Leading class discussion

Once during the semester, you will be the “class facilitator” for the day. You will sign up on a Google doc that will be shared on the first day (first come, first serve; look at the list of movies based on your interests, look at your calendar, and choose wisely!).

You responsibilities will be to introduce the day’s main topics with a 5-10 minute introduction and then lead the class discussion with open-ended debate questions. Try to initiate respectful engaging conversations. See this as a way for you to practice teaching. You can create a Powerpoint and/or bring along additional multimedia material you want to show the class. If you bring examples from other movie clips or YouTube videos, email them to me ahead of time (at the latest the day before).

For that whole session, expect to remain the “center of gravity” guiding us through the day (it’s not simply a 5-10 min presentation + questions!). Regardless of your future job goals, public speaking is very important. Playing “teacher” may seem daunting, but don’t panic!—You can stay seated and see yourself as a class “TA” for the day. You are not expected to be an expert on the day’s topic. It’s not about the answers, it’s about the better questions (instead of yes/no questions, try to engage the class and learn from each other!).

  • If you’re facilitating on Tuesday, the class will be mostly introductory. Clarify who the filmmaker is, who the actors are, what perspectives/points of view they have, techniques used, style, personal backgrounds, intentions, etc. Tuesday is more of a Film Studies day. 
  • If you’re facilitating on Thursday, the class will be more analytical and open-ended. We’ll cover the cultural and social implications. Feel free to bring in knowledge and experience you may have with other contexts/countries. This is more of a Cultural Studies day.

Whether you are presenting on Tuesday or Thursday, you are expected to have seen both the primary and secondary film of that week, and to have read the additional reading. Usually we will discuss the secondary film more on Thursdays, but feel free to mention it on Tuesday. Whether on Tuesday or Thursday, feel free to bring in points from the reading to see how the film and the essay/interview respond to each other. Not everyone in the class will have seen the secondary film, so walk us through it and draw some parallels with the primary film. You can email the other student presenting the same week as you to make sure there is no overlap between your talking points.

For that week, you won’t need to do a blog post at all.

You will be evaluated on your personal analysis and contextualization of the film(s) (10 pts) and on your ability to moderate a healthy and constructive class discussion (10 pts) for a total of 20 pts. I wouldn’t blame it on you if the class is more silent than usual that day. What I am grading is rather your capacity to integrate your own reading of the film to a larger class that you orchestrate. No matter what, I will still be there to help you guide the discussion and take over if you’ve exhausted your conversation topics.


Published by Valentin Duquet

PhD student, French Studies; University of Texas at Austin.