Structured Discussions Mechanics for SL Students

5 01 2011

To practice for the IOP, you will be tasked to facilitate a literary structured discussion which you may choose as the format of your oral requirement this semester. We will be using selected chapters of Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” as the main material.

Each session, there will be an assigned chunk of chapters. The division of the novel is as follows:

Session 1-2: Author’s Notes up to Chapter 15 (Introduction to Pi Patel, Animals)

Session 3-4: Chapters 16-28 (Religions)

Session 5: Chapters 29-42 (The Incident)

Session 6: Chapters 43-62 (Richard Parker)

Session 7-8: Chapters 63-93 (Surviving)

Session 9-10: Chapters 94-100 (The Interview)

Session 11-12: Synthesizing the entire novel

Each session you are required to prepare 5 questions as there will be drawing of lots to determine the facilitators for the session. You are required to be prepared, otherwise, you will be sanctioned accordingly.

You may choose from any of the following formats for the questions:

A. a question about a single character or characters

B. a question which focuses on theme, motif, symbolism, structure, style, and other elements of fiction

C. a question which focuses on lines from the novel

D. a question based on a personal observation, reflection or idea

E. a question which connects the novel to an external reading (preferably a text we read in class previously)

You may come up with at most two questions from any of the categories above.

Preparing the Questions:

The questions should be analysis questions, not simple-recall questions, because you will invite your classmates to discuss these. It might be helpful if you try to answer the questions yourself and see whether the questions are too easy to answer or too complex to bear meaningful discourses. You are also encouraged to anticipate the answers and strategically come up with follow-up questions.

Avoid the simple “wh” questions (such as Who is the brother of Pi? ) unless the question could generate arguable or debatable answers (e.g. What makes Pi an intriguing character? )

Prepare quotes as well to contextualize and support your questions and answers.

Facilitating the Structured Discussion:

I. Preparation and Introduction: (1 minute)

You are encouraged to make your presentation engaging by thinking of an engaging way to start your discussion. Here are some ideas that you might want to explore:

a. Read a striking line from the novel.

b. State a trivia related to a certain detail or the nature of the novel or the part of the novel which you are discussing

c. State a unique opinion on any aspect of the novel

d. Show an interesting photo or artwork.

e. Engage your classmates in a short game.

II. Asking of Questions (12 minutes)

Even though you’re facilitating questions, remember that YOU are the one being graded. Therefore, be careful to allot time in your presentation to answer your own questions or share your personal opinions.

When throwing questions, ask your classmates respectfully and allow them considerable amount of time to answer. Call your classmates by their names and keep a positive energy so that the discussion would be engaging. The success of the discussion lies on your facilitating skills.

You are required to ask at least 3 questions, depending on the time your classmates discuss the questions. Do NOT repeat questions which have been discussed already by previous facilitators.

III. Wrapping Up (2 minutes)

Conclude the discussion by citing your own personal observation or learning based on the discussion and your previous reading. Don’t forget to thank your classmates for participating in the discussion.

You have only 15 minutes to facilitate the structured discussion.

Final Reminders:

Practice and come prepared so that you won’t be nervous.  You might be called upon to facilitate TWICE or THRICE until the end of the sessions.




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