Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Inspiration & Connection

Clustering Exercise

Clustering is similar to another process called Brainstorming. Clustering is something that you can do on your own, or with friends or classmates to find inspiration in the connection between ideas. The process is similar to free-writing. Jot down ideas on a piece of paper or on the blackboard. Don't allow that ugly self-censor to intrude and say that your idea (or anyone else's) is dumb or useless. Write it down anyway.

In Clustering, you jot down only words or very short phrases.

  • After you've generated some ideas, use linking lines as connections suggest themselves.
  • Use different colored pens as ideas seem to suggest themselves in groups or subgroups.
  • Don't cross anything out because you can't tell where an idea will lead you. When you get a few ideas written down, you can start to group them, using colored circles or whatever.
  • One strategy that may also work for you is to suggest ideas that are main thoughts or supportive ideas by using printing or longhand script. This is only an organizational tool. You can also use asterisks, stars, smily faces, high-lighting pens or whatever system appeals to you. So long as you know what it means, the symbols will work to cue you about main ideas and the ones that act as support. 
  • Don't bother to organize too neatly, though, because that can impede the flow of great ideas. This is an idea building strategy and not a finished paper.

Figure 1: example of a clustering exercise

Points to Ponder:

Can you draw additional links between concepts?

Are there ideas listed above that you'd reject as irrelevant or too much to deal with?

Can you think of some ideas (or a whole set of ideas) that should have been included but weren't? 

Should they be included in your essay?

Do you think you could write an essay using the ideas clustered from group discussion?

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