Bringing pupils together in conversation is an important goal in pedagogical work. One method we tried out in our project is that of the World Café. It goes back to the American management consultants Juanita Brown and David Isaacs.
Depending on the number of previously selected questions, tables are set up and equipped with a writable tablecloth or a large poster. A sufficient number of pens should be available.
Each table is occupied by a "host", who introduces the working method, explains the procedure and pays attention to the observance of the rules of conduct, so that an open and friendly atmosphere can develop. The hosts should announce themselves voluntarily for this task and remain at their respective table during the entire execution.
Each sheet of a table group is provided with a question - these differ from table group to table group. The questions should arouse interest and be open. A simple clear question is important and it should have an inviting character to get the discussion started.
Each new group is briefly introduced to the topic by the table hosts and receives a summary of the most important core ideas and findings from the previous round(s). The hosts also make sure that important thoughts and ideas are recorded on the posters in writing or in small sketches.
After a pre-set time, the groups change. In each case a new mixture should develop, which should not exceed approx. five to six persons per table. This group size enables a manageable communication structure.
A discussion round lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, then the groups are changed. The World Café ends with a short reflection phase.
In our opinion, the method has proved very effective in bringing our mixed national student group into conversation with each other. The students discussed with each other, noted down their insights and thoughts and prioritized them according to the host's instructions. The method involves little organisational effort, but requires well selected questions and a sufficient number of voluntary hosts. If necessary, the results can be presented to the plenum at the end of the round, for example if different solution variants were discussed at the tables, between which decisions are to be made at the end.