will show how brainstorming is a highly motivating way for students to improve their English. For example, beginners can produce a list of vocabulary related to the topic of a class. This can help them prepare for the rest of the lesson. 1

Brainstorming activities can help more advanced students produce ideas for essays, projects, and professional presentations. It can also be greatly helpful in developing solutions for problems in professional settings. With ESP courses, students can use a brainstorming framework to get practice thinking about real problems they will encounter in their professional lives. The initial stage of the workshop will provide some basic theories of creativity and the creative process, as well as trace the origins of brainstorming, including Alex Osborne¶s initial model of brainstorming and the Osborne-Parnes creative problem solving process that followed. This will be followed by some explanation of the importance of developing creative skills in the language classroom, and several benefits of brainstorming for English learners. The next section includes the basic guidelines for setting up a successful brainstorming session and tips for motivating students to participate. This will include a few solutions to difficulties that might come up in a brainstorming session, as well as suggestions for maximizing opportunities for English fluency and accuracy. The workshop will conclude with a few hands-on brainstorming activities for conference participants, allowing them to see firsthand how these activities operate.

Biography
Hall Houston has many years of teaching experience at universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong. His first book, The Creative Classroom, was published in 2007 by Lynx Publishing. He is currently working on his second book, Thinking Skills in EFL, which will be published later this year by Helbling Languages. He has written many articles on ESL/EFL that have been published in such periodicals as English Teaching Professional, ESL Magazine, and Modern English Teacher. His professional interests include cross-cultural communication, discourse analysis, creativity and critical thinking.

Full speech
Creativity has become a major topic with educators in Taiwan. In 2002, Taiwan¶s Ministry of Education initiated several projects concerning creativity in education, in addition to publishing a White Paper on Creative Education. Moreover, there were two conferences last year that had creativity as their theme, the 2008 International Conference 2

in Creativity Development, held at National Taiwan Normal University and the 2008 International Conference on Creative Education at National Chengchi University. Yet, many Taiwanese educators lament the lack of creativity in their classes, and seek new ways to help students develop creatively. In this paper, I will describe how two popular creative exercises, brainstorming and creative problem solving can boost creativity and develop fluency in English. I will explain these two types of activities in detail, including suggestions for maximizing their effectiveness. Then I will briefly describe my attempts to use creative problem solving in my freshman English courses. Cave (1999) defines creativity as ³the ability to generate novel and useful ideas and solutions to everyday problems and challenges.´ Using this definition, we can think of creativity as a practical skill that can help us deal with the complex problems of a rapidly changing world. While creativity is certainly not one of the major four skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) taught in language education, it can be integrated into language classes, and used to motivate students to participate in class. Brainstorming is a well-known activity for producing solutions. It was created in 1941 by Alex Osborn, an advertising executive. He found it an ideal way to get people to come up with new ideas in groups. He proposed four rules of brainstorming: Enhancing English Learning 2 1. Banish criticism. Negative comments can have an inhibiting effect on an otherwise fruitful brainstorming session. Criticism can be offered at the end of a brainstorming session if necessary. 2. The more ideas, the better. Participants in a brainstorming session should aim to produce as many ideas as possible. 3

3. Odd, bizarre ideas are welcome. Participants should be encouraged to produce the most unique ideas they can. Sometimes the most ridiculous ideas can inspire extremely practical solutions. 4. Participants can borrow and expand on others¶ ideas. This is known as piggybacking or hitchhiking. It can lead to some superb ideas. There are also some other common features to brainstorming sessions. Participants can be assigned roles. One participant should be the leader who manages the session. Another participant should be a secretary who writes down all the ideas. Also, a brainstorming session should begin with a clear problem statement, which is a sentence or a question which succinctly articulates the challenge to be discussed. There are three types of brainstorming which are highly suitable for language learning. The first is a mini-brainstorm. Students create a short list in response to a prompt. This can help student access previous knowledge and vocabulary at the beginning of a lesson. For example, in a lesson about music, students can be asked to write down 5 musical instruments or their 5 favorite singers. Then they can compare and discuss their lists in groups. Cullen (1998) provides additional information about this type of brainstorming. Enhancing English Learning 3 The second is a problem solving brainstorm, following the rules mentioned earlier in this article. This provides a framework for students to discuss personal, local, national, or world issues, and use English to generate solutions. Students can expand on a topic they covered in class, or make their own problem statements. The third is a mini-project, where students work in groups to put together a tangible product, such as a business plan or a website. This can raise the interest level, as students 4

are driven to complete the project and see the result. As Dörnyei (2001) explains, ³[t]asks which require learners to create some kind of a finished product as the outcome (e.g. student newsletter, a poster, a radio programme, an information brochure or a piece of artwork) can engage students to an unprecedented extent´ (p.77). Mehlhorn (2006) introduces some other variations of brainstorming, such as didactic brainstorming (the leader introduces the topic in general terms, and gradually reveals the true problem statement as the session progresses), brainwriting (participants take notes on different aspects of the problem statement, then exchange notes and expand on their classmates¶ ideas), and brainwalking (similar to brainwriting, but participants write on large blank sheets of paper that cover the walls of the room). I advocate the judicious use of brainstorming work in English learning for several reasons. First of all, brainstorming is highly motivating. Students often enjoy discussing problems and thinking of solutions. This can help them become more autonomous learners. Second, it¶s student-centered, so students will spend more time practicing and improving English than listening to a lecture. Third, working in groups can give students valuable practice in practical conversational skills such as taking turns, agreeing and disagreeing, and dealing with interruptions. Fourth, brainstorming activities can help students develop ideas for an assignment, such as an academic essay, a presentation, or a research project. Finally, brainstorming allows students to reach a deeper understanding of an issue through discussion. Students in ESP and academic English courses can use problem solving Enhancing English Learning 4 to deal with professional situations they will encounter in the future. For students who find brainstorming too basic, there is another useful creative exercise called creative problem solving, or CPS. It was initially created by Alex Osborn and Steven Parnes, then was developed and researched for over five decades. It is now accepted as a highly effective method of problem solving in groups that involves 5

choosing a problem, creating solutions and establishing an action plan to realize the solution. Creative problem solving consists of six stages. In the first stage, Constructing Opportunities, participants decide on a problem or challenge they would like to work on. In the second stage, Exploring Data, participants collect information relevant to the problem. In the third stage, Framing Problems, participants consider a variety of ways to phrase their problem statement succinctly and clearly. In the fourth stage, Generating Ideas, participants brainstorm solutions. In the fifth stage, Developing Solutions, participants review their ideas and look for the best ones to develop. In the sixth stage, Building Acceptance, participants put together an action plan for their proposed solution and anticipate any problems they might encounter in the process. Each stage guides them from conception of a problem to its solution. In addition, the stages present numerous opportunities to pick up new skills. For example, in the second stage, students can learn how to do web searches and find scholarly articles on the Internet or at the library. In the third stage, students examine how word choice in a problem statement can ultimately affect how the problem is approached. I¶ve recently assigned creative problem solving as a project in my freshman English courses. Students have reacted positively to the assignment as it gave them an opportunity to discuss matters related to their university lives. The groups chose topics such as ³How can Kainan University attract more international students?´ or ³How can we improve our Enhancing English Learning 5 English vocabulary?´ Throughout, students showed high levels of interest and motivation. After the assignment, I asked several students to describe their impressions of creative problem solving. One student, Anya, described the assignment¶s influence on group cohesion: ³During the process of teaming up with Patrick, Joe, and Rebecca, I found that they are 6

all willing to contribute their experiences and are easy to get along with, so I quite enjoyed working with them. However, everyone has different points of view, so it takes time to realize one¶s thoughts and need give and take. One time, I almost had a fight with Joe, ha...my bad. I should learn how to compromise and be more tolerant of other¶s opposite opinions.´ Another student, Patrick, mentioned the idea-finding stage: ³I like idea-finding the best. During the team works, all of my team members gave me a lot of ideas that I have never came up with. There are more than one hundred ideas in my group. We decided on the best three solutions, and our solutions are all easy and acceptable. I like the CPS project, because it helps me solve problems step by step.´ Carol also enjoyed working on solutions: ³The most interesting part of CPS is when our group discussed solutions. It made our group do brainstorming and we came up with crazy or funny ideas. So, my impression of CPS was that it was just a little difficult at first, but I really enjoyed it in the end.´ In conclusion, I¶d like to make a few suggestions for doing effective brainstorming: - Insist that students brainstorm in English. You might assign a group leader to maintain the use of English. Also, ask each group to do a brief oral report of their ideas at the end of the session. Enhancing English Learning 6 - Find ways to encourage interaction between the groups. For example, you can assign groups to produce problem statements for other groups to use in a brainstorming session. Alternatively, you can ask students to switch groups or even work individually to brainstorm. - Include a final product to a brainstorming session, such as a poster or a webpage, to give students a feeling of accomplishment. 7

Overall, I recommend using regular brainstorming sessions as a way to increase participation and promote the use of English for real communication. Follow the suggestions in this article, or adapt the ideas here to suit your own classes. Enhancing English Learning 7 Reference List Cave, C. (1999). Definitions of creativity. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Creative/Basics/definitions.htm Cullen, B. (1998). ³Brainstorming before speaking tasks.´ The Internet TESL Journal. Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge University Press. Mehlhorn, J. (2006, August/September). ³Fostering group activity´. Scientific American Mind. Treffinger, D. J., Isaksen, S. G.., and Stead-Dorval, K.B. (2006). Creative problem solving: an introduction (4th ed.). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. Recommended Sources of Information about Creativity Books Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking creativity. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. Starko, A. J. (2009). Creativity in the classroom. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Websites 8

Leslie Owen Wilson¶s Creativity Index http://www.uwsp.edu/education/lwilson/creativ/ Creativity Web http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Creative/index2.html 9
http://203.68.184.6:8080/dspace/bitstream/987654321/867/1/Enhancing%20English%20Learning%20T hrough%20Brainstorming.pdf

Starting the Writing Process
Starting an application essay is perhaps the hardest point in the entire process. Few people write about themselves with great confidence. Some students miss the opportunity to benefit from a fellowship application or even from graduate school because they never get over the initial reluctance to start the essay. Where do you begin? Start before you are ready. Think about the questions in Making Connections. Ask yourself, who am I, and who do I want to be? Create a folder for random notes for your personal statement or application essay. Be ready to jot down ideas at any time. Make an inventory of everything you have done as an undergraduate. Selected parts of this inventory will be featured in the essay eventually, but try to be inclusive at first. Try scheduling short appointments with yourself to generate ideas and to write. These could be for 30 minutes, or an hour, several days a week. If you can make it to practice, rehearsal, meetings, classes, or work, then you can schedule these short blocks of time for yourself, just to reflect and to write. Avoid binges in which you attempt to write a polished essay at one sitting before a deadline or meeting with an advisor. Allow yourself enough time to go through the entire process of writing and revision. After re-reading the essay prompts and the Definition of a Personal Statement, consider these techniques for generating, organizing, and drafting the essay. Generating Content To start, try to generate ideas and simply get things down on paper. Many people find it helps to try brainstorming, free writing, or clustering: 1) Brainstorming: Brainstorming means coming up with ideas of how to approach a topic. Set a time limit and write down in list form every word or phrase that comes to you about the essay topic. Make a list of things you have done or aspects of your topic. When you are finished, look over the list and look for patterns, clusters of interesting ideas, or one central idea. 2) Free writing: Once you have some ideas, set a time limit and write about each one without stopping. When the time is up, look at what you have written. Look over your writing and determine which idea seems most significant. Much of your writing will be irrelevant or even nonsensical, but you may find important insights and ideas with which to work.

3) Clustering: Clustering is a way to generate ideas using a visual scheme or chart. It is useful for understanding the relationships among the parts of a broad topic and for developing sub-topics. ‡ Write down your topic in the middle of a blank piece of paper and circle it. ‡ In a ring around the topic circle, write down what you see as the main parts of the topic and circle each one. ‡ In a ring around the main parts, write down examples, facts or details. ‡ Keep clustering until you list everything you want to say. Clustering should enable you to tell if you need to do more research on your topic. Organizing Material As you come up with information for your essay, you will need to think about how to organize it. The most efficient way to organize your ideas is through a series of outlines. ‡ Once you know the basic content of your essay, write a list of the main points you want to make. Organize the list. Try to make each point flow from the previous point and link to the next point. Sometimes, an abrupt transition may be appropriate. ‡ When you have an organized list of main points, fill in the supporting information for each one. ‡ Once you have a general sense of the organization that the essay will follow, write a detailed formal outline. A formal outline will allow you to see exactly how the parts of the essay fit together. Also, you will be able to tell if you need to do more research for a particular point. Drafting the Essay After you develop an outline, write a rough draft of the essay. If you get stuck, make a new outline. When you have written a draft, put it away for a few days and then review it again. Leave yourself plenty of time to revise and edit. Revising: Revising and editing are not the same. Revision means literally ³to look again´ at something. Take a fresh look at the organization of your points, how well they are developed, and how persuasive the essay is. Ask yourself questions like these: ‡ Do I clearly express myself? Does the essay convey my purpose? ‡ Do I take a stance on the issue I am addressing? ‡ Is the essay appropriate for an audience of application evaluators? Be willing to experiment with completely different versions. You will know when a paragraph or section begins to gel. Editing: Once you have revised your essay, edit it. Editing entails fine-tuning your prose and checking your grammar, punctuation, tone, spelling and formatting. Get an Outside Opinion

Once you have revised and edited your essay, you may be too tired of it to evaluate its effectiveness. At this point, it is a good idea to have other people read over the essay. ‡ Ask at least one a peer (a friend or a tutor at the writing center) and one expert in your field to respond to it. You may want to ask an academic advisor, professor, work supervisor, or scholarship advisor. ‡ Remember that asking someone to read your essay is a favor. If someone agrees to read it, he or she will appreciate it if the essay is as polished as you can make it. Be prepared to revise the essay again based on the feedback that you receive. If you get stuck at an earlier stage in the process, talk to other people. ³Outside opinions´ can help at any time
http://www.wpi.edu/academics/FS/starting.pdf

Brainstorm, organize thoughts and communicate ideas
Inspiration is a powerful visual thinking tool that helps clarify and organize ideas and information. Inspiration's Diagram view makes it easy to brainstorm, plan and explain the interrelationships between processes, variables and events. Use it to create concept maps, process flows, knowledge maps, flowcharts and other visual diagrams. Inspiration's integratedOutline view helps create clear, concise written proposals and reports. The symbols, templates and example files in Inspiration Professional Edition were designed specifically for diagramming, flowcharting, outlining, knowledge mapping, systems thinking, brainstorming and multimedia design. Here are some key features of "Inspiration": In the Diagram View you can: · Capture ideas as quickly as you think with the RapidFire tool. · Add as little or as much text as you want - symbols grow automatically to record your thoughts. · Illustrate ideas and convey meanings by inserting symbols from the web or other applications using the insert graphic, drag & drop, or copy & paste functions. · Show relationships between ideas with the Link tool. · Explain relationships between ideas by adding text directly on the links. · Rearrange symbols by dragging without breaking links. · Differentiate among ideas with colors, shapes, patterns, shadows, fonts and styles. · Bring writing power with visually integrated notes. · Explore multiple main ideas simultaneously. · Transform a diagram into an outline instantly! · With the simple click of your mouse, you can transform an Inspiration diagram into a

traditional hierarchical outline. In the powerful Outline View, students can quickly prioritize and rearrange ideas, helping them create clear, concise essays, reports and more. Use the Outline View to: · Organize topics by dragging - subtopics move automatically. · Plan projects and track ideas using the Checklist feature. Simply mark off completed items in either the Diagram or Outline View. · Develop topics into a written report using notes text. · Export your outline to popular word processing or presentation programs. · Toolbars make using Inspiration intuitive! · Diagram Toolbar · Outline Toolbar · Formatting Toolbar · Major Inspiration functions are at your fingertips with our smart toolbars. No need to memorize keyboard shortcuts or search through menu items to find features - just click on the toolbar and keep working! If you do have a question or problem, our fully indexed and searchable help system provides answers to all your Inspiration questions. · One click to word processing · Inspiration's one-click transfer instantly moves students' work to their favorite word processor. After working in Inspiration to brainstorm, organize and outline, students then use Microsoft Word or AppleWorks to finish the writing process and prepare their paper for publication. · Simplified template integration · Inspiration sparks teacher creativity with inspiring new ways to design and use templates . . . the fastest way to introduce visual learning and Inspiration to students in all subjects, including language arts, science and social studies. · Template Wizard - Create customized visual learning activities! The Template Wizard gives teachers step-by-step help for designing templates to support any curriculum area. · Flexible template access - Use and share templates with ease! Templates can be stored and launched from any location, making them readily available for students and teachers. · 60+ templates - Quickly integrate visual learning into your classroom! A wealth of ideas from across the curriculum inspires students and teachers to plan, organize and create. · Symbols at your fingertips · Inspiration contains over 1,300 colorful, high-resolution symbols, including several hundred photographic quality images and animated symbols. Students just scroll through the floating symbol palette to find exactly the right shape to express their thoughts. And, if you want to customize your work, you can recolorize an existing symbol or import images from other applications and the Internet. · Click here to download a PDF of the Inspiration symbol guide. To view this file you may need to install Adobe Acrobat Reader. · Audio supports multiple learning styles · Students can hear work read aloud or record their own words, adding a new dimension to their projects. A talking interface increases accessibility for all learners. · Direct connection to the Internet · You can set up live hyperlinks in Inspiration and tie the immense resources of the Internet into your diagrams and outlines. Just type in a web address and Inspiration automatically creates a hyperlink. You can also create web pages with URL hyperlinks through the HTML export function and drag & drop JEPG and GIF images into Inspiration diagrams straight from the web!

· Gather and present information from multiple sources, including documents created in Inspiration or any other application, by hyperlinking to any file. · Compatibility with Inspiration for Palm OS · Sync to and from Inspiration for Palm OS, the handheld tool to develop ideas and organize thinking. Expand and enhance diagrams created on the handheld, or transfer projects to the handheld for on-the-go visual thinking and learning! · Support of emerging technologies · Web site planning made easy · Build the bones of a new web site with the Site Skeleton export. Each symbol becomes a separate web page, complete with appropriate hyperlinks. Inspiration even creates a site map for you. Limitations: · 30-day trial What's New in This Release: [ read full changelog ] · More visual learning support for reading, writing and thinking in Diagram View · Symbol Pallette · Select from more symbol images that support curriculum content. · Lock symbols while developing templates to ensure they aren't moved or deleted by students. · Use Linking Phrases to easily explain relationships between ideas while creating concept maps. · Visual Learning · NEW Map View²A new visual view to create and think with mind maps · map view · Add new topic and subtopic branches with one click. · Rearrange and graft ideas to other branches by simply dragging them into place. · Add a note to any topic to expand upon your ideas. · Differentiate and emphasize ideas and groups using symbol images, colors and fonts. · Instantly transform your mind map into an outline to develop your writing. · More organizing, outlining and writing capabilities added to Outline View · Visual Learning example · Make visual connections in Outline View by showing or hiding symbols and Linking Phrases. · Take multiple topics and make t...
http://mac.softpedia.com/get/Educational/Inspiration.shtml 15 Februari 2011 Jam 11.04

Writing Your Term Paper Creating Your Outline
Whether you're preparing your State of the Union speech, penning the Great American Novel, or composing an essay for Writing Skills, an outline can help you organize your thoughts and plan your writing. Outlines may be unnecessary for very short essays but can be absolutely critical to keep larger works coherent and well ordered, so everybody

should learn how to create an outline. Fortunately, it's an easy, logical process, and once you make one, you'll never need to learn again. Let me reiterate: your paper depends on your outline! A good outline enhances the organization and coherence of your paper. The outline can help you organize your material, stay focused, be clear, discover connections between pieces of information that you weren't aware of, make you aware of material that is not really relevant to the purposes of your paper, help you fill in gaps, etc. Get the idea?

Why create an outline? 
Aids in the process of writing Helps you organize your ideas Presents your material in a logical form Shows the relationships among ideas in your writing Constructs an ordered overview of your writing Defines boundaries and groups 2

Table of Contents
OVERVIEW: HOW DO I CREATE AN OUTLINE?.............................................................................. 3 DO YOUR RESEARCH.................................................................................................................................. 3 DETERMINE YOUR PAPER'S THESIS AND ITS AUDIENCE AND PURPOSE. ........................................................ 3 DEVELOP THE THESIS OF YOUR PAPER. ....................................................................................................... 3 BRAINSTORM............................................................................................................................................. 3 CHOOSE YOUR OUTLINE'S STRUCTURE........................................................................................................ 3 ORGANIZE & ORDER ................................................................................................................................. 3 BRAINSTORMING.................................................................................................................................... 4 ORGANIZE & ORDER.............................................................................................................................. 5 W RITE DOWN YOUR MAIN CATEGORIES. ..................................................................................................... 5 FILL IN THE SUBCATEGORIES FOR EACH MAIN CATEGORY. ......................................................................... 5 FILL IN THE TERTIARY CATEGORIES OR SENTENCES.................................................................................... 5 CONTINUE ADDING SMALLER DIVISIONS AS NEEDED. ................................................................................. 5 TIPS.............................................................................................................................................................. 6 KEEP YOUR OUTLINE FLEXIBLE................................................................................................................. 6 SAMPLE OUTLINE................................................................................................................................... 8 W HAT IS THE ASSIGNMENT? ....................................................................................................................... 8 W HAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS ESSAY? ...................................................................................................... 8 W HO IS THE INTENDED AUDIENCE FOR THIS ESSAY?................................................................................... 8 W HAT IS THE ESSAY'S THESIS STATEMENT?................................................................................................ 8 CREATE THE OUTLINE ............................................................................................................................... 8 SOURCES .................................................................................................................................................. 10 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES................................................................................................................... 10

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Overview: How do I create an outline?
Do your research.
How much research should you do before you start your outline? At the very least, you

should have done enough to come up with a tentative thesis statement and to have a grasp of the broad main points that will be required to support your thesis. If you have just these, you can then fill in the rest of the outline as you do your research. Another way to approach research is to do it all before you begin your outline, Determine the purpose of your paper.

Determine your paper's thesis and its audience and purpose.
In an essay, speech, or nonfiction book, all parts of the outline should be constructed and organized to support your thesis or central point. Therefore, before you begin the outline you have to have a sense of what you will argue in the paper.1 You should also consider the purpose of your paper and your intended audience so you'll know what you need to include and what you can leave out.

Develop the thesis of your paper.
(See separate article: Writing Your Term Paper, Creating Your Outline: The Thesis Statement)

Brainstorm
List all the ideas that you want to include in your paper. (See Brainstorming below.)

Choose your outline's structure.
Each entry in an outline can either be a word or short phrase without punctuation (a topic outline) or a full sentence with punctuation (a sentence outline). There are advantages to both, but the important thing is that you choose one and stay consistent throughout the outline. Outlines can also be in either Roman number ± letter ± number form or they can be in decimal form. In my class, outlines should be Roman number ± letter ± number form.

Organize & Order
Arrange material in subsections from general to specific or from abstract to concrete. (See Organize & Order below.) Creating an outline before writing your paper will make organizing your thoughts a lot easier. Not only will it help you in your writing process, it will also be beneficial to your grade in my class.
1 In

a work of fiction, you probably won't have a main point (at least not before you begin writing), but you probably will have a good idea of what you expect to happen in your story.

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Brainstorming
Brainstorming is one of the more common types of informal invention. It should be used when writers encounter writers' block or when they are not sure what to write about. Brainstorming can also be used to guide writers in a certain direction if they already have a topic or idea that they wish to explore. This exercise helps writers to gather their thoughts and ideas before they begin a paper or other document. The end result of brainstorming should be lists of words that are somehow related in the writer's mind. These lists may be helpful in the preliminary writing process. Here are some guidelines for this type of invention:

1. Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes. 2. Write a topic word or a thought that you would like to explore, such as education or government at the top of your paper, and then continue writing words or phrases in list form down the page until your time has run out. 3. Assume that no word that you write is self-explanatory, so continue to focus on one topic word until you feel like you cannot describe it in any further detail, or in other words, a deeper look at an individual or minute part of a larger whole. 4. If you get stuck, look back at your lists to see if any terms need more explanation. 5. This is also an uncensored practice, so no corrections are allowed during the brainstorming process. 6. When you are finished brainstorming, re-organize your terms into lists that make sense for your paper topic. 7. If you have enough to start your paper or document, then begin working on your rough draft. If you do not have enough ideas, try another informal invention technique such as freewriting or mapping. Brainstorming is not guaranteed to break even the toughest writers' block, but it should give you an idea of where you are going with your writing process. 5

Organize & Order
Write down your main categories.
In general, you write your thesis statement at the top of the outline and omit any introduction and conclusion (although in longer papers these may be long enough to warrant inclusion in the outline). The outline thus covers only the body of the work, the information that supports the thesis. 1. Decide on your main categories. The main categories are key points of your thesis, the main divisions of your paper. For example, in a basic wikiHow article, the main categories might be "Steps," "Tips," and "Warnings." For a novel, each chapter might be a main category, or you might divide the story into its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. 2. Put your main categories in logical order. List the main categories in the order you want them in your paper. This may be chronological or thematical, but it should make sense. Label each main category with a Roman numeral (i.e. "I.", "II.", "III.", etc.) for a Roman numeral-letter-number outline.

Fill in the subcategories for each main category.
Each main category of the paper may be composed of several paragraphs. Each subcategory typically correlates to one paragraph within your paper, but in a long paper or a novel each subcategory may include many paragraphs. Indent several spaces (typically 1 tab), and write down only a short word or phrase (for a topic outline) or a brief sentence (for a sentence outline) to describe the main idea of each paragraph. Label each subcategory as a letter ("A." "B.", "C.", etc.) in a Roman number outline. Under main category "I." you will have one set of letters, and then your will start again at "A." for the first subcategory of each subsequent main category.

Fill in the tertiary categories or sentences.
Within each sub-category, list and arrange your specific notes to support or expand the argument or point made on that paragraph. The tertiary (third-level) categories will often

correlate to the order of sentences in each paragraph since each tertiary category should correlate to a distinct point or idea. Indent each tertiary category several spaces (typically 1 tab) from the beginning of each subcategory. For Roman numeral outlines, label each tertiary category as a number. So you would have "1.", "2.", "3.", etc.

Continue adding smaller divisions as needed.
While tertiary categories often correspond to individual sentences, some outlines may require smaller divisions. For example, you may have one supporting sentence (tertiary category) that is then followed by three sentences giving three specific examples of the point you made in the that sentence. These example sentences do not deserve their own tertiary categories because they don't make a new point ± they just support the supporting sentence. Thus you can break them down under that tertiary category as "a.", "b.", and "c.". Smaller divisions can be made, but are not usually necessary. 6

Tips 
Topic outlines are more brief and quicker to write, but sentence outlines are generally easier to read and more comprehensive. Word processing software makes writing outlines easier because you can add, delete, and rearrange entries at will. Many of these programs include outline format tools, as well. If you can't figure out what level (i.e. main, subcategory, or tertiary) a given point should be, ask yourself whether that point adds something completely new or different to the paper or whether it simply supports or explains a point or argument that is already there. If it supports or explains an existing category, it should be listed as a smaller division of that category. Each category type should have at least two entries. Thus, you cannot have an "A." without a "B.", a "1." without a "2.", or a "1.1.1" without a "1.1.2". Different ideas require different numbers of divisions. For example, one of your main categories may be "Advantages" in which you may have six subcategories (A-F), but your second main category, "Disadvantages," may have only three subcategories (A-C). Organize the outline according to your purposes: Are you attempting to show the chronology of some historical development, the cause-and-effect relationship between one phenomenon and another, the process by which something is accomplished, or the logic of some position? Are you defining or analyzing something? Comparing or contrasting one thing to another? Presenting an argument (one side or both)? Some methods of organizing an outline: Climactic arrangement: one that works up to your strongest point, which is delivered as a kind of grand finale. The inductive argument: in which you build up the evidence first, and then draw conclusions. A problem-solution format: involves presenting the problem first and then

outlining the solution.

Keep Your Outline Flexible
Although the format of an outline is rigid, it shouldn't make you inflexible about how to write your paper. Often when you start writing, especially about a subject that you don't know well, the paper takes new directions. If your paper changes direction, or you add new sections, then feel free to change the outline ± just as you would make corrections on a crude map as you become more familiar with the terrain you are exploring. Major reorganizations are not uncommon; your outline will help you stay organized and focused. 7 However, when your paper diverges from your outline, it can also mean that you have lost your focus, and hence the structure of your paper. How do you know whether to change the paper to fit the outline or change the outline to fit the paper? A good way to check yourself is to use the paper to recreate the outline. This is extremely useful for checking the organization of the paper. If the resulting outline says what you want it to say in an order that is easy to follow, the organization of your paper has been successful. If you discover that it's difficult to create an outline from what you have written, then you need to revise the paper. Your outline can help you with this, because the problems in the outline will show you where the paper has become disorganized. 8

Sample Outline
Here is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.

What is the assignment?
Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.

What is the purpose of this essay?
To explain the process for applying to college

Who is the intended audience for this essay?
High school students intending to apply to college and their parents

What is the essay's thesis statement?
When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.

Create the Outline
On the next page is an example of an outline that could be used for a term paper in my class. DO NOT COPY MY OUTLINE. The outline example is just to help give you some ideas. I have kept my outline very simple. You may use some points from it, but this paper is yours. What do YOU want to say? What points do YOU want to make? Remember, in my class I¶m not interested in you telling me what you think that I want to hear. I am interested in what YOU have to say! As you examine the example, please note how each numbered point lines up. Your

outlines should do the same. The way you make this happen is by using tabs (not spaces) to create the spaces in your outline. 9

Christ in You, the Hope of Glory
Your thesis statement goes here. I purposely left it out, because I want you to decide on your own point that you want to make. I. Why man needs redemption A. God is holy B. Man is sinful 1. The fall of man 2. Separation from God II. God has provided redemption A. Why God redeems B. How God redeems 1. Jesus¶ sacrifice 2. Becoming a Christian III. How ³Christ in You´ changes your life A. Fellowship with God B. Correct Self Image (based on Eph. 6:10-18) 1. Based on truth (belt) 2. Filled with righteousness (breastplate) 3. Gossiping the gospel (shoes) 4. Protected by faith (shield) 5. Having the mind of Christ (helmet) 6. Aggressive for God (sword) 7. Praying always (using the sword) 10

Sources
The information in this article is blended from several sources. In this case, these web sites should be given full credit for the content of this paper as much of it is used wordforword. Why and How to Create a Useful Outline http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/544/02/ How to Write an Outline http://www.wikihow.com/Write-an-Outline How to Make an Outline http://web.psych.washington.edu/writingcenter/writingguides/pdf/outline.pdf How to Brainstorm http://www.wikihow.com/Brainstorm

Additional Resources
An overview of how to write a term paper http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Term-Paper
http://thatcomputerlady.com/PDF/59Quick%20Tips%20--%20Term%20Paper%20Outline.pdf