Module Page

1: Discussion Starter

This week you’re working with your discussion group!

To give you all time to work with your discussion groups, I have cleared this week’s schedule to give you time to read, meet, and record your discussion starter.

This week we will

  • Learn some basics about data and spreadsheets
  • Work with our discussion groups

Module Outline


You have two sets of tasks this week. For your discussion starter you should:

  1. Read all the materials in your team’s assigned module
  2. Coordinate a time to meet via Zoom or other means to record a discussion with your team
  3. Record your team’s discussion (details below)
  4. One person should share (via email or a shareable link) the recording with me by 11:59PM Saturday February 6 this week so that I can post all the discussion starters for upcoming weeks

To get us started learning some data basics, you should:

  1. Do the Working with Data assignment

Wednesday agenda

At Wednesday’s optional meeting, we’ll troubleshoot the Working with Data assignment and any issues or questions with the Discussion Starter video/audio assignment.


There is no assigned reading this week. Consult the discussion roster for your assigned week and read/watch/listen to all of the material for your assigned week.

Watch: What is Data

Lesson: Data Filtering

Your first step in working with new data is getting to know it.

Assignment: Working with Data

In this assignment we’ll start learning how to read and work with data. For this assignment you’ll need to be logged into a Google account and be prepared to suffer through some 8th grade algebra.

Open this spreadsheet of Sir William Johnson’s expenses during the Seven Years’ War. Start with the first sheet, “1: Basic Functions.” Then watch the video below to walk through the assignment. The slides here are the same as the slides shown in the video for your reference (the links are clickable and the text is selectable)

When you’re done with this assignment, share the link to your own spreadsheet in the comments below! Remember to use the skills from our HTML assignment to make <a href=””>a pretty link!</a>

Discussion Starters

For your discussion starter, I will group you into a small team (2-3 people depending on our enrollment) to frame a group of readings for the larger class’s discussion. Discussion starters should frame the readings and prompt classmates to think critically or differently about what they read. Do not summarize! Assume that your audience has read and understood all the assigned material.

Format: I want your small group discussion to actually feel like a discussion – not just a series of reports or static forum posts. Therefore, I’m asking discussion starters to record themselves having a brief conversation about the reading. Conversations should be between 17-20 minutes and each group member should contribute. Please make sure to have each group member introduce themselves by name at the beginning, since we haven’t all met in person (first names only or course blog username only is ok if you prefer to not have your name in a public video). Work out with all group members ahead of recording if you will be posting publicly toYoutube or privately to Blackboard and who is responsible for uploading the video.

To guide your discussion, I want you to use the TQE method: thoughts, questions, epiphanies.

Using this method, group members should first share with each other some of their overall thoughts and reactions to the reading and what it is trying to do. Wherever possible, please refer to direct evidence in the texts in the form of quotes, arguments, or examples.

From there, students should share any questions they have – for example, what didn’t you understand? What do you want to know more about? What would you like your classmates to discuss? You may have other kinds of questions and that’s great, just make sure they are questions that open up, rather than shut down discussion.

Finally, conversations should close with each group member sharing an epiphany that they had while reading/watching. An epiphany is a sudden revelation, a lightning bolt of insight where something you hadn’t understood suddenly becomes clear – or where something you once assumed or believed suddenly shifts. Epiphanies can be mind-blowing moments or quieter realizations, but they should nonetheless demonstrate how your thinking or understanding has grown.

Submission: Recordings may be in video or audio format and will be shared with the entire class. You can record video or audio on Zoom or on another platform of your choosing as long as you coordinate with all group members. You do not need to show your face on video but you will need to record audio unless you make other arrangements with me for accommodation purposes.

You are also welcome to play with other tools or formats as needed, as long as there is a discussion-like tone — we want to avoid having individual TQEs just spliced together. You are also welcome to be creative with it (think TikTok or YouTube vlog-style editing), but it’s not required. I strongly recommend at least some light editing to trim out awkward dead space at the start of the conversation or between sections.

Submissions will be sent to me (Prof. Kane) by midnight on Saturday February 6. If all members of the group are comfortable with the video being posted publicly, you can post to YouTube as an “unlisted” video, which will not show up in search results. You can then share the link with me and I’ll embed it on the blog and on Slack. If anyone in the group prefers for the video to be private, you can submit it on Blackboard via the “Video Submissions” assignment link, or share a Dropbox link with me and I will post it to Blackboard. Please let me know by email where to expect your video or audio submission. I will review and post the video for the rest of the class in the relevant module.

Adapted from an assignment by Anna Lauren Hoffman.

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