Socratic Seminar

Enriching Student Engagement Through Discussions

Benefits of a Socratic Seminar

*Student Led

*Student Engagment

*Higher Retention Rates

*Successful in any Classroom/School

Background of Socratic Seminar

Socrates believed that the answers to all human questions and problems reside within us. Therefore, he was convinced that the best way to learn those answers and attain reliable knowledge was through a disciplined conversation. A socratic seminar is learning or attaining information through dialect with classmates in regards to a specific text. Students pursue deeper understanding of complex ideas through thoughtful dialogue instead of memorizing pieces of information.

Teacher Role

1. Pass out a short passage of text to all students.

2. Allow time for students to read, analyze, and take notes the text.

3. Answer questions based on the text.

4. Seperate students into two circles (inner and outer).

5. Monitor all students to see that they are fulfilling their roles as inner circle and outer circle participants.

6. Direct students to assess performance using a rubric then switch roles

Inner Circle (Student's Roles/Expectations)

1. Discussing responses to the questions and piggy backing on other's thoughts

2. Listening to what others are saying

3. Stating evidence or reasons with support from the text

4. Moving the discussion to a deeper level

5. Providing relevant and insightful comments

6. Staying focused on the discussion

7. Using appropriate cues or starters to respond to other students

Outer Circle (Student's Roles/Expectations)

1. Use active listening skills

2. Saving thoughts for later discussion by annotating notes

3. Analyze the discussion using inner circle's expectations

4. Provide constructive and evaluative feedback

Socratic Passage

The Socratic seminar is a formal discussion, based on a text, in which the leader asks

open-ended questions. Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulate their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others. They learn to work cooperatively and to question intelligently and civilly.



-Elfie Israel “Examining Multiple Perspectives in Literature”