The Final Word - The Things That Keep Us Up At Night

Purpose: The purpose of this discussion format is to give each person in the group an opportunity to have their ideas, understandings, and perspective enhanced by hearing from others. With this format, the group can explore an article, clarify their thinking, and have their assumptions and beliefs questioned in order to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. This version of The Final Word was adapted from the original by Jennifer Fischer-Mueller and Gene Thompson-Grove for NSRF–June, 2002.
Roles: Facilitator / timekeeper (who also participates); participants

  1. Sit it in a circle and identify a facilitator/time-keeper. The role of the facilitator is to keep the process moving, keep it clear and directed to the article, and keep time so everyone gets an opportunity for a round.
  2. Read the article, Things That Keep Us Up at Night. As you read, identify two to three significant ideas from the text.
  3. The person to the left of the facilitator begins first by sharing one thought or quote.
    • In less than 3 minutes, this person explains why that quote was so significant. For example, why does s/he agree/disagree with the quote, what questions does s/he have about that quote, what issues does it raise for him or her, what does s/he now wonder about in relation to that quote?
    • Continuing around the circle each person responds to that quote and what the presenter said, briefly, in less than a minute. The purpose of the response is:
      • to expand on the presenter’s thinking about the quote and the issues raised for him or her by the quote,
      • to provide a different look at the quote,
      • to clarify the presenter’s thinking about the quote, and/or
      • to question the presenter’s assumptions about the quote and the issues raised (although at this time there is no response from the presenter).
    • After going around the circle with each person having responded for less than one minute, the person that began has the “final word.” In no more than one minute the presenter responds to what has been said. Now what is s/he thinking? What is his or her reaction to what s/he has heard?
4. The next person in the circle then begins by sharing what struck him or her most from the text. Proceed around the circle, responding
to this next presenter’s quote in the same way as the first presenter’s. This process continues until each person has had a round with
his or her quote.