Developing ideas

Developing ideas requires the student to think deeply about a topic and analyse various aspects. Generating ideas and igniting creativity is vital before completing writing tasks. This requires students to develop and express an understanding through expanding what is meant by the idea.


Explicit teaching

Students need to be shown how to allow ideas to flow whilst recording them also. Develop mind mapping strategies through training students to identify the key idea and sets of questions to ask of this idea to map a thought process which becomes the foundation for a piece of writing.

The image below demonstrates the types of questions to pose that are able to guide the process of developing an idea through a mind mapping activity.

What, how, why, who, where and when

It is often helpful in developing ideas to adapt to modes of thinking: divergent and convergent thinking. In the divergent thinking mode ideas are to be expanded on, developed, tangents explored. After this mode then we can switch into convergent thinking where we refine, make connections and streamline our thinking. Moving from one mode to the other is important in order to deepen and then crystallise our ideas.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: picture it

This activity can be implemented to introduce or summarise a topic.

  • Think: Ask students a focus question and provide wait time, for example: how do lifestyle choices impact on our health?
  • Pair: use the mind mapping template (found below) to identify and collate associated ideas about the focus idea (i.e. “lifestyle choice”)
  • Students use the mind mapping template to guide and deepen their thinking on the focus idea (divergent thinking mode).
  • Students then spend time consolidating and ordering their mind map into a writing plan (convergent thinking mode). This plan could consolidate 3 key aspects, which form a basis of a written response to the question.

Activity 2: think/pair/share

This strategy allows students to generate more ideas prior to writing through joint construction.

  • Think: Ask students a focus question and provide wait time e.g. How do lifestyle choices impact on our health?
  • Pair: students pair up to tell a partner their ideas (focusing on the idea of lifestyle choice). This allows rehearsal, generates more ideas and student to student modelling (divergent thinking mode).
  • Share: students to take turns sharing their ideas with the class. This can be verbally whilst the teacher collates the responses on the board or students to type straight onto a class collaboration tool.
  • Divergent thinking: remind students it is not about being right or wrong and encourage all suggestions.
  • Convergent thinking: Students identify 8 key points about the idea and order their thoughts into a writing plan.
  • Keep suggestions visible as students then compose 1 to 2 structured paragraphs based on their planning which answers the question.

Two mind mapping resources: (a) a scaffolded mind map and (b) a blank mind map template.


Australian curriculum

ACELY1725: Creating texts: Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas.

NSW syllabus

EN4-5C:Outcome 5: thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretatively and critically about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts

(EN4-5C) - Respond to and compose texts: discuss aspects of texts, for example their aesthetic and social value, using relevant and appropriate metalanguage.

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