Just a quick, post-teaching entry here - we had our breakthrough in terms of discussion, near the end. It came about through a happy accident. I did my pre-teaching prep up in the library, instead of my office, so my computer's batteries had died when I arrived at class. I teach my section in a large room full of chair-desks, and I like to have the students re-arrange them into a circle for class. However, my cord today wasn't long enough for me to have my laptop in the circle. So, for the extended discussion portion (on the writing assignment), I was forced to be physically outside the circle. This was a great way to force them to negotiate the "who's talking" bit among themselves while I threw myself into the class Google Doc, trying to say as little as possible. Finally, by the end, they were not only taking turns speaking among themselves, but actually responding and having discussions without my involvement. It was great, and exactly what I've been hoping for.
In less great news, we didn't have time to get to the third section (the conversation about liveness and recording), which is disappointing not only because I wanted to have a class discussion that wasn't so focused on facts and observations, but also because I'm now seeing a few people who are participating less. Through people adding the class and switching sections, my 4pm section has swollen to 17 members, which is pushing the boundaries of a roundtable-type discussion (I know there are other ways, and it looks like I may have to use them more often). Hopefully the things I have planned for next week will jog these other students into more participation, and build on the momentum of the more positive things that happened.
We'll see how tomorrow morning goes, with the other group of students.