Grade the Ideas

Grades 7 - Adult


Brainstorm __________ not ___________

Grade the ideas

Grading Ideas

Now that you have lots of ideas, it is time to find the best ones.

Who is more important – customers or salespeople?  The same is true of readers and writers. Readers do not want to read about what interests you. They want to read about what interests them. The trick is to find subjects that interest both of you.

Use the following grades to determine if an idea is worth communicating.

A = adult stranger probably does not know much about this AND is likely to say Wow!

B = adult stranger probably does not know much about this.

C = adult stranger probably knows this OR probably is not interested.

Why Adult Strangers?

You shouldn’t write essays or papers for family, friends, or classmates. Speaking face-to-face, phoning, or texting is much more effective for those people.

When you write, pretend your reader is an adult you do not know.

Adults lead hectic lives. Reading about what they already know, or about people they do not know and therefore do not care about, wastes adults’ valuable time.

Would you like to read about what you already know or doesn’t interest you?


For an idea to receive an “A” it must be “cool.” It must make an adult stranger want to say “Wow!”

Don’t be surprised if your group has few A ideas the first time you brainstorm.  It takes practice.  

Task 1.2.1 – Small Group

You are taking a road trip. Brainstorm what might go wrong. 

Common Sense

Common sense tells you an educated adult would think of the ideas below. The grades:

    • flat tire                                                  C
    • crying baby                                           C
    • medical problem                                   C
    • run out of gas                                        C
    • hitchhiker who is a murderer                C

No “A” Ideas?

But what if you cannot think of any A ideas?  Don’t panic.  Do one or more of the following:

    • Brainstorm more ideas.
    • Funnel down B or C ideas.
    • Piggyback.


A funnel starts big at the top and narrows to a small part at the bottom.

Imagine your thinking as a funnel when you brainstorm. Once you have an idea, keep making it smaller.

Example A:  

            Car trouble

                        Flat tire

                                    Forgot the jack

                                                The jack doesn’t work

Let’s look at a couple more:

Example B:

            Someone gets sick


                                    Sick from eating peanut butter

Example C:

            We get lost

                          The GPS doesn’t work

                                    We’re late to a where we are going

Task 1.2.2 – Small Group

Take one of your B or C ideas and funnel it down to at least 15 more-specific ideas.

An Example

The following is an example of part of a brainstorming session when students funneled ideas. The prompt was, What is something you like to do?


  • Play basketball                                                 C
  • Shoot around                                                    C
  • Play horse                                                         C
  • Shoot free-throws                                             C

Second session – funnel “shoot free-throws”

  • Concentrate on balance                                                                          B
  • Pretend I’m in a real game                                                                     C
  • Visualize the shot                                                                                   C
  • Visualize the shot before shooting                                                         B
  • Use my coach’s visualization method                                                    A
  • Tape-record and analyze my shooting                                                    A
  • Teach my little brother to shoot                                                              C
  • Teach my little brother about wrist control                                             C
  • Teach my little brother (he has cerebral palsy) about wrist control        A


Another way to brainstorm is to piggyback.  If someone comes up with an idea, you come up with similar ones.

Our journey by car might produce piggyback ideas such as

Mechanical Problems

            Flat tire

            Alternator goes bad

            Car overheats

            Radiator explodes

            Brakes go bad

            Tailpipe falls off


Brainstorm  ___________ not ____________

_________ the ideas