Thursday, July 15, 2010
So what's a popcorn session? Well, if you're at an academic conference, and you've had a full day of serious presentations and you've already had dinner, but you're not quite ready to stop talking about things going on in your field, a popcorn session lets the dialogue continue in a less formal setting. And yes, popcorn is served.
In the popcorn session I attended at the LWI conference, Claire Robinson May (Cleveland Marshall) lead a wide-ranging discussion of Academic Freedom and the Staffing Structure of Legal Writing Programs. Claire used an interesting technique to essentially plant various arguments and perceptions throughout the conversation. Each person in attendance was given a large laminated page of paper, on which a comment had already been typed out. These were color-coordinated, so as sub-topics arose, she could call on someone with a pink sheet, for example, to read their prepared comment. That comment then was sure to be in the mix and to encourage responses. This technique could work for any discussion or classroom exchange where it would be helpful to be sure certain perspectives or information is heard -- perhaps a topic on which the audience or students might be reluctant to speak openly or one on which the presenter or professor had specific points to drive home.