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Transcript of Socratic Seminar
Long Term Plan
Susanna Foote, Alyssa Klein, Bellinger Stoker, Alma Zepeda
Prof. Joanna Guldin Noll
Internship in Transformational Leadership and Teaching, II
March 23, 2014
A plan to implement Socratic Seminars in middle grades classrooms.
Planning for seminars
This presentation prepares teachers for their role and the role students take throughout the process of design and implementation in a Socratic seminar.
There are three primary phases to design when planning for Socratic seminars, including pre-seminar, during the seminar, and post-seminar. For each phase, strategies and procedures can be put in place to provoke higher-level thinking and cooperative discussion.
The pre-seminar preparation is where the bulk of the workload exists, as the students will need several important skills to participate effectively.
Students need to come to the discussion adequately prepared with knowledge of the subject and awareness of procedures.
Effective Socratic seminars begin before they begin!
1. Decide on a topic relevant to course material and grade level
2. Select text for students to read
3. Prepare open ended, sustainable questions
4. Prepare students with exercises that help them know how to “sustain a dialogue”
5. Discuss student
responsibilities during Socratic seminar
6. Invest students in the value of discussion
The relevant topic should be a big idea of the course. Open ended questions, not yes or no questions, should be able to be asked from the topic
A Socratic dialogue on CLONING in the middle grades
How to select a text...
A variety of texts can be used.
Fiction, nonfiction, lyrics, art, political cartoon, etc.
text contains multiple viewpoints or can be disputed
The text should be complex enough to
allow students to develop different perspectives
text is on student reading level
Middle School Cloning Texts
Should scientists be allowed to clone humans? What are the potential benefits? What could go wrong?
Politicians around the world have begun to ban human cloning experiments. Do you think it is a good or bad idea for politicians to decide what scientists can and cannot do?
Should people be able to clone their pets?
Questions should be phrased to open dialogue and allow students to freely discuss ideas. These questions should spark discussion and will often ultimately lead to more questions.
What might be some of the beneficial applications of cloning?
While there are many exercises possible prepare students, one method is to mold their dialogue by teaching students to speak with sentence stems
What better choices could he/she have made?
What rules would we need to make sure . . .?
Would that still happen if . . . ?
What might have made the difference?
Can you describe a situation that would . . .?
I'm not sure I understand . . .?
Suppose ________________. Would that still be true? Why or why not?
Has anyone else had a similar . . .?
Who has a different . . .?
Do you see gaps in my reasoning?
Are you taking into account something different from what I have considered?
Can you give us an example of . . .?
Where in the story . . .?
What would be a good reason for . . .?
What is some evidence for . . .?
Why do you think that happened?
How could that have been prevented?
Do you think that would happen that way again? Why?
What are some reasons people . . .?
How are __________ and _______ alike? Different?
What is that similar to?
Can you think of why this feels different than . . ?
1. Refer to the text when needed during the discussion. A seminar is not a test of memory. You are not "learning a subject"; your goal is to understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in the text.
2. It's okay to "pass" when asked to contribute.
3. Do not participate if you are not prepared. A seminar should not be a bull session.
4. Do not stay confused; ask for clarification.
5. Talk to the participants, not just the leader.
6. Stick to the point currently under discussion; make notes about ideas you want to come back to.
7. Don't raise hands; take turns speaking.
8. Listen carefully and respectfully.
9. Speak up so that everyone can hear you.
10. Talk to each other, not just to the teacher or the leader.
11. Discuss the ideas rather than each other's opinions.
12. You are responsible for the seminar, even if you don't know it or admit it.
Taken From : http://www.greece.k12.ny.us/academics.cfm?subpage=1561
Express the importance of being able to clearly communicate points of view in real world instances
Prepare activities allowing students to try Socratic methods before being graded
At this point, students should be prepared to engage in meaningful discussion to broaden and challenge their thinking on a topic.
During the seminar, the teacher will step out of the traditional role of primary instructor to allow students to drive the learning. They will become the "guide on the side, not the sage on the stage."
1. Create a discussion-friendly environment
Prepare an environment free of extra distractions, including extra technology and class materials
Situate students so that they are able to face all the participants
Have students bring materials -- paper or technology -- that they can reference in their discussion
2. Pose the question, manage the discussion
After throwing the question out for students to engage with, the teacher will both lead and participate in the discussion.
When moving through the discussion, the teacher can pose a different question when it seems that discussion has died down or shifted off topic.
Some side trails are worth taking and ultimately get to deeper issues. Questions posed during discussion that stem from the original should be cut out only if necessary.
Students will be graded through a series of rubrics
Students will receive a 360 evaluation:
INSIDE - OUTSIDE:
A Socratic Participation Strategy
Not all Socratic dialogues have to be the same!
Use an inside-outside strategy to increase participation
and encourage a critical view of good discussion.
divide the class into
One group of students will sit in an
inner circle and
one group of students will surround them in an
The teacher will set the expectation that only the students on the
inside talk and participate
Those on the
outside must be active listeners.
call time half way through
the period and students will
Those from the outside will
with the students on the inside.
Pose a new question!
To make seminars an integral and meaningful part of the classroom, students and teacher must reflect for ways to bring constant improvement to the process.
This reflection can be done in the post-seminar phase.
1. Seminar Reflection
Students can reflect on the seminar with a set of post-seminar questions.
1. Summary of key ideas.
2. Reaction: Identify what someone said; write down his/her comment. React to his/her statement.
3. Explain how the Seminar influenced your thinking about the topic or the text(s).
4. Socratic Connections: Identify and explain a connection to another writer/poet, news article, movie, song, commercial, Photograph/painting, TV show, person you know, experience you had, observation, another culture, famous/infamous person, etc. Explain your connection fully:
5. Self Assessment
Taking a position on a question 5 4 3 2 1
Using evidence to support a position or presenting factual information 5 4 3 2 1
Drawing another person into the discussion 5 4 3 2 1
Asking a clarifying question or moving the discussion along 5 4 3 2 1
Highlighting and marking the text with questions/commentary 5 4 3 2 1
Identify a personal goal for the next seminar:
Identify a group goal and how you would be willing to contribute to it: