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Leading the Socratic Seminar

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1 Leading the Socratic Seminar
Presented by Martha Lamb Catawba County Schools August 13, 2009

2 Objectives You will . . . be able to write effective seminar questions
learn how to prepare students to interact effectively during a seminar develop basic skills for leading a Socratic Seminar be familiar with strategies for evaluating student participation in seminars

3 What is the Socratic Seminar?
A Socratic seminar is a structured discussion of a specific text based upon the questioning techniques used by Socrates in his teaching.

4 Benefits of the Socratic Seminar
Promotes close and critical reading of texts Teaches respect for diverse ideas Creates a positive learning environment for all students. Provides a forum for students to practice taking and supporting a stance

5 Benefits of the Socratic Seminar (continued)
Creates a community of inquiry Affords quality time to engage in in-depth discussion, problem-solving, and clarification of one’s ideas Builds a strong, collaborative work culture. Places the student in the center of learning as an active and engaged participant

6 Dialogue, Not Debate Dialogue Debate Collaborative
Listen to find common ground Reveals assumptions for evaluation Creates open-minded attitude Respects all participants Assumes that many people have pieces of answers Remains open-ended Oppositional Listen to find flaws in argument Defends assumptions as truth Creates closed-minded attitude May belittle other participants Assumes a single right answer Demands a conclusion

7 Taxonomies of Questions
Great Books Foundation Levels of Questions: Factual Interpretive Evaluative Costa’s Levels of Inquiry: Level 3 - apply, evaluate, hypothesize, judge, predict, speculate Level 2 - analyze, compare, contrast, group, infer, sequence, synthesize Level 1 - define, describe, identify, list, name, observe, recite, scan Use to build comprehension of a difficult text Use to interpret a perplexing text See handout.

8 Crafting Questions for Seminar
Utilize a taxonomy (Costa’s works well) Prepare questions from each level Focus on the higher-level questions in your seminar Try to remove bias from your questions that might lead the discussion in a particular direction Write questions that require close examination of the text in order to answer

9 Practice Writing Questions
With a partner, write two questions at each of Costa’s three levels for The Gettysburg Address. Be prepared to share your questions with the group.

10 1st Seminar: Gettysburg Address
Rules for Participation – Be a good listener. The purpose of the seminar is to learn from each other by listening and discussing your ideas. You do not have to be called on to speak. but only one person may speak at a time. Refer to the text often to support your points or to raise additional questions. Speak to each other, not to the leader. This is your discussion. Do not use examples from other stories, books, movies, etc. to support your interpretation because all of the seminar members may not be familiar with those texts. Only use examples from the text. On what battlefield was the audience assembled? What does consecrate mean? What challenge did Lincoln issue in this speech? What effect do you think this speech had on the people in attendance? How might this speech have been received if it had been delivered in a Confederate state?

11 Seminar Leader Behaviors
Ask questions in which you have a genuine interest Refrain from offering your own opinion Keep the discussion focused on the text Ask follow-up questions Ask participants to clarify their points Seek to involve reluctant participants & restrain those who tend to monopolize the discussion LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!!!

12 Follow-Up Questions What in the text leads you to that conclusion?
What do you mean by ___________? If what you say is so, then why did the author write ____________? Where in the text did you find that? Do you agree or disagree with the point that ___________ made? How does that example support your point?

13 Marking the Text as Preparation
Always have students read the text two times before discussion: 1st time - to get the main idea; the gist 2nd time – to annotate the text

14 Marking the Text as Preparation
-Underline important or perplexing text -Use codes: ! to mark surprising things ? to mark confusing things * to mark important things -Write comments & observations in the margins **If students can’t mark up their text, give them sticky notes to use for their annotations Use document camera to demonstrate marking the text

15 2nd Seminar: My Spanish Standoff
Read the text through two times On your second reading, mark the text with your thoughts; this will help you in discussion Inner Circle/Outer Circle Use to make a large group smaller & more manageable for a seminar Assign students to outer circle if they have been absent or are otherwise unprepared for discussion Always have outer circle share notes

16 How should seminar participation be assessed?
Self-assessment tool Holistic Rubric Analytic Rubric Writing assignment as follow-up Reflections posted on wiki Others?

17 Prepare to Lead Mother to Son Third Seminar Read twice & mark text
Work with a partner to prepare questions Who will lead? Third Seminar

18 Revisit Objectives You will . . .
be able to write effective seminar questions learn how to prepare students to interact effectively during a seminar develop basic skills for leading a Socratic Seminar be familiar with strategies for evaluating student participation in seminars

19 Don’t forget to evaluate this workshop in SchoolLink.

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