Whitesburg Instructional Spotlight
Week of November 16, 2015
Socratic Seminars.....a note from Mrs. Seeley
In Socratic Seminars, students develop and practice discussion skills. In a typical Socratic Seminar, an inner circle of 4-6 students discuss texts and use textual evidence to make connections and ask thought-provoking questions. Students in the outer circle critique and score the discussion. Students are given points whenever they make constructive contributions to the discussion, such as ask thought provoking questions, use textual evidence, or play Devil's Advocate. They lose points if they exhibit disrespectful behaviors, such as interrupting their teammates, making insults, or are distracting.
After the seminar students are given evaluation cards where they are asked to reflect on the discussion and to score themselves...what they did best and what can be improved. They are also asked to point out strengths ("I liked what ______said") and weaknesses of their classmates and to discuss this with them.
I love Socratic Seminars. I recommend preparing the students beforehand with a set of questions for them to discuss and to go over the rules. I have also conducted end of unit seminars for the students to reflect on what we read. They are a great tool and the more that students participate in the seminars the better they become at classroom discussion. One important note for a positive seminar: The teacher's role is just as a guide. Allow students to conduct the seminar and choose one in each group to act as Moderator.
Prepare for discussions
Use a variety of discussion skills
Ask and answer deep questions
Build on and refute others’ ideas
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1a Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1b Follow rules for collegial discussions and decisionmaking, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1c Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1d Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.