English 101 Lead a Discussion 25 pts
Thu 9/29: Discussion sign-ups. I’ll ask for your top 3 choices and assemble the groups from your choices. 1.
Fri 10/7, “The Fourth of July,” by Audre Lord Fri 10/14, “Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs,” by Stephen Jay Gould Fri 10/21, “On Dumpster Diving,” by Lars Eighner Fri 10/28, “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell Fri 11/4, “Death of a Moth,” by Virginia Woolf Fri 11/18, “A Modest Proposal,” by Jonathan Swift Fri 12/22, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King
The Assignment Lead a discussion
: Once during the quarter, you’ll be responsible for helping to lead the discussion of the reading. Three or four three will lead at a time. This is not a presentation or a lecture. You will be a bit more of an expert about the reading than the rest of us, and in leading the discussion you will probably do a bit more talking than other class members, but you might also find that you do just a bit of prompting. Everyone in the group should speak as they lead the discussion.
A single group report on the discussion is due the Monday after the discussion has taken place
: This is a short report (150-250 words, word-processed, double-spaced) which answers the following questions: 1.
What do you think went well in the discussion? 2.
What do you think did not go so well in the discussion? What would you do the same if you did this again? What would you do differently if you did this again?
Grading, 25 points
. Each group member receives the same grade. The grade is based on the following criteria: Do all the group members arrive on time, prepared to lead? Do the group members show familiarity and expertise with the essay they’re discussing? Does the group get everyone in the class speaking, providing openings and invitations for quieter members to participate? Is the group report complete, proofread, and turned in on time?
What are the general goals of the reading discussions?
To find interesting ways to think about the reading. To have a lively time talking about writing and ideas. For everyone in class to participate out loud; for talkers to listen and listeners to talk. To question and analyze the readings. To discover our own thoughts about the reading. To help each other and generate ideas about the confusing parts. To gain insight into what makes good writing.
To see if the writers take Trimble’s advice. To get ideas from the readings for our own writing.
What can the leaders do to help stimulate the discussion?
Here’s a list of things discussion leaders can do: Think of a quick and participatory prompt to open the discussion. Have ideas for things to talk about if the discussion lags—it’s helpful to prepare some discussion questions for this purpose. Talk about your own response to the readings and ask for others’ responses. Help to make connections between the different things that people say. Help to keep the discussion on track if it goes off on a tangent. Help us notice not only the content of the essay, but its writing style. Help clarify confusions: You will be a bit more of an expert on this essay than the rest of us. You’ll have looked up every word you don’t know, and figured out how to make some kind of sense of confusing passages. You don’t have to understand everything perfectly, but you do have to have thought about whatever’s confusing. You might have looked up something about the author, and tell us about the author if the information would help clarify things.
Even more ideas for prompting discussion:
You could ask us to share some of our likes, confusions, and observations about the reading. You could ask us to do a preliminary, brief writing assignment to generate some thoughts about the poem. You could ask us questions about different things we notice in the reading You could ask us for ideas about how the text can help us with our own writing. You could ask us to do some brief writing of our own to conclude the discussion, and to read our writing aloud. You can ask us to find connections, or you can suggest connections, between some of the different texts we’ve read.
Even more ways to prompt discussion:
Encourage others to speak. Use your classmates’ names. Connect one person’s comment with another’s. Summarize what the discussion has said so far and see if there’s more to add. Urge participants to explain further, to find examples in the text, etc.
: I act as a back-up. I help to keep the discussion going and to introduce interesting points, but I don’t take over.