Reflection: Student Ownership Socratic Seminar Three - Section 3: Shout Outs


As my students discussed their topics in each class, I took notes on some of the highlights.  Here are a few comments that stood out:

  • On the prevalence of technology:  "I don't like using Kindles in the classroom--I like books!"
  • Again, on technology:  "Discoveries have saved us, like the wheel and fire."
  • On the amount of time teenagers spend online:  "If you just do what your parents say, then it's easier."
  • On consumerism, and the "rush" of buying something new:  "That's where the rhetorical square comes in handy."  (A reference to our work with advertisements in this lesson)

Overall, the seminars today met my expectations, in that my students were able to sustain the dialoguing for the amount of time given, and that they had plenty to discuss with the material they had provided.  Much of their commentary was rooted in textual evidence, and when discussions began to stray, I could count on a student to pull it back towards the text(s).  I will definitely conduct a seminar in this fashion again, as a finale, once my students have practiced with a few rounds throughout the year.

One of the fundamental elements of the Socratic Seminar is the absence of hand-raising, and I will admit that this sometimes gets a little tricky.  I watched a few students struggle to "jump in" today, as their voices were drowned out by others, until I was compelled to regulate, allowing those students the floor. I found myself at the end of the first seminar giving a little pep talk on the importance of recognizing when one is dominating a conversation, and that truly successful people understand how much we have to learn from each other (for the remaining three seminars, I slipped this reminder in before we began).  While my students are generally respectful towards one another, thanks in part to the accountable talk they are expected to use in my classroom, as well as the "seminar rock" I use to remind them to invite others into the discussion,  many still have a ways to go before they have perfected the art of knowing when it is better to listen than to speak.

I suppose that is the story of eighth-grade (dare I say us all?): a ways to go before any semblance of perfection is reached!

  Student Ownership: What They Had To Say (And Did They Struggle To Say It?)
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Socratic Seminar Three

Unit 10: Travels with Charley
Lesson 9 of 9

Objective: SWBAT participate in the final Socratic Seminar of the year, discussing documents about topics of their own choosing.

Big Idea: The training wheels are off: students take charge, from beginning to end.

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