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Socratic Seminar

Grade 6  Grade 7/8

What is it?

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. (89)

How do we participate?

Don’t raise hands 

Listen carefully 

Address one another respectfully

Base any opinions on the text --Relate your statements to particular passages, to clarify, and to elaborate

Address comments to the group (no side conversations)

Use sensitivity to take turns and not interrupt others

Monitor ‘air time’

Be courageous in presenting your own thoughts and reasoning, but be flexible and willing to change your mind in the face of new and compelling evidence

Expectations and Reflection:

_____ Analysis and Reasoning  -- Did you / Did your partner:

Cite reasons and evidence for his/her statements with support from the text? 

Demonstrate that they had given thoughtful consideration to the topic? 

Provide relevant and insightful comments? Demonstrate organized thinking?

Move the discussion to a deeper level?

_____ Discussion Skills -- Did you / Did your partner:

Speak loudly and clearly? Stay on topic? 

Talk directly to other students rather than the teacher? 

Stay focused on the discussion? Invite other people into the discussion? 

Share air time equally with others (didn’t talk more than was fair to others)?

_____ Civility ---- Did you / Did your partner:

Listen to others respectfully? 

Enter the discussion in a polite manner? 

Avoid inappropriate language (slang, swearing)? 

Avoid hostile exchanges? 

Question others in a civil manner?

Source: http://www.nwabr.org/education/pdfs/PRIMER/PrimerPieces/SocSem.pdf

Prepare for Seminar:

1 Circle any confusing words.

2 Ask these questions about the text to discuss:

When preparing for a Socratic Seminar, write questions using these sentence frames to stimulate your thinking about the article(s) you read. Choose and complete 5 of the following:

* What puzzles me is...

I’d like to talk with people about...

I’m confused about...

Don’t you think this is similar to...

Do you agree that the big ideas seem to be.

I have questions about...

Another point of view is...

I think it means...

Do you think...

What does it mean when the author says...

Do you agree that...


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