Dr. Patrick Ryan

Discussion Instructions - History 3850F/G

This part of the course is based on our evaluation of your weekly, prepared participation.  Four-fifths (20% of your course mark) of it will be based on the degree to which you actively engage in sharing and responding to the readings through discussion.  One-fifth (5% of your course mark) of it will rest with your performance as a moderator.

What do Strong Participants Do?

1) Separated from their notes, they bring to discussion a single question about the reading. 

(Note: Your questions will be collected weekly in-person, and they won't be returned to you.  You may not send your question via email, or have it delivered to me by another student.  Attendance does not constitute participation, but participation does require attendance.)

2) Come to discussion prepared - having read the text, having the text with you, having a question with you.

3) Volunteer to read your question.  Respond to questions posed or comments made by others. 

4) Volunteer to respond to the questions that were circulated by the commentator via email prior to class.  (See below)

5) Strong participants combine wit, insight, and critical thought.  Their comments and questions display: 
            a) a comprehension and careful handling of the readings 
            b) some knowledge of the issues being discussed 
            c) the ability to consider the assumptions of an argument
            d) the ability to consider the implications of an argument  

6) Refrain from activity which disrupts a focused classroom environment, such as arriving late or leaving early.  Students should schedule appointments, employment, and classes so they don't interfere with each other.  Please turn-off cell-phones and other communication devices.  Don't attempt to create a transcript, and think about whether it is necessary to have your laptop open. 

What do strong Moderators do?

Over 11 or 12 discussion sessions, everyone will be given an opportunity to lead discussion.  These details will be worked-out during the first week of class when we make the moderator schedule. 

1) Prepare a three minute 'opening comment' on the reading.  The 'opening comment' should A) attempt to locate the thesis or main idea in a specific passage of the readings.  B) offer an assessment of the significance of the readings' argument for childhood or for social institutions  C) provide a comment upon the reading's use of evidence, keywords, or its central assumptions.  

2) Construct a list of 3-5 starter questions.  Pose these questions to the seminar and moderate discussion of them.  Ask others to pose their questions.

3) Circulate to your group via email a summary comment and starter questions