This is not my own idea, though I have worked with a version of it. Instead I found this suggestion on the Chronicle’s fora.
I put the ball in the students’ court and have them come up with the discussion questions for the reading covered thus far. This way, I can see what themes/issues the students picked up on and what aspects of the reading interested them. I put them in groups, each member presents their discussion question, and the group chooses the one that they write and talk about. Then, each group shares a summary of their discussion. I make note of any themes/issues that the groups don’t address so that I may bring them up. Everyone turns in their discussion question as well as their written response to their group’s chosen question. Having the students compose a discussion question is also a way for me to make sure they’ve done the assigned reading without giving a formal reading quiz, which always takes up too much class time. It also gives them practice formulating questions to address in their essays and I even allow them to use either a classmate’s discussion question or their own as inspiration for their formal writing assignments.