Social Contact / Social Distance: Conversations with a Direction

Begin with Questions: Learning through Discussion

The current health guidance to shelter in place reduces a prime source of well-being: the contact with friends. Often, we engage with friends while drinking coffee, cooking, or watching TV. Those background activities contribute to the conversation. Sadly, those quality contacts are no longer available.

Luckily, we have electronic means to maintain contact at a distance. However, Zoom, Facetime, and Skype are different from physical time together. The small screen focuses on faces. The richness of background activity and location details are not easily available to support the conversation.

We can enrich our electronic contacts by using a topic or a question. We can create a learning purpose and a support for the conversation.

We may wander from the topic as we would when face to face. We may return to the subject or stumble onto a new one, just as we would when face to face. The discussion is the goal, the topic lends a structure as needed.

Here are some ideas to help generate your own topics and questions for a planned conversation with friends and family. Some prework will provide more content and participant satisfaction. There are two reference websites listed for most topics, but your personal experience and research is the best data for the discussion.

What would you like to know? Write down two or more questions before the conversation starts.

House Plants: How do I choose and maintain Succulents and Bloomers? ’
The 14 Best Indoor Succulents to Grow at Home.
The 17 Best Flowering Houseplants | Balcony Garden Web.

Birding: How do I continue bird observations with social distancing? ’
Advice from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Wikipedia

Intergenerational school experience: What was grade school like for you? ’
Rural education in the 1950s
School in 1950 compared to today -personal experiences

First job experience for all participants: How did you get it?
Was it a good choice? What did your parents think?
What was your boss like? Why did you leave? Was that a good move?

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Shared reading experience: What have you read?’
Read - Think - Talk, from
Discussion questions from

The Revolutionary War: What event or document warrants further discussion?’
Example: What Happened at the Boston Massacre?
US link
Wikipedia entry for the Boston Massacre
The British perspective

What are your favorite home remedies?’
Home remedies everyone should know
Advice from
Home remedies already in your kitchen

Explore technology in your home; How does this work?’
Example:Furnaces, disposals, dishwashers, toilets, air conditioning
Compare and share photos and verbal descriptions
How does a furnace work?
How do toilets work?
Garbage disposals from the
Air conditioners

What makes a good movie worth watching?
Choose a movie available for streaming and watch it simultaneously.
After viewing, consider discussing the following questions:
How did the movie capture your attention at the beginning?
What scene was most surprising?
How did the direction and cinematography add to or confuse the story?
Was the ending satisfactory?

Please share your ideas, experiences, examples of participant questions, or anything else with FHL’s community of learners. Email us at
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Firsthand Learning, Inc. is committed to protecting the privacy of its colleagues and customers. FHL does not sell or rent email addresses to other organizations.

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