Topic is stated, then a number of thought provoking questions are given to generate students' thoughts, get their ideas flowing. I use these weekly during the novel, passed out Mondays for a Wednesday Lit Circle discussion. Points for written response and points for sharing orally. The assignment states to have a verbal and written response prepared. "Participation points are given for providing a verbal response AND turning in your written notes."
These are Literature Circle discussions questions, themes all go along with the novel of course. The first one is fairly brief, they get longer and more intricate as they move toward the later questions.