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Discussion Circle Guidelines

We are going to have 4 discussion circles, with 4 different leaders (thus 4 different topics)
each session. The discussion leader will do research on the topic, finding one suitable
text to supplement the discussion. This project will give you a chance to practice finding
and preparing materials, and you will also have the experience of leading a group
Before the discussion, the leaders will:
1. Select a topic
The leaders will select a topic and text to support the topic. They will also prepare
discussion materials.
2. Introduce the topic
During the class before your discussion, the leaders will provide 1 article to their
members for reading homework. The text should be not long, and discussion leaders
should prepare a few questions to aid with comprehension and/or key vocabulary
definitions included (not many definitions, only as absolutely necessary).
3. Prepare an outline of the discussion
On the discussion day, the leaders should bring a handout that outlines the points to
be covered during the discussion. This will help you lead the discussion and keep it
on track. Finally, you should have some discussion questions (5 or so new ones) to
give your group something to talk about.
During the discussion, the leader will:
1. Introduce the topic (3min)
This might include brief background information and history of the topic, or the
main issues and views (pro/con) that people have on the topic. You may state your
personal opinion on the topic or you may choose to support the least-popular side of
the argument in order to encourage discussion. Here you could answer any basic
questions your group members have about the topic.
2. Lead the discussion (~20min)
Keep the discussion moving (dont let people get bored) and make sure everyone
contributes to the discussion. Also, you want to make sure that one person doesnt
talk too much. (see previous discussion topic for more ideas).
3. Report the results of discussion to class
The leader will report the summary of discussion to class, so you should take a few
notes during the discussion.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Next page: how to facilitate a good discussion.


Q: What is the difference between these three? What is the purpose(s) for each activity?
Think about this question as you prepare your discussion.
1. Discussion
2. Argument
3. Debate
The Discussion Leader: Do NOT dominate the discussion. This is not your
presentation. Leaders job is to facilitate a mutual, balanced conversation among group
1. Anticipate the different points of view. Your ideas may be questioned.
2. Approach every discussion with a respectful attitude toward the other participants.
Your ideas are NOT better than others.
3. Contribute but don't dominate. Let others talk. If you tend to talk too much, you
need to exercise a little restraint.
4. Judge ideas responsibly. Ideas vary in quality.
5. Don't be afraid to change your opinion/mind for a good reason. There is no single
right answer.
6. Resist the urge to interrupt. Be patient and listen to others, wait for your turn.
7. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable yourself. Never say, You are
Avoid distracting speech mannerisms

Starting one sentence and then switching to another

Never finish/conclude your sentences
Repeating too many times (but the point is not clear)
Mumbling or slurring your words (inaudible/unclear utterances)
Punctuating every phrase with audible pauses (um, ah, eh)
Agreeing what you just said by yourself (yeah, yes, thats right)
Overusing meaningless expressions (like, you know, I mean, man)
Saying OK? after each sentence

(adopted from http://www.newliving.com/issues/apr_2004/articles/mindmatter.html, New

Living Magazine)