Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Collective Brain Dump

K20 Center, Adrian Trejo | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Collective Brain Dump

Students access previous knowledge by first working independently and then with a group to brainstorm list that defines a given topic before creating a whole-class list together.

Collective Brain Dump


Teachers provide an artifact (preferably a graphic representation like a video, image, etc.) that represents a specific topic. Individual students brainstorm independently, collaborate in small groups, and share with the whole group. 


  1. Provide an artifact that triggers students' memories.

  2. Students have 3-4 minutes to create a list that represents their knowledge of the topic the artifact represents.

  3. Arrange students into small groups.

  4. Students collaborate with their groups to share knowledge and add to their lists.

  5. When groups seem to be done sharing with one another, have each group share their knowledge with the whole class.

  6. As groups share, write list items on the board or projector to create a whole-class product.

  7. Using the whole-class list, address misconceptions and gaps in knowledge.

Gould, J. (1978). Effect of individual, small group, and large group method of presentation on modal performance in college men and women. Perception and Motor Skills, 46(2), 625-626. Retrieved from