Small Groups:  Topics

Friday's class will be divided into groups of 3.  Each group will have responsibility for leading and/or responding to the Friday discussion. Groups will consist of the following:

a discussion group, a critiquing group, and a fact-finding group.  Each group will prepare for four of these discussions over the course of the semester. 

Responsibilities for the discussion groups are as follows:  The discussion group will lead the class discussion for that day. This requires doing the assigned reading two weeks in advance so that your group can provide a close written analysis of that reading which will be posted on Moodle by Monday afternoon the week of your discussion.  This analysis should include pointed questions or comments that you would like the rest of the class to consider.  Each person in the group will decide in advance which aspect of the reading they wish to analyze. Each member of the group should write a paper of at least 3 typed pages. Each group will prepare for four of these discussions over the course of the semester. 

Responsibilities of the critiquing group:  One group will also be assigned the responsibility of critiquing the papers closely. Your responsibility is to read the analysis, respond to its arguments and comments, and evaluate its effectiveness.  Some factors to consider:

1.  Is there a clear thesis?  Can you ascertain the writer's point of view within the first paragraph?

2.  Effectiveness of arguments and use of evidence.

3.  Are there counterarguments that can be made?

4.  How helpful and relevant are the posted questions to furthering a good discussion?

Note: Neither the discussing group nor the critiquing group receives grades based upon your comments. These in-class discussions are intended to help all of you become better thinkers and writers. Constructive criticism is not to be feared! However, each of you will get a weekly grade from me that will assess your effectiveness in engaging with the material, thinking carefully about the evidence, ramifications, and new information provided by the fact-finding group.

Responsibilities of the fact-finding group:  Your responsibility is to find out something about the week's topic that you didn't know. For these assignments you will turn in one-two page typed response essay including a summary of your findings and the source that you used. You will be expected to report on your findings to the rest of the class on the Wednesday of that week. How does this information contribute to the overall topic? You also have the responsibility to read the discussing groups' essays and to carefully consider the questions and arguments posed by the discussion group and to contribute to a vigorous discussion.

Discussion groups will be assigned topics as follows:

Group 1:  Topics 3, 6, 9 and 12
Group 2:  Topics 4, 7, 10 and 13
Group 3:  Topics 5, 8, 11 and 14