Think and Learn (Workout D)

Once you understand the goal and scope of your essay topic, you need to have something to say!

The next step in the essay writing process is to think and learn. Some of the ideas in an essay will come from your own creativity and critical thinking and some will come from reading and research.

For this activity, let’s focus on the topic:

Discuss why video games are a useful tool in the primary school classroom.

For our example, we won’t do any research. Let’s make up an essay based on ideas we might already have about the topic.

Ok, go ahead, … .1, 2,3 …. Think. Are you thinking?

No, probably not yet. This is hard; it’s where all the work happens for the essay. Too often students skip this part and go straight to the writing stage and try to think while staring at that blinking curser. We need some tools to help us think.

Thinking Questions

It’s always a good idea to start by identifying what you need to know. We know the goal of this essay is to present conclusions about why video games are (or are not) useful in the primary school classroom.

Now you can develop a set of smaller questions for each different part of the essay topic – we in a variety of ways call these ‘thinking questions.’

Let’s try that.

Look again at the essay question and write some smaller questions that will draw out what you need to know.

Thinking Questions (Sample Answers)

What kinds of information do you need to know to write this essay?

  1. How are video games actually used in primary classroom? Examples?
  2. How will I define “useful” when I talk about video games? Can I find other people who have defined this?
  3. What benefits are there to using video games in the classroom?
  4. What are the downsides of video games in the classroom?
  5. Do I think video games are useful in the classroom? Why? Why not? Examples?

Download Sample Answers


We can use our thinking questions to help us generate ideas for the content of our essay. This is often called brainstorming and people do in a variety of ways.

Sometimes students like to make lists of ideas and information.

Sometimes students like to free write and see what comes out. Free-writing is when you just sit and face that flashing curser and start writing without any thought to order or grammar. It can be a great way to tap into your problem-solving skills or to think creatively about a topic.

And sometimes students like to draw maps and diagrams of their ideas. These can help create a visual representation of the ideas and explore connections between them.

Ok, it’s time to get back to work. Using our thinking questions as a guide, spend some time brainstorming ideas for this essay. Use whatever style of brainstorming that suits you! Try different ways for fun!

Take few minutes now to compare your ideas with this sample mind map. I’m sure some of the ideas might be like the ones you came up with, and you may have some that we didn’t even think of!


The green bubbles lists how video games could be used in the classroom and ideas about the pros and cons of using them.

The blue bubbles begin to explore how we might define the term “useful” and, thus, can take us towards how we might answer the question about “why video games are a useful tool in the classroom.”

Now, we have plenty of raw ideas for the essay and we can start to think about how to organize them.