Leading discussion

You will lead discussion twice in the semester: once as an individual and once in collaboration with a classmate.

Individual discussion-leading

You will take responsibility for leading discussion on one of our texts. Sign up at this link.

When you lead discussion of a text, these are your responsibilities:

  • Introduce the key ideas. What are the main points and why is this texts important? What was difficult? What was exciting? How does this text connect with others we have discussed?
  • Bring in examples (from the readings themselves or from anywhere you like: life, the universe, the internet) that can help us explore what the reading means. You can make visuals (a handout, slides, blog post) or just talk through the examples with class.
  • Ask questions to invite discussion. Your questions should be open-ended (not yes/no or one-word answers). They should not have obvious answers; good options are things that you are uncertain about yourself.
  • If you have other ideas for things to do in addition to those listed above, feel free!
  • Share your plan for discussion-leading, including the examples you plan to use, at least 24 hours before class. I also encourage you to meet with me in office hours, especially if you aren’t sure how best to proceed.

Collaborative discussion-leading

During the four weeks in the semester that we will be discussing entire books, groups of students will be responsible both for how we organize our reading and for how we carry out our discussion. This is a task that will require some pre-planning, as you will need to assign reading at least one week in advance. Sign up at this link: at least two students per book.

When you are collaboratively leading discussion, these are your responsibilities:

  • The whole book must be read, but everyone does not need to read every page or chapter. The discussion leaders must decide, with the collaboration of the class, how you will organize the reading. Which chapters seem important enough that we should all read them? Which can be assigned to individuals or to groups of students? How will you keep the reading load fair?
  • Introduce the key ideas from the book and bring in relevant examples, following the guidelines listed above for individual discussion-leading
  • Plan out the class: which elements or sections from the book will we focus on in our discussion, and in which order? Are there activities we could try?
  • Groups must meet with me after doing the reading to talk over their plans for collaborative discussion-leading.