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Discovery, Inquiry, and Synthesis: The Road to Socratic Sem

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Jennifer McMillan

on 13 May 2015

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Transcript of Discovery, Inquiry, and Synthesis: The Road to Socratic Sem

reating a Student Centered Classroom Using Socratic Seminar
Lydia Loureiro and Jennifer McMillan
Dwight D. Eisenhower High School
Blue Island, IL

Community High School District 218
Dwight D. Eisenhower High School, Blue Island
Harold L. Richards High School, Oak Lawn
Alan B. Shepard High School, Palos Heights
Delta-Summit Alternative, Robbins

CHSD 218 is a south suburban Chicago High School District consisting of four high schools.
Each school serves students with diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds who enter high school with wide-ranging needs.
A major challenge for teachers is how to differentiate in order for students to gain the skills needed to succeed.
While each school is distinct, the district encourages collaboration amongst all faculty to identify best practices.

Socratic Seminar: Discovery, Inquiry, Synthesis
Socratic Seminar is an instructional strategy that fosters authentic teaching and learning while allowing students at all levels to take ownership and accountability for their education. Through Socratic Seminar, students develop higher order thinking skills by engaging in discovery, inquiry, and synthesis.

Socratic Seminar: Procedure
Socratic Seminar is typically an "inside-out" or "fishbowl" activity where a small group of students engage in discussion while the rest of the class sits around the inside group, following the discussion and evaluating a partner.

Should be given the topic ahead of time.
Should be given time to prepare.
Should self-select.
Should rotate through the inside circle at least once per semester.
On the outside are held accountable for the material through an essay based on the discussion topic which is completed in class the next day.
On the inside who fail to show mastery may write the essay as a "retake."
What do the students say about Socratic Seminar?
Why Socratic Seminar?
Socratic Seminar is an instructional strategy that fosters authentic teaching and learning by addressing the Common Core in a way that promotes a meaningful relationship between student and text.

Students must utilize multiple skills in order for successful performance:
Organization of materials and ideas
Close and active reading
Critical thinking and questioning
Synthesis of sources
Speaking and listening

Why Socratic Seminar?
"Students can, without significant scaffolding, comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines, and they can construct effective arguments and convey intricate or multifaceted information. Likewise, students are able independently to discern a speaker’s key points, request clarification, and ask relevant questions. They build on others’ ideas, articulate their own ideas, and confirm they have been understood. Without prompting, they demonstrate command of standard English and acquire and use a wide-ranging vocabulary. More broadly, they become self-directed learners, effectively seeking out and using resources to assist them, including teachers, peers, and print and digital reference materials."

Why Socratic Seminar?
"Students establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance. They become proficient in new areas through research and study. They read purposefully and listen attentively to gain both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise. They refine and share their knowledge through writing and speaking."


Examples from 9th and 10th grade...
Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3 Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Why Socratic Seminar?
District Report Card
District Report Card
56% of the student population are “economically disadvantaged.”
73% graduate within in four years.
Over 60% of the students are below reading standards as measured by the Illinois PSAE exam.

DDE at a Glance
DDE at a Glance
72% of our students are economically disadvantaged
72% of our students graduate within 4 years
81% of our students are either at academic warning or below standards for reading

How does Socratic Seminar address student needs?
Socratic Seminar...
increases student responsibility.
increases rigor.
creates a student centered classroom that teaches students how to study.
encourages and promotes student discussion about about the reading.
encourages and promotes active listening.
prepares students for a higher level of success in subsequent writing assignments.
recognizes the student as a resource.
promotes cross-curricular connections.

In order to participate in an authentic discussion, students must understand the text for themselves. Too many of our students limit their understanding to "recall" or default to what the teacher tells them about the text.

Discovery includes...
Close reading (encourage multiple readings of an individual text).
Annotations (in-text and post-it notes).
Note taking (APPARTS, Harvard Outline Notes, SOAPSTone, Dialectical Notebooks).
Organization of texts and ideas (categorization, graphic organizers)
Close reading encourages re-reading.

1. Read for information. Read for understanding.
2. Read with a defined purpose. Read knowing what the expectation is regarding discovery.
Examples of close reading with in-text annotations and post-it notes.
In order to participate in an authentic discussion, students must be able to ask questions based on how they interpret the text. Our students have become accustomed to passively answering questions that are given to them versus being required to think actively in a way that requires them to question for themselves.

Inquiry includes...
Blooms Taxonomy (writing questions)
Reciprocal Learning activities (vetting questions)
Methods of Inquiry
In order to participate in an authentic discussion, students must be able to synthesize information in meaningful ways. Our students are trained to view texts in isolation rather than making connections and applying prior knowledge. Synthesis requires critical thinking across multiple texts.

Synthesis includes...
Silent discussion (students move through stations, commenting on a topic or answering questions using written communication).
Online/blog discussion (practice discussion etiquette).
Socratic Seminar.

Silent Discussion
Set Up
Set up desks in a table/circle in the middle of the room.
Number the desks.
Write the numbers on the board and have the students "claim" a spot as they enter the room.
Students MUST be prepared with evidence of active reading/notes in order to claim a spot.

Protocol for seminar should be established early in the semester.
No one person dominates the discussion.
Acknowledge the comments of others and respond using pre-established transitions/discussion stems.
Socratic Seminar is not a debate. The goal is NOT to prove others wrong. The goal is to engage in civilized discourse in order to share and expand one's view on the subject.
The Leader
The leader...
Should self-select.
Introduces the prompt and sets the context for discussion.
Directs the conversation.
Monitors student involvement.
Manages the “hot seat.”

Students sitting in the inside circle...
have a set time to address the prompt, establish their direction, and work through the documents
must contribute to the discussion in order to demonstrate knowledge.
must adhere to the protocols.

*Students who fail to demonstrate knowledge of the text are requires to write the subsequent FRQ (Free Response Question).

The "Outside" Circle
Students observing the discussion...
Should be prepared to the same degree as those in the inside circle.
Should pay attention to the discussion while taking notes.
Should use the discussion as an opportunity to think through their own ideas on the topic.
Will evaluate the discussion skills of a partner on the inside.

The Teacher
During the discussion, the teacher...
Remains silent!
Monitors the time.
Evaluates the discussion based on the students' knowledge of the topic, use of direct and indirect evidence, and quality of discussion skills.

What's in the packet?

In the packet, you will find...
Sample topics/prompts.
Chart used for tracking the discussion/grading.
Sample of how the chart is used.
Discussion stems.
Student accountability form.
Student "Partner" Evaluation Form.

Online/Blog Discussion
Questions, Comments, or Additional Information?


Visit Jen's google+ for links and resources:
Sample Common Core Standards
Full transcript