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The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking

ISBN: 978-1-119-05096-4
288 pages
December 2015, Jossey-Bass
The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking (1119050960) cover image


Build teams, make better decisions, energize groups, and think out of the box

Do you need a resource that you can pull out of your pocket to liven up meetings, trainings, professional development, and teaching? The fifty easily applied techniques in this timely manual spur creativity, stimulate energy, keep groups focused, and increase participation. Whether you're teaching classes, facilitating employee training, leading organizational or community meetings, furthering staff and professional development, guiding town halls, or working with congregations, The Discussion Book is your go-to guide for improving any group process.

Each of the concrete techniques and exercises is clearly described with guidance on selection and implementation, as well as advice on which pitfalls to avoid. All of the techniques:

  • Offer new ways to engage people and energize groups
  • Get employees, students, colleagues, constituents, and community members to participate more fully in deliberative decision-making
  • Encourage creativity and openness to new perspectives
  • Increase collaboration and build cohesive teams
  • Keep groups focused on important topics and hard-to-address issues

Derived from the authors' decades of experience using these exercises with schools, colleges, corporations, the military, social movements, health care organizations, prisons, unions, non-profits, and elsewhere, The Discussion Book will help you guide discussions that matter.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

User Guide xiii

Acknowledgments xix

The Authors xxi

Introduction 1

1 Circle of Voices 9

2 Chalk Talk 13

3 Circular Response 19

4 Newsprint Dialogue 25

5 Today’sMeet 31

6 Giving Appreciation: The Appreciative Pause–Sticky Note Plaudit 37

7 Rotating Stations 43

8 Snowballing 49

9 Conversational Moves 53

10 Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ) 59

11 Strategic Questioning 65

12 Open-ended Questions 71

13 Nominating Questions 77

14 If You Could Only Ask One Question 81

15 On-the-Spot Questions and Topics 87

16 What Do You Think? 93

17 Clearness Committee 97

18 Team Modeling 103

19 Question Brainstorm 107

20 Narrative Listening and Questioning 111

21 Participation Rubric 115

22 Critical Conversation Protocol 121

23 What Are You Hearing? 127

24 Understanding Check 131

25 StandWhere You Stand 135

26 Think-Pair-Share 139

27 Drawing Discussion 143

28 Musicalizing Discussion 149

29 Structured Silence 153

30 Writing Discussion 157

31 QuickWrites 161

32 Cocktail Party 165

33 Bohmian Dialogue 169

34 Methodological Belief 173

35 Justifiable Pressure 177

36 Hatful of Quotes 181

37 Quotes to Affirm and Challenge 185

38 Jigsaw 189

39 Titling the Text 193

40 Critical Debate 197

41 SingleWord Sum-Ups 201

42 Setting Ground Rules 205

43 Canvassing for Common Ground 209

44 Dramatizing Discussion 215

45 Deliberative Polling 219

46 Participatory Decision Making 223

47 Mutual Invitation 229

48 The Three-Person Rule 233

49 Conversational Roles 237

50 Facilitator Summary 243

Bibliography 247

Index 249

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Author Information

STEPHEN D. BROOKFIELD is the John Ireland Endowed Chair at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of numerous books including The Skillful Teacher, Teaching for Critical Thinking, and Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults, from Jossey-Bass.

STEPHEN PRESKILL is professor emeritus at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. He is the author, with Stephen Brookfield, of Discussion as a Way of Teaching and Learning as a Way of Leading, both from Jossey-Bass.

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"The Discussion Book" offers new ways to engage people and energize groups; will get employees, students, colleagues, constituents, and community members to participate more fully in deliberative decision-making; encourage creativity and openness to new perspectives; increase collaboration and build cohesive teams; and keep groups focused on important topics and hard-to-address issues." (Reviewer's Bookwatch, May 2016)
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