Since many students come to our classrooms with limited experiences, this is a wonderful tool to help them brainstorm and plan topics based on the experiences they do have. It allows them to respond to the writing prompt or topic in a class, group, partner and/or solo setting in order to quickly come up with possible ideas. It is best to brainstorm WITH your students as a class the first several times they respond to a prompt so that you can train them to think outside the box. Too many students write about the first thing that pops into their heads, and the problem with that is that too many other kids thought of those exact same ideas! That makes grading essays pretty boring. In Texas, the graders on the actual test are usually the same from one school to the next, so it is critical to teach your students to think of what I call the "BLING" response to the prompt instead of the "BLAH!"