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Ministry of Education.

New ideas/Novel ideas

How to use new ideas

This is a fast way of eliciting the knowledge or intuitions that reside in a group about a specific topic. Participants work in teams of four, brainstorming responses to a prompt that the teacher or professional developer has posed. On individual papers, each group member writes down the given heading and prompt, and numbers the page from 1 to 8, as in the example:

We think that a novel called The Pearl could be about the following:


In this example, the teacher would explain that students will have three minutes together to brainstorm possible contents of the novel. As each idea is offered, a second students echoes the idea and all group members add it to their individual lists. It is important that all lists in a group be the same. Students who know more English help those who know less English. It is better for a team to have only one or two items that are written in the best possible way that all can agree on than to have one student write five items while others have fewer or none.

When three minutes have passed, the teacher asks all students to draw a line under the last item in the group's list. Then all the teams stand, grouping themselves so that each team is distinct from the others. The teacher calls on one student from a group to read the team's ideas. The student starts by reading the prompt, "We think that a novel called The Pearl may be about...", and then adds whatever ideas the team has agreed on.

The rest of the class must pay attention because after the first group has presented all of their ideas, the teacher asks them to sit down and calls on a student from another team to add to that team's "novel ideas only". Ideas that have been presented cannot be repeated.

As teams complete their turns and sit down, each student must begin recording novel ideas from other groups below the line that marks the end of his or her team's ideas. The lists for all team members should be identical above the line, but after the line they will vary.

Whenever a team is standing and their last novel idea is covered by another team, at that moment, not waiting to be called on by the teacher, they take their seats and are free to begin adding novel ideas to their paper. Only one team, the last one standing, will not be able to add ideas below the line.

When all ideas have been given, the teacher assigns a number to each team. Students write their team number in the right margin of the paper, providing the teacher with a quick way to sort team papers and check everybody in a group has followed instructions.

Copyright © 2007 WestEd. All rights reserved. From Quality Teaching for English Learners, by Aida Walqui and associates.
Reprinted by permission of WestEd, San Francisco.

The benefits of new ideas

  • Provides opportunities for noticing and hearing new language for English language learners.
  • Helps students to build on their prior knowledge by recalling their own and listening to others' prior knowledge.
  • Engages all students.
  • Encourages students to want to read the text to see if their predictions were correct.

Watch this video to see a year 12 English class using New ideas

Published on: 18 Dec 2017