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Socratic Seminar

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Deborah Pippin

on 14 August 2013

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Transcript of Socratic Seminar

Socratic Seminar
Based on Socrates teaching method of asking questions to explore a text
Dialogue--NOT debate or interactive lecture (class discussion)
Exchanging and considering ideas rather than winning an argument or finding an answer
Students read an assigned selection (something that will give opportunity for deep thinking and open-ended questions)
Students should annotate the reading assignment (highlight and jot down notes that might help in the seminar)
Each student should develop questions: world connection, open-ended (how/why), universal theme, etc.
Questions should encourage exploring an idea not finding an answer

Conducting Seminar
Teacher acts as facilitator: ask opening question, keep discussion moving
Inner Circle of approximately 10-15 students who are actually involved in discussion
Outer circle of observers/note-takers
Post Seminar
Seminar Evaluation- Students evaluate the pros and cons of the day's seminar.
Personal Response/Explication- Students write essays reflecting on ideas and explaining their beliefs and understanding of others' beliefs from seminar discussion
My Sample Seminar
Facilitator asks opening question
Suggestion: Give students time to free-write ideas
Students in inner circle...
begin responding to opening question as well as ask questions for deeper exploration/insight
Bring up their prepared questions
Students in outer circle take notes and/or complete specified tasks (jot down notes for their opportunity)
Switch circles to give other students discussion time.
Inner/Outer Circle
Inner Circle
Actually involved in discussion
Use notes and text to participate
Ask additional questions
Outer Circle
Take notes for their turn
Observer/Coach partner (someone in inner circle)
Hot Seat: Empty seat in inner circle for someone from outer circle to make one comment
Here is my view and how I arrived at it. How does it sound to you?
Do you see gaps in my reasoning?
Do you have different data?
Do you have different conclusions?
How did you arrive at your view?
Are you taking into account something different from what I have considered?

Opening Question
How do the complex opinions and emotions surrounding racial assimilation presented in the play relate to today’s world?
PLAY: A Raisin in the Sun by Loraine Hansberry
Deals with a black family's struggle in Chicago during the late 1950s.
Assimilation is addressed through the characters' attitudes toward conforming to white America.
Articles Dealing with Assimilation in Modern-Day America
"To Assimilate or Not" (July 2013)
"Should Blacks Assimilate with White Culture" (December 2010)
Full transcript