Last November, I wrote about how I used Question of the Day with my masters class (check the link to see the general purpose and directions). It worked so well that I thought I would implement it in my Politics of Reading class this semester. What I want to do in this post is share with you the different techniques I used when implementing QOD in my undergraduate class. I thought it might be helpful to have a collection of techniques listed in one place (if not for you then for me in the future!).
A few things to note before we get started:
(a) last semester, my masters class was hybrid. this means we met in person about every other week. we only did QOD when we met in person.
(b) my Politics of Reading course met every week, and I intended for them to do QOD most every week, but sometimes it got to be a bit much. sometimes we needed a break. it is my opinion that every other week is better for QOD.
Overall, I found that the techniques below worked well and helped to provide some variety to our discussions.
You should have entered 1-3 questions onto the spreadsheet. Review the other questions on the sheet.
We will split up into groups of five(ish). Each group will identify one question from the list they wish to explore. It is ok if more than one group explores the same question. Highlight the question your group identified on the sheet.,
You will have five minutes to briefly discuss the question your group has identified. When time is up, I will ask each group to briefly share their thoughts on the question they identified and discussed.
Next, we went on to explore the class blog a bit and the most recent postings. The idea here was to give them some exposure to more thoughts on the readings for that day. Then, I asked them to return back to the question they identified and carry on in the following manner:
You will return to your group and revisit the question you were exploring. We will first watch a video featuring Larry Cuban discussing ed reform. How did hearing what others discussed, watching the video, and looking at the blog, further your thoughts on the question? You will again have five minutes to discuss and then we will quickly share out.
Each group will identify one question that interests them. Select a question a member of your group did not write. Identify a question and mark it on the spreadsheet. Once the question is taken, it is off limits to other groups. Take about five minutes to discuss your question. Each group member should be prepared to discuss their question with other groups.
After you have discussed the question, we will reconfigure into new groups (which I again assigned).
Each member will have 2-3 minutes to share the question they identified and what their group discussed.
Next, within your new group, identify one idea or question you have that arose from your discussion to share with the entire class.
Place yourself in a group of 4 people (one group will be a group of five). In your group, do the following:
1, Identify a question to be discussed (any question is fine).
2. Take two-three minutes to organize your thoughts about the question. Do this in silence.
3. Next, each person has up to three minutes to share their thoughts. When someone is talking, no one else may speak (not even to ask a question).
4. After everyone has spoken, the floor is open to whoever wants to talk.
5. When the floor opens, anyone can speak BUT you can only talk about/ask questions about idea spoken by others.
6. Summarize the key ideas that came up from your group and be prepared to share out.
Today, we will start by nominating one question for discussion. We will then follow the fishbowl format. The steps are:
1. Break into six groups of three.
2. Nominate any question from the QOD spreadsheet
3. Highlight the question your group selected
4. We will come back together as a class. Individually, review the questions that have been highlighted and vote on your favorite (but not the one you nominated).
5. We will then start the fishbowl using the question with the most votes. We can transition into other related topics/questions from there.
Recall the rules of the fishbowl discussion format:
1. Set up six chairs in a circle in the middle of the room.
2. Five volunteers step into the circle. One chair is always empty.
3. The discussion begins. Center it on your reading experiences in school.
4. If you are not in the fishbowl, you can join it at anytime. Simply take the empty chair that is available.
5. When someone takes the empty chair someone else must leave (only one person can leave). This can be anyone.
We are going to take a different approach to our QOD discussion. We will still focus on an area of interest to you as it relates to the readings, but rather than post a question on the spreadsheet, today I want you to post one of the following on the QOD spreadsheet:
1. A quote from the reading (be sure to include the page number).
2. Key words or phrases from the text that you think are important
3. An issue from the text that you would like to discuss more.
When we reach this point in class, I will have you do the following:
1. You will be given an index card
2. On the card, write whatever you entered into the QOD spreadsheet for today (or, if you have a new idea write that down)
3. Put your name on the card.
4. Turn the card back in
From here, we will start the discussion as follows:
1. The cards will be redistributed. Make sure you do not have your own card
2. Take a look at your card. You will have several minutes to write a response/make notes about what is on your card. You can write on the card.
3. Each card has a number on it (1-18). I will randomly draw numbers.
4. If your number is selected, you will start a discussion based on your card and response. Discussions about each card will not extend beyond five minutes.
5. Once a discussion has ended, I will select a new number and restart the process.
Note, although you may never be called on to lead a discussion all the notes you made on your card are relevant to the topics we are discussing. Therefore, you should be able to contribute in a meaningful way.
A Student Reacts
Overall, I really don’t know what my students thought about QOD. However, one of them had this to say in a post near the end of the semester:
I have to say, that I’ve never been in a class that was assessed the same way as this one. We came up with a question about the weekly reading rather than answers from it.
I had never thought about it like that. But it’s true. I never assigned questions for them to answer about the readings. I asked them to do the reverse. QOD asks students to consider what they want to talk more about. What moves you? What confuses you? What should we discuss? And class is framed from there. I don’t try to do a reading comprehension check because I assume that students will not fully understand the readings. That is why we have class. I expect them to do the readings and make sense of it the best they can and then work it out some more during our time together. I also expect their comprehension of the readings to evolve across the semester. If they went back and reread the readings for week one right now, I would expect them to see it in a whole new light.