“ To succeed in life, students should be able to write and speak with clarity and to read and listen with comprehension. Language and thought are inextricably connected, and as students develop their linguistic skills, they hone the quality of their thinking and become intellectually and socially empowered. ” Ernest L. Boyer Carnegie Foundation
Purpose The purpose of a Socratic Seminar is to: Achieve a deeper understanding about the ideas and values in a text. Have participants systematically question and examine issues and principles Articulate different points-of-view. Assist participants in constructing meaning through disciplined analysis, interpretation, listening, and participation.
Background In a Socratic Seminar, the participants carry the burden of responsibility for the quality of the discussion. Good discussions occur when participants study the text closely in advance, listen actively, share their ideas and questions in response to the ideas and questions of others, and search for evidence in the text to support their ideas. The discussion is not about right answers; it is not a debate. Students are encouraged to think out loud and to exchange ideas openly while examining ideas in a rigorous, thoughtful, manner.
Seminar versus Class Discussion Seminar 97% student talk Student average response = 8- 12 seconds No teacher approval or disapproval Thinking is paramount, backed up with textual evidence Students listen to peers Student ownership for “flow” Specific accountability as testing/documented evidence for grading Discussion 97% teacher talk Student average response= 2-3 seconds Teacher judgment-emphasis on correctness; limited extended thinking Rightness is paramount; thinking ends as soon as one is right Students listen primarily to the teacher Teacher ownership of the flow A “Frill”. If absent didn’t really miss anything.
Day 1 Choose a short story, poem or primary source document or other resource. Read the piece aloud to the students as they follow along or assign the reading for homework. Using the guide for writing a response, students write what they think of the story and relate connections to other stories they have read. They are encouraged to support all opinions with examples or evidence from the text.
Day 2 Students choose five vocabulary words and write down the meaning of the word as it is used in the story as well as the part of speech. They also use the word in their own original sentence. Students share vocabulary words and why they chose them.
Day 4: The Seminar Initially the teacher is the leader. However after three or more seminars, the students begin taking turns as leaders. Students sit in a circle with a nametag in front of them that says “Mr.” or “Miss” and their last name. This set up allows participants to maintain eye contact and speak directly to one another while it also indicates to the students that the teacher will enter the dialogue as a participan
Group Norms Socratic Seminar Discussion Norms: 1) Do not raise hand; this is a conversation, not a question and answer session 2) One person speaks at a time -- no interrupting 3) Address each other, not the teacher 4) Ground interpretations and comments in the text 5) Listen to and respect each other’s opinions 6) Remember: there is no wrong answer!
14 Discussion Phrases to Use In order to interact with one another in a mature way, here are a few phrases to help us communicate during the discussion: When you disagree: “I have a different opinion/interpretation” (followed by statement) “I disagree. Let me explain why...” For clarification if you do not understand: “I think I understand, but let me be sure” (then rephrase) “What do you mean by...?” When you agree: “I agree with his/her point and this is...” 14
Example of a Seminar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBjZ-4MK1WE&feature=fvwrel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBjZ-4MK1WE&feature=fvwrel