To have productive discussions, it is important to prepare and to have something to contribute to keep the conversation going. To this end, you will choose roles that have specific tasks for your discussion groups. The objective is for each person to enter a discussion session prepared to share different perspectives that emerged from the same text.
Format. The roles differ and so do formats, so there is no length requirement for your discussion post. While you are welcome to include a summary, this is not the substance of your preparation. The task roles describe the expectation for each role and these will determine success.
Director. The Director’s job is to facilitate a worthwhile discussion and to make sure the conversation has a great start and moves through smoothly. Depth is sometimes more useful in a discussion than breadth; you don’t have to push past a lively, engaged discussion just to make sure that you get to all your questions. Engagement in a question can indicate a well-crafted question. Directors help the group talk about the large ideas found in the text. Directors listen carefully to the direction and substance of the group’s discussion, balance the time spent on particular ideas, and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute. The Director’s job is to facilitate not control the conversation, which means being particularly conscious that all voices and ideas are acknowledged.
As Director, you will provide:
- 5 – 7 open (Links to an external site.) questions (or their equivalent in depth/insight).
- A response to the course material’s major concerns and concepts (several clear topics of interest)
Locator. The Locator’s job is to find particularly relevant or surprising passages or information in the text that should be discussed. The goal is to consider the interesting, powerful, puzzling, or important sections in the course material more closely and to discuss the impact and connections between those passages and other ideas and contexts within the course.
As Locator, you provide:
- Clear and cited references to at least 3 specific passages, including pages and locations (paragraph, etc.) where passages can be found
- An accompanying explanation for each passage that proposes meaning and relevance, not summary
Contextualizer. The Contextualizer’s job is to find connections between this text and other material from class, other texts outside of class, personal experiences, community concerns, and the outside world in general. For example, a Contextualizer might consider how this text or its topics connect to what we are hearing about in the news or other arenas of life. There are no right answers here, but the stretch to tie ideas and events together is the task. A Contextualizer uses research to locate important statistics and information from other sources to aid in understanding events, choices, or groups within the text and/or to inspire discussion about events, choices and characters outside the text.
As Contextualizer, you provide:
- At least 3 explored and explained connections that can be made between course material and external information
- An explanation of how and why such connections can be made
- Cited resources for your connections that can be easily accessed by group members
- “Women’s Unequal Lot (Links to an external site.),” New York Times, 12 April 2014
- “Pay Gap is Because of Gender, Not Jobs, (Links to an external site.)” New York Times, 23 April 2014
- White Fragility (Links to an external site.)