I start the class by providing each student with the Anticipation-Guide handout that asks them to respond to a variety of statements. This anticipation guide allows the students to establish their current position on certain issues that will be addressed in the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Students are expected to write 1-2 sentences responding to each question. I reassure them that there is no technically correct answer to any of the questions. I also remind them that they should ensure that each response accurately reflects their beliefs and values, and also to be prepared to support the position or opinion they establish.
Once the timer has gone off and the students have had a reasonable amount of time to process and respond to each of the questions, I find it very valuable to engage them in a spirited discussion.
I pose each question and ask for volunteers to share what they said in their responses. Once I have a response, I always look for someone with a divergent opinion to share first. I then ask the class, by a show of hands, to share which of the two sides they most identified with. There are some questions that can go in many ways, so it is a matter of discretion. I like to get through all of the questions in the time provided, so I most often ask the students who do not entirely align with one or the other opinion presented to align with the one that is most like theirs. I feel comfortable moving through these types of questions because I will be providing students with a writing assignment that will allow them to select the question they want to respond to in greater depth. Most often, students who had to align with an opinion that was not entirely indicative of how they felt, elect to write their response about that part of the discussion.
The discussion gets lively at times as the students find out they agree with people they never expected and disagree with those they are closest to (and everything in between, of course). Some teachers like to have a quieter or more subdued environment in their classrooms. I, personally, want there to be a great deal of energy and excitement whenever possible, oftentimes leading to boisterous discussions like this one. It helps keep me excited about coming to class each day, and I hope it does that for my students as well.
Students will be given the remaining five minutes or so of the class period to begin work on their homework assignment for the evening. Each student is expected to write 2-3 paragraphs about one of the questions that was discussed in class. In their writing, students are to address how their opinion relates to those of their peers and what that means to them. Since I could not possibly address each of the questions and have each of my students (some classes have 36 or more) share their opinion each time, this is a great way for them to have heard the thing they most value or connect with.