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Comments on February 6 discussion

Page history last edited by Steven Marx 12 years, 4 months ago

Conclusions (February 14)


·      Norm will call on speakers, making an effort to allow everyone to be heard, and tracking the order of hands raised to speak.  The rest of us will not speak unless he calls upon us.

·      The presenter gets 20 minutes to say their piece on the book before group discussion begins.  Providing some background about the author, a quick summary, pointing out strengths and weaknesses, drawing our attention to specific passages, and relating the book to previous readings are possible approaches.

·      The presenter may want to post material on our wiki before the meeting, including a choice of topics for discussion, excerpts from reviews, or notes on the book.

·      Participants may want to post such material as well.

·      The last fifteen minutes of the meeting will be dedicated specifically to ideas about how this book or our discussion could be incorporated into our classes.

After the session we can reevaluate our process and decide whether or not to keep these changes and/or make further ones.




1. Some people didnt have a chance to speak or werent recognized.  We need a procedure to avoid this happening.  One person could volunteer to be in charge of tracking requests to speak and to make sure opportunities were fairly distributed.  Does anyone want to volunteer to do this for next time?

The discussion was free ranging but somewhat sprawling.  Here are a couple of possibilities for trying to provide clearer structure and focus.  Please let me know if that's what you'd like and if so, what you think of these procedures.

Give the presenter a specified length of time to speak before entertaining questions and discussion--say 30 minutes.

Continue having a devil's advocate to present critiques of the book--say up to ten minutes.

As note taker, I'd have liked the discussion to proceed by topic.  As a partipant, I liked the opportunity for people to speak about whatever in the book interested them whenever they felt so inclined.  Do you think the presenter should try to keep the discussion focussed on one issue for a certain time before allowing a new one to be discussed?


2. thank you for organizing and moderating the SBC.  I enjoyed the session on Friday but felt that the discussion moved away from the book on several occasions.  Your suggestions to keep us a little more focused are appreciated.  I think the presenter probably only needs 15mins to introduce the topic (this will encourage them to be concise).


3. I thought the meeting went well. However, I think it went well because the book was fairly tight in what it covered.  A book with a greater breadth of topics could not be handled with the format of the meeting.  I think the speaker might need to be given a bit more control over the discussion i.e., be allowed to cover his/her material before opening it up but that is tough given people want to talk about the topic at hand.

When it is my turn I was thinking of doing some talking but then have a few questions that I want the group to focus on.

Yes, I did notice some hands up without being called on. I also noticed some people talking without their hands up (not allowed in my classroom). Your idea would work but could take away from ones ability to concentrate on the meeting if you were having to look for hands.  Too bad we can't get a jeopardy buzzer system.


4. I think it went well.  We will need a lot more time to do anything fancier at the meeting.  One idea might be to get going an e-mail "warm-up" discussion during the week before the meeting.


5. I enjoyed last Friday's session - both lively and thought-provoking.  Regarding your suggestions about format, here are a few of my thoughts:

- I'm not sure that we need 30 minutes for the facilitator to provide a synopsis of the book; posting notes on the wiki should be sufficient

- I see the facilitator's role as actually to facilitate discussion, i.e. make sure everyone is heard, solicit varied opinions, continue moving discussion forward; rather than to defend the book or the author's point of view

- Perhaps beforehand, we could ask members to contribute talking points about the book e.g. general commentary, critiques, questions, a-ha moments; the facilitator could then draft a flexible agenda based on people's input

- At the end of each session, it would be excellent to dedicate 15 minutes specifically to implications at CalPoly and ideas for pedagogy/instruction


6. Having not been there, I wonder if it might be critical to make sure that every session remains focused on sustainability (whatever that is). For instance, it is obvious that growth is necessary for sustainability. If little plants don't grow into bigger plants, things that eat those plants can not be sustained. Without continuing growth of soil microbes, we can't hope to move carbon back where it belongs. If we can reach a consensus as to what sustainability is.....then we can use that as "sideboards" in our discussions of these wonderful books.


7. From what I understand defining sustainability and figuring out what to teach and how to best teach it is the goal of this forum.  Keeping this in mind, perhaps everyone could be given a turn for a couple of minutes  initially to say what they feel is the most important lesson or not from the book followed by a suggestion on how we can or not incorporate it in sustainable pedagogy.  This will help us define by the end of the year just what and how we wish to teach.  Furthermore, some amount of free discussion without show of hands should be allowed if this forum is to achieve fruitful results.  In light of this, I feel suggestion no.5 makes sense and no. 6 has a valid point about defining sustainability both of which I reinforce.

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