Nested Conversations

This activity is intended for teachers to use after introducing a text, document, or presentation. The purpose of the activity is for students in small groups to explore the concept(s) introduced in the text, document, or presentation. There is a host at each of the three discussion tables who listens to the students and notes the big ideas that emerge from the conversation. The facilitator also takes part in the discussion. Following the discussions, the teacher guides a whole-class debriefing session. Developed by Raquel Munarriz Diaz adapted from the World Café and Wagon Wheel Protocols

Instructions

  1. The teacher divides students into three groups “nests” and assigns a table “host” for each table.

  2. Teacher assigns each table host one of the three questions.

  3. Each group participates in three rounds. There is one round per question. A round consists of:

    • The table host introduces the question.
    • The members in each group or "nest" discuss the question provided by the table host. The table host can participant in the discussion.
    • The table host facilitates the discussion and takes notes on the big ideas discussed by the group.
  4. At the end of the round, the group members remain together and rotate to the next table to discuss a new question. The table host remains at the table and begins a new conversations with the new group or "nest". 

  5. After all rounds have been completed, the teacher leads a discussion about the nested conversations. The table host and others report on what was discussed. 

    For individual accountability, students may be asked to summarize their thinking about each question by completing a timed writing on each question. 

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This is a synchronous activity. 

    The teacher divides students into groups or “nests” and assigns a breakout room “host” for each group. Each group is assigned to a breakout room. Each breakout room has a different discussion question. When the first round ends, students return to the whole group before being sent as a group to a second breakout room with a new discussion question. The breakroom host returns to the original room. 

    Each group participates in three rounds. There is one round per question. A round consists of:

    • The table host introduces the question to others in the breakout room.
    • The members in each group or "nest" discuss the question provided by the breakout room host. The host can participant in the discussion.
    • The breakout room host facilitates the discussion and takes notes on the big ideas discussed by the group. This can be done using a shared ('anyone with link can edit') Google Slide deck. This way, the teacher can monitor all groups' progress and address questions or issues throughout the activity. 

    After all rounds have been completed, the teacher leads a discussion about the nested conversations. The table host and others report on what was discussed. 

    For individual accountability, students may be asked to summarize their thinking about each question by completing a timed writing on each question. 

     

     

     

     

     

Helpful Tips

  1. For maximum student engagement, the teacher should consider pausing the discussion every 10 minutes to give students time to reflect and/or time to consider additional input. Students might reflect by jotting notes in a graphic organizer, writing questions of interest, etc. Additional input could be provided by giving access to an image, a news headline, a quote from a text, or by giving students time to consult texts/resources they have previously encountered.

  2. Thoroughly model the structure of the activity to ensure that it unfolds smoothly.

  3. Ensure that students have sufficient practice with the vocabulary associated with the topic/theme of the text before they participate in the nested conversations.

Differentiation

  1. The text, document, or presentation can be at different proficiency levels depending on the students. The teacher can also generate possible questions about the text with the class prior to the nested conversations.

Materials

  1. Authentic text, document, or presentation

  2. Three open-ended questions pertaining to the text, document, or presentation