|William Cowper, The Anatomy of Humane Bodies (1698)|
Image source: Book Use, Book Theory exhibit
Side note: As an early modernist, I couldn't resist posting this image from the 17th-century anatomy theater. It plays on the source of knowledge--both body and book--and nicely contextualizes my own thinking about discussion. Or, at least I'd like to think so.
I. WARM UP
- Give everyone a chance to "warm" their brains up, come up with some ideas, and get on the same page (not to mention remembering the text/homework if they came straight from an exam, lunch, etc.)
- Try to get everyone to participate before the main conversation begins to build confidence & openness
- Encourage evidence-based responses NOT opinion
- Think Pair Share
- Free Write (1-minute paper) with an advanced organizer handout
- Respond with a word or phrase
- 3 observations, 2 emotional responses, 1 question
- Text to Self, Text to Text, Text to World
- Have students generate their own discussion questions (alone, with partner, or in group)
- Generate a Do/Don't list for Discussion Groundrules (do this on first or second class, ideally--or online)
- Don't come with a hidden agenda or set of answers; come with goals & issues you'd like raised
- Your job is to facilitate "aha" moments and prod students to think in new ways--not to teach them what to think
- Avoid questions that have informational or yes/no answers
- Use discussion questions that get at issues, problems, conflicts…not "answers" (students can see through you to your secret "agenda")
- Have students answer discussion questions they came up with (night before or during warm-up)
- Give a handout (or blog post) with possible questions for the day and let them choose
- Try not to run discussion until the very, very end. Give time for at least a minute or two to come above water and make sense of it all.
- Ask students: "What can we take away from today?" or "How has this discussion complicated or changed the ideas you cam to class with?"
- Ask students to reflect in a meta-way (as future teachers, especially): "What content/skills/strategies/tools/calls to action are you leaving with?"