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Socratic Seminars in the SS Classroom

PWCS SS Secondary Day Presentation 2015

Ellaine Cabellon

on 26 August 2015

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Transcript of Socratic Seminars in the SS Classroom

Using Socratic Seminar to help your World History students think critically, and articulate historical knowledge
Teachers will learn how to design, implement and assess a successful Socratic Seminar in their classroom
Sample Socratic Seminar
The Prince
How do I conduct a Socratic Seminar in my classroom?
1. Pick an interesting topic to discuss

2. Provide background information

3. Set clear expectations and guidelines
Ellaine Reyes - cabellet @pwcs.edu
Allison Holzgang - holzgaax@pwcs.edu

Osbourn Park High School
The Socratic seminar is a formal discussion,
based on a text
, in which the leader asks
open-ended questions
. (89)

Israel, Elfie. “Examining Multiple Perspectives in Literature.” In Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions n the English Classroom. James Holden and John S. Schmit, eds. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2002.
Within the context of the discussion, students
closely to the comments of others,
thinking critically
for themselves, and
their own thoughts and their
to the thoughts of others. They learn to
work cooperatively and to question intelligently and civilly
. (89)

Israel, Elfie. “Examining Multiple Perspectives in Literature.” In Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions n the English Classroom. James Holden and John S. Schmit, eds. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2002.
Socratic Seminars are
student led
and directed (with the help of your guiding questions). Students are responsible to keep the conversation while the teacher
to their thoughts and opinions.
Choosing a topic
Your topic should be able to promote
students to be able to participate in class discussion.
Some example topics:
Why did Rome Fall?
Three Monotheistic Religions: Can they co-exist?
Should the US have entered the World War I sooner, or not at all?
Should the US government use drones within our own borders ?
What do I give to students before the Seminar in order to facilitate dialogue?
Video Clips
You may give students any of the following:
Be sure that all students have access to the same materials
Radio Address
Class Notes
How can I get the best possible grade during the seminar?

1. TALK! No participation immediately earns you a ZERO for the discussion portion of your grade.
a. I want to hear what you have to say!
b. Do your research and form an opinion so that you can participate in a manner that is
beneficial to your classmates!
c. I expect you to speak between 2 and 3 times. Points will be determined by the relevance
of your comment.
2. Come up with questions to ask your classmates to generate discussion and or challenge them– the really great questions could earn you some BONUS points.
3. If you don’t understand something – ask for clarification!
4. This is NOT a debate – but merely a discussion for you to demonstrate your understanding of events and their significance.
5. Do not allow one person to dominate the discussion! If you are dominating the conversation, it may hurt you in the long run and if you are allowing a classmate to dominate the conversation, it’s not helping YOUR grade!
6. I will NOT be participating in your discussion… so each of you can determine how good or bad a conversation is!

How will my grade be determined?
Participation in the “inner circle” (50%)
Offers 2-3 comments
Uses prior knowledge and/or unit information to help support the discussion.
Is attentive to the discussion (ie, not falling asleep, staring off into space, having side conversations)
Helps to keep discussion on track (extra)
Asks for clarifications when unsure of a classmates comments (extra)
Asks thought provoking questions that help carry the discussion (extra)

Participation in the “outer circle” (50%)
Is attentive to their partner in the inner circle
Keeps good notes of their partner – questions they ask, comments they make, etc.
Is attentive to the discussion (ie, not falling asleep, staring off into space, having side conversations)
What is the difference between a dialogue and debate?
• Debate is oppositional: two opposing sides try to prove each other wrong.
Debate defends assumptions as truth.
In debate, one submits one’s best thinking and defends it against challenge to show that it is right.
• Dialogue is characterized by:
Suspending judgment
Examining our own work without defensiveness
Exposing our reasoning and looking for limits to it
Communicating our underlying assumptions
Exploring viewpoints more broadly and deeply
Being open to disconfirming data
Approaching someone who sees a problem differently not as an adversary, but as a colleague in common pursuit of better solutions.

Pointers to follow during the Socratic Seminar
• Use “I” messages.
• Wait until others have spoken before you speak again.
• Speak to each other, not the facilitator who is busy taking notes.
• Invite others to speak.
• Summarize every 7-10 minutes.
• Ask each other questions and follow up questions.
• Respect each other.
Be open to changing your mind.
Build on each other's ideas.
• Use the text to prove your point.
Make connections with other material or with your own life.
• Listen to each other.
• Remember that there might be lulls in discussion. This is okay until someone comes up with another idea.
• Come back to the main question.
• You may pass if called on to speak, except during the seminar critique.
• There is no ONE right answer.

Web tool to use during your seminar
iPad apps are your best friend!
Todays Meet
is a microblogging backchannel that empowers computer classroom teachers to generate a discussion, without the interference of raised hands or student disruption.
Why use the iPad during Socratic Seminars?
Helps facilitate a "backchannel" discussion and allows for your quieter students to be heard
Takes the guessing out of whether or not students are listening to the conversation based on their observation sheets.
Student reaction
"Using Todays Meet during Socratic Seminars was great and allowed me to discuss freely with classmates in the outer circle"
"I liked being able to still participate in a discussion even though I could not talk."
"I loved it, kept me more interested than just grading a classmate in the inner circle."
What was beneficial?
What was challenging?
What worked well?
What do you think will be a challenge for you and your students in the classroom when you implement this?
Take what you learned!
Want this Prezi?
Want the documents we provided?
Thank you for coming!
Join the backchannel!
Outercircle #1
Outercircle #2
Read the excerpt on your own
Answer the questions on your paper
Be prepared to discuss them in your circle
Full transcript