Lead a Discussion Project
Schedule | Leading a Discussion assignment page | Download a handout |

What to do?
  1. Choose an academic topic that interests you and will probably interest the rest of the class too. An academic topic is one that can be researched. We'll vote on your topic as a class, and if most of your classmates like your topic, then you're good to go.
  2. Do some research: Use the internet to find information about your topic. Do enough research so that you are familiar with your topic. We'll discuss this more in class.
  3. Choose a good way to present your topic to the class. I suggest you use Power Point to present your topic to the class. Make sure that the presentation material is suitable for the students of this class, and that you paraphrase the info you include in your Power Point.
  4. Make a set of discussion questions, and also define any new/unfamiliar vocabulary terms. Your discussion questions should include three fact questions to check that your classmates understand the important information in your presentation, and three opinion questions to get your classmates to discuss your topic.
  5. Lead a 15 - 20 minute discussion on your topic. The 15 - 20 minutes includes time for your Power Point...plus the discussion. Advice: You should have about 10 - 15 minutes of presentation and 5 minutes of small group discussion. If you need more time tell me and I'll schedule more time for you.

We will spend about six days in class preparing for this project:
  • ~1/2 day on choosing and narrowing a topic.
  • ~2 days on how to make a good Power Point.
  • ~1 day on research and note-taking skills.
  • ~1-1/2 day on creating suitable discussion questions and vocabulary building skills.
  • ~1 day on writing an expository essay on your topic.

* We will finish learning about how to lead a discussion on Friday. The first student-led discussion will begin on the following Wednesday. Choose your topic early because you may be the first person to lead a discussion. The order of the discussions will be determined at random by picking numbers out of a hat.

Who to work with?
For this project you may work alone or with a partner. The choice is yours to make. However, let me caution you that if you work with a partner both partners will get the same grade. This means that if one partner seems to be unprepared I will take points away from both people. So, unless you choose a really reliable partner you may end up doing all the work yourself or getting a bad grade. Therefore, you might want to work alone.

Why we're doing this?
Leading a discussion is something that you will probably be required to do in most U.S. undergraduate and graduate programs. Good discussion-leading skills are extremely valuable at the university and within the work place. Furthermore, this project will require you to learn how to present and discuss a topic in a coherent, interesting way while improving your speaking ability and that of your classmates.

Note to each of you:
It is in your best interest to actively participate in discussions led by your classmates. Help support the discussion leader because very soon you will be that leader. Furthermore, I will take off points from anyone who is absent during the presentations. I know you are all good students so I probably don't need to mention this any further.

While working on this project you may want to refer to the following websites in order to do your research:

If you want to see some samples of discussion presentations, then click on one of the links below...

Good Luck