Preparing to Write a Synthesis Essay Day 3: Continuing the Consultancy Protocol

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SWBAT use multiple sources in learning how to synthesize information for entering a discourse about a given topic by a presentation and discussion with peers.

Big Idea

Discussing complicated topics with peers can open up new avenues of discourse.


Continuing Consultancy Protocol

50 minutes

Students today will continue to work in their groups of 4 and follow the instructions outlined on the second page of the consultancy protocol instructions: Consultancy protocol instructions.pdf. One student will be the presenter, and there will also be a timekeeper in the group.  The presenter will take no more than five minutes to present their team with an overview of their topic, and frame one to three questions regarding the issue that they would like the group to address.

After the presentation, the other members of the team will ask clarifying questions of the presenter.

Once all questions have been asked, the presenter will remain silent as the group members discuss the issue (the presenter will move their chair slightly back so they can comfortably listen to the conversation) and questions of the presenter.  They will also have to make specific references to texts read in class as they discuss the topic.  This discussion will last no more than ten minutes.

At the end of the discussion, the presenter will "return" to the group, ask questions about what he or she heard, and summarize the discussion.  At this point, all members can talk as part of an open discussion.  This will last for about five minutes.

Once all the steps have been completed, a new presenter will take their turn in the process.

As groups engage in this, I will continue to circulate to listen to the discussions, though I will only intervene if the group is really off task--I am more listening to get a sense of what the issues are, and how rigorous the preparation and discussion is.   The discussions were very strong yesterday and the feedback was good, so I expect things to run smoothly, since they've already done the process twice.   After all the groups have finished, they will move on to the writing task (if some groups finish ahead of others, they can talk quietly while the others finish; having some write while others continue with the protocol will be awkward for everyone!).

Free-Write reflections

20 minutes

Even though they did some writing yesterday, I think it is important for them to debrief again to get into the habit of reflection, and also to let everyone have an equal turn in the process.  Students will free-write in their journals about the process itself, and also about their topic and new insights they may have.  This will give me another way to assess where they are with their topics, and also how well this protocol works (since I've never tried it before!).  Students who presented will write about their experience, as well as new ideas they have now that they've listened to their peers' discussion.  The students who weren't presenters will likely have some new ideas about their own topics based on the discussions (I will state this to them as part of the instructions), so they too are to write new ideas they might have regarding their essay topics.  Additionally, I will ask that all of the students reflect on the process--what they thought of the protocol, if it seemed helpful, and how they might improve it.  This could give me some good additional feedback for the future.  If there is time left at the end of class, I will ask students to share some of their responses to the process itself.