Friday, January 27, 2006

What I Have Learned About Running Discussions

In addition to the helpful comments from readers:
  1. Directing the students to bring discussion questions that will be turned in and graded, as part of the participation grade will improve the quality of the discussion. Even better, if you are about a day behind your calendar causing the questions to be turned in the class before the discussion happens, then you can compile the questions to be distributed to the class.

  2. Breaking the class up into groups to pick a question and pre-discuss it in their group really helps. Not only do they have a low-pressure situation in which to prepare their comments, but not everyone is looking to me to approve each statement before responding to it. Added bonus: the groups were told to come up with follow-up questions to help facilitate the large-group discussion of these issues.

  3. Have prepared a slow pitch question to perk up a flagging discussion. So far I've identified one template for such a question; it should be amenable to black-and-white thinking and be accessible to someone who has only done a surface reading of the text. Today's question: Hans Thilo Schmidt: unsung hero of World War II or self-serving traitor?