discussion overload

I’m teaching honors introduction for the first time ever. A great group of 23 students, a small class for this place. Most say it is the smallest class they have been in here!  They have a lot to say. Not just empty BS. A lot of worthwhile, thought out things to say. They all wanted to talk! This is great, I don’t want to kill it, but it’s going to be quite a ride to manage it. For one thing, they are pulling in different directions so it is hard to keep a common thread going, although they did do a good job of listening to each other and addressing issues the previous speaker had raised. They also raised hands and waited to be called on, but there’d be six to choose from at any given time. I do not want the evolutionary selection model in which the most aggressive dominate and the less aggressive get crowded out, but neither do I want to shut down all that enthusiasm. Do other people have strategies for coping?

The class is 2/3 male, by the way, a demographic shock in a university that is 55% female and a discipline that is overwhelmingly female.

In case you are wondering, as the course is titled “The Sociological Imagination,” I opened by describing my own background and experience and then invited each student to talk about his/hers. Idea being that we sould try to practice the intersection of biography and history in our own lives. This then led into a discussion of segregation patterns in schools. I took Jessica’s suggestion from some time ago to assign an old article by Karp about why students don’t participate, which also contributed to a good and serious discussion. So I promoted discussion by starting with topics relevant to their own lives. Then they kept going with Mills’s first chapter.

So, any, ideas for keeping the spark of interaction alive while riding herd on discussion and preventing too much verbal competition for the floor?