Reflection: High Quality Task Conducting Our First Socratic Seminar - Section 2: Socratic Seminar


I deliberately lowered the participation requirement for this first round, because I wanted to assess the dynamic for dialogue and discussion in each class when students were put in charge.  I will admit that requirements for a Socratic Seminars remain a work in progress for me; while my aim is to have every student participate in some way, I have found that when I give hard requirements for participation, the dialoguing can become superficial and rushed, because students are more concerned about participating the required number of times that I have set for them than they are in developing meaningful dialogue.

Oral participation in each class was about 50%, and that 50% was mainly comprised of my students who tend to dominate our class discussions.  One class was very much tuned in to the commonality of the vignettes, one student even using the term "coming of age" to describe Esperanza's experiences, while in another class, I had to twice step in and regulate as the discussion wandered off topic.  My other two classes reached varying degrees of success.

In the past I have utilized exit tickets at the conclusion of Socratic Seminars--students write one thing that went well and one thing that needs improvement--and I will begin using this system with our next seminar.  I have also experimented with offering bonus points when an active participant directs a question specifically to someone who has not yet spoken, giving the silent student a chance to participate.  I may consider differentiating the participation requirement for my more vocal students. Because I can generally count on them to participate, I may require that part of their grade is to direct a question to a more reluctant participant.

I have witnessed Socratic Seminars get more productive and more meaningful with practice.  By keeping our first round with one a low-stakes endeavor, I feel I am more able to assess and plan accordingly for our future seminars. 

  Reflecting On First Socratic Seminar
  High Quality Task: Reflecting On First Socratic Seminar
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Conducting Our First Socratic Seminar

Unit 3: House on Mango Street Part II
Lesson 7 of 13

Objective: SWBAT conduct a Socratic Seminar by sustaining an extended dialogue around four vignettes from The House On Mango Street through student-generated questions.

Big Idea: Students take the lead and dictate the discourse around a text.

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