As chairs, students play a major role in facilitating each session. The chair’s most practical function is to introduce the session topic, the presenters, and the titles of their individual papers. A few words about each presenter—his or her year or class rank, university affiliation, academic interests, etc.—can make each session friendlier and more relaxed. While the faculty moderator will be assigned in advance for the session, a quick-witted chair might also need to locate a faculty member willing to serve for an absent moderator. Student chairs promote the congenial atmosphere necessary for collaboration and discussion. They model the best kind of session participation, often even asking questions during the moderator-led Q & A and demonstrating their careful attention to the subjects of the papers.
Well before your presentation, check the location for your session. Changes to the schedule will be posted on the bulletin board near the registration table.
- Arrive at your session five minutes prior to the beginning of the session.
- Before formally starting the session, introduce yourself to the presenters and check to see if all of them have arrived; check the pronunciation of each presenter’s name and ask each to correct any mistakes (incomplete university name, etc.) before you begin.
- Remind presenters that they have 8-15 minutes and that the moderator will keep track of the time.
- Begin the session on time. Timing is tight, so assist the moderator in keeping track of the time.
- Ask the audience to hold all questions until all presenters have finished.
- Ask everyone to turn off cell phones or other electronic devices.
- Sit in the front row. Immediately before each presenter begins reading, stand up and off to one side as you introduce that presenter by name, college/university or alumni affiliation, and title of the work being presented. Follow the order of presenters as listed in the program.
- Jot down thoughtful comments and questions as the presenters read, and be willing to participate in the discussion of the works with the moderator, presenters, and audience, but yield the floor to session attendees.
- If attendees or presenters need special seating or lighting, moderators and chairs should make every attempt within their abilities to accommodate such needs.
- If a faculty moderator does not arrive, be ready to ask a faculty member in the audience to moderate, or be ready to take on the additional duties of the moderator. When you get a break, please inform the staff at the registration desk about the missing moderator.
A Reminder to All Attendees
If you must leave a session before its conclusion, do not enter or exit a room while a presenter is at the podium; wait until the applause between presenters for your cue to leave or enter.
Strategies for Constructing Discussion Questions
- Listen for questions that the presenter’s work poses.
- Listen for key concepts and key words and use them in questions.
- Listen for the larger issues the work addresses and ask about the connection.
- Draw connections among and between presenters’ works.
- Draw on your own experience and knowledge related to the presentation subject matter.
- Ask what or who inspired or motivated the presenter to write that work or to write about that subject matter (Class? Teacher? Dream? Event?).
- Ask what authors influence the presenter’s writing.
- Ask what works of literature influence the presenter’s writing.
- Ask presenter to explain his or her use of ___________in the work (symbolism, point of view, metaphor, dialogue, etc.).
- Ask what prompted the presenter to take that approach or to look at the subject matter in that way.
- Ask the presenter to describe her or his writing process.