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Cluster diagrams (also called cloud diagrams) are a type of non-linear graphic organizer that can help to systematize the generation of ideas based upon a central topic. Using this type of diagram, the student can more easily brainstorm a theme, associate about an idea, or explore a new subject .
To create a cluster diagram, the student first thinks of as many terms or ideas relating to the stimulus topic as possible (and then writes the second-level ideas in circles attached to the main topic) - this first step is like creating a star diagram. Then the student explores each of these new second-level ideas in turn, and for each, finds as many related ideas as possible (and adds these third-level terms to the diagram around the idea). If more detail is desired, the previous step can be repeated for each of the third-level ideas (or more).
For example, a cluster diagram can be used to create a graphic display to brainstorm about a topic like pollution. The first level of ideas could be specific types of pollution (like air pollution, water pollution, polluted soil, etc.), and the second-level could be details on each of those subtopics (for air pollution, you could include causes of air pollution, effects of air pollution, how to stop it, etc.). You could go on to include further details on these third-level topics, and more levels, until you are out of ideas.
Color coding can be very helpful in making an easy-to-understand cluster diagam.
Cluster Diagram Printout
The main theme leads to 4 topics, each of which lead to 3 topics. You can use this printout as a base for your own brainstorming, just add extra bubbles for extra ideas.
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