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The Socratic Seminar: A Student-Centered Approach to Inquiry-Based Discussion Elizabeth Smith English Language Fellow.

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Presentation on theme: "The Socratic Seminar: A Student-Centered Approach to Inquiry-Based Discussion Elizabeth Smith English Language Fellow."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Socratic Seminar: A Student-Centered Approach to Inquiry-Based Discussion Elizabeth Smith English Language Fellow

2 Workshop Agenda I.) What is the Socratic Seminar? II.) Practice: Experience a Socratic Seminar III.) Reflection

3 The Vision Socrates believed that enabling students to think for themselves was more important than filling their heads with “right answers.”

4 What are Socratic Seminars? Highly motivating form of intellectual and scholarly discourse Rich, text-based discussion Sharing, listening, learning, and reflection

5 Elements of a Socratic Seminar 4 Key Elements:  Text  Questions  Students  Teacher (Facilitator) Usually range from 30-50 minutes An effective seminar creates dialogue as opposed to debate

6 Starting Dialogue Asking questions is the key! A leader prompts the use of dialogue  skill of collaboration that enables groups to create collective thinking. Students must risk making mistakes in order to learn how to learn to think critically, and work collaboratively. Idea sharing  no right, no wrong

7 Sparking Stimulating Dialogue Observations: “I noticed the author repeated…” Text Analysis: “One quote that was important to me was…” Connection Making  (self-text, text-text, text-world) Conclusions: “I think the author is trying to say…” Applications: “I think we are being challenged to…”

8 Discussion & Dialogue Discussion: a close examination of a subject with interchange of opinions, sometimes using argument, in an effort to reach an agreement Dialogue: an interchange of ideas especially when open and frank and seeking mutual understanding A Socratic Seminar is collective inquiry where we suspend opinions, share openly, and think creatively about difficult issues via discussion and dialouge

9 Dialogue is NOT Debate! DebateDialogue -oppositional -collaborative -defending arguments -open and reflective

10 The Text Readings in literature, history, science, math, health, and philosophy or from works of art or music Give students exposure to text day before to read and generate questions for participation

11 The Questions An opening question has no right answer  leads participants back to the text as they speculate, evaluate, define, and clarify the issues involved.  Responses to the opening question generate new questions

12 Guidelines for Questioning Learning occurs based on the kinds of questions asked Develop opening, core, and closing questions before the seminar –Non-judgmental and derived from the text –Questions that raise questions Avoid using YES/NO questions

13 Example Questions: By what reasoning did you come to that conclusion? What would you say to someone who said __? Are the reasons adequate? Why? What led you to that belief? How does that apply to this case? What would change your mind? Who is in the position to know if that is so? Why did you say “they?” What view would be in opposition to what you are saying?

14 The Facilitator/Teacher Begins Seminar by prompting beginning questions Moderates balanced participation Helps participants clarify their positions when arguments become confused

15 Tips for Teachers Before the seminar: Read the text CAREFULLY  Focus on provocative questions  Select short, accessible passages  Identify challenging vocabulary Choose an introductory question in advance  Broad, open-ended, provocative

16 Tips for Teachers Review & post seminar procedures  Respond to the opening question  Examine the text to support your answer  “I agree with… but would like to add…”  “I disagree with…because…”  “I am confused by…”

17 Tips for Teachers Allow for pauses  Silent moments for thinking As a leader, take notes  Sum up what you’ve heard at the end of the session

18 The Participants Share responsibility for the quality of the seminar. Most effective when participants: –study the text closely in advance –listen actively

19 The Participants Most effective when participants: –share their ideas and questions in response to others –search for evidence in the text to support their ideas

20 The “Fishbowl” Strategy: For LARGE classes (over 25 students) Divide the class into “Inner” and “Outer” circles

21 Conducting a “Fishbowl” Inner circle = active participants Outer circle = students observe 2 active participants for:  New ideas  Question asked  Referred to text  Positive Comments

22 Reflective Participants What was the most interesting question? What was the most interesting idea to come from a participant? What was the best thing you observed? What was the most troubling thing you observed? What do you think should be done differently in the next seminar? What do you wish you had said?

23 Benefits include: All four language modalities utilized Academic Speaking and Listening Skills strengthened In-depth discussions, problem solving, and clarification of ideas Builds a strong, collaborative work culture Enhances knowledge and research-based Increases success for all students Teaches respect for diverse ideas, people, and practices Creates a positive learning environment for all students

24 Tips for Teachers During the seminar: Begin with an opening question that has NO right answer  “What is meant by…”  “What is the title, theme and tone of the reading..?”  “What is your own interpretation of the reading…?” Teacher listens HARD, follows each answer, if necessary, with another question.

25 Assessing Take notes, use rubrics  Many teachers prefer to assign a culminating written assignment or essay on the topic

26 Experience! Observe a real Socratic Seminar Read OUR text Practice a Seminar as a participant Reflect

27 Questions? Thank you very much for your time! Stay in touch! Elizabeth Smith English Language Fellow, CCNN “English Language Fellow Nicaragua”

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