Writing good discussion questions: Paraphrased from “How to Lead a Book Club Discussion”


Step 1:  Read the book.  This might seem obvious, but it’s important!  Give yourself enough time to finish BEFORE you start writing questions.

  As you read, jot down numbers of important pages that you’d like to come back to later.

Step 2:  Prepare 8-10 questions.  You can always narrow them down later. 


1.         Avoid questions with yes or no answers.  If your question does have a yes or no answer, ask a follow up question that expects a longer answer.

2.         Try not to put people on the spot with factual questions—remember that you want to lead a good discussion, not play Jeopardy.

3.         Look for a mix of questions that you know everyone will be able to answer (like, relate the readings to a personal experience) and some that require more thought and reflection on the readings.  Your goal is to establish a deep, satisfying discussion about the readings.

Step 3:  Pose the questions to the class.

1.         Let others answer first—avoid coming off as the teacher.  You want to promote discussion & make everyone feel that their opinions matter.

2.         Try to connect different comments.  Don’t be afraid to ask the questions out of order if a question connects to someone’s comment.

3.         Rein in tangents—don’t let the discussion get too far away from the questions.

4.         Occasionally direct a question to a quiet person.

5.         Don’t feel obligated to go through every question.

6.         Summarize the discussion at the end.



RTF, Chapter 2, p. 48-62: Billy, Mechala, Emily, Katie

RTF, Chapter 2, p.  62-75: Mariah, Jesse, Evan, Neil

Alan Lomax Documentary: The Land Where the Blues Began Jana, Tom, Patrick, Raymund

Dance for a Chicken: the Cajun Mardi Gras


Dry Wood (about Creoles, also with Mardi Gras footage)

ETD (Escaping the Delta)

                        Introduction: Dan

                        Chapter 1: What is Blues? Steven

                        Chapter 2: Race Records Jen, Marcela

                        Chapter 3: What the Records Missed Greg, Jeff

                        Chapter 4: Hollers, Moans, and “Deep Blues” Rich, Jen

                        Chapter 5: The Mississippi Delta: Life and Listening Mike, Mariah

                        Chapter 6: A Life Remembered Billy, Jana

                        Chapter 7: The Music Tom, Patrick