“Novel Ideas Only”
Students are assigned to groups of four (4). The teacher poses the prompt/question and then asks the students (in each
group) to do the following:
To number a loose leaf page from 1-8
To work collaboratively to brainstorm possible responses/answers to the prompt/question – students are given 5
minutes to do so
As a new idea is asserted or stated aloud, another student from the group reiterates the contribution and then all
students write it down on their individual sheet of paper
After 5 minutes, the teacher directs the students to draw a line under the last item offered by the group
All groups are then asked to share their group’s list:
a. Each group stands and one “reporter” shares the group’s ideas
b. The “reporter” starts the process by restating the prompt/question
c. The teacher reminds all other groups that they must listen to the first group very carefully because each
ensuing group will only share a group’s idea if it was not shared by any other group before them – this
step of the protocol is key for the strategy to work and hold true to its name (“Novel Ideas Only”)
d. As the groups share their “Novel Ideas Only”, the rest of the groups are writing the new contributions
from each group to each of their individual lists. To facilitate this process, the teacher can also generate a
separate running list on chart paper, so that students that have difficulty writing and listening
(simultaneously) can copy the list after they have listened attentively to the contributions of all the groups
e. The end product of this activity allows for a class to generate a compilation of “Novel Ideas Only” as
responses to the given prompt/question.
When would I use “Novel Ideas Only” in the classroom?
The object of this strategy is to create a purposeful and engaging opportunity for students to work in teams of four (4) to
brainstorm responses to a particular prompt/question that a teacher poses during class time, either as an introductory,
review or share activity.
How can I use the activity with Beginner ELL students?
Beginner students can benefit greatly from a question/prompt that requires them to reflect on a personal experience or
requests that are related to an immediate context where a sequence of pictures, photographs and other forms of realia help
contextualize the particular task.
In a predictable context, students at a low-to-mid beginning level of ESL should only be expected to identify everyday
personal topics, as well as common individual words and learned phrases – they may even respond in their native
language. Whenever possible, try to generate work/collaborative groups that are heterogeneous (i.e., 1 Beginner student,
2 Intermediate students and 1 Advanced student). This type of grouping allows for those students that are more proficient
in English to model the proper use of it, as well as the academic language within context when appropriate.
How this strategy was used at Cadre:
Name a recorder for your group.
A question will be posed.
Table whiparound to answer the questions.
Recorder captures responses.
Table 1 shares their best / favorite answer.
Next table shares a new / different answer.
All tables share, but each table can share only new ideas that haven’t previously been shared.
Ask next question. Repeat process. Begin with different #1 table group.