"Zebra"Socratic Circle and QAR Questions

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Students will be able to analyze elements of a story and cite evidence by effectively engage in a fishbowl Socratic circle.

Big Idea

Students pose questions , acknowledge alternate views, and follow rules for collegial discussions through a fishbowl Socratic seminar.


10 minutes

What is the central conflict of "Zebra?" What type of conflict is it?  What evidence do you have for identifying the conflict as person vs. .....? How does Zebra solve his central conflict?

Daily Grams

10 minutes

Day 35



  • Fountain Hills is a proper noun.  Art show is a common noun.
  • Mother is only a proper noun if it is used as someone's name.  'Her mother' is not using mother as a name, so it is a common noun.


  • Commas are used to set off interrupters in a sentence. Even if the interrupter comes at the beginning of a sentence, it is set off by a comma.
  • A colon is used to signal that a list of things is coming.  Commas are used to separate the individual items in the list.


  • Possessives are formed by adding appostrophes and an s.
  • If the owner and the noun are singular, it ends in x's.
  • If the owner is plural and the noun is singular, it it ends in xs'.



  • An infinitive is the most basic form of verbs.  It is created by adding 'to' to a verb.
  • to smile, to jump, to be, to say, to sign are all infinitives


Sentence Fluency

  • Today's sentence is a run-on sentence.  Repetitive subjects can be taken to create a sentence with a single subject and multiple verbs in the predicate.

Reviewing "Zebra" QAR Questions

15 minutes

StudZebra Questionsents were assigned QAR questions for "Zebra" to complete for homework. QAR is a framework that gives students a structure for answering questions and is one of our school-wide literacy strategies.  Every teacher, regardless of content area, is expected to use the QAR strategy throughout the year.


 If I collected, read each answer, and wrote comments on their papers, it would take hours.  Students would passively read (or not both to read) my comments.  Grading practice assignments this way is an exercise in futility.  I wish I had realized that sooner. 


Instead, I asked students to work in groups to check their answers. They were divided into three groups, mostly because I had three large boards available for students to write on. They took turns writing their answers on the boards and checking forZebra Questions

  • accuracy: Is the answer right?  Is the answer found in the text?  On what page is the answer found?
  • sentence structure: Is it written in a complete sentence?  Is it a run-on, fragment, or complete sentence?
  • conventions: Is the beginning of the sentence capitalized?  Is there appropriate punctuation at the end of the sentence?  Are words spelled correctly?


Students were actively checking their papers.  They weren't passively reading or not reading comments. 


At the en15 out of 15d, I asked students to evaluate their own work.  Did they follow directions?  Did they answer the questions in complete sentences on a separate sheet of paper?  Did they use proper conventions?  Were their answers right?  Out of 15 points, how many points did they think they should earn?  After considering these questions, students wrote the grade they thought they should earn on the top of the paper.



"Zebra" Socratic Seminar

50 minutes

For one of my classes, I was able to set up the desks into two circles for a Socratic seminar.  For the other class, I had students spend a few minutes arranging the desks.  I have a table, so I used that for the inner circle and all the other desks were placed in the outer circle.


Today's Socratic circle is a fishbowl type method of Socratic circles.  Socratic circles have two circles: an inner circle that is actively discussing and an outer circle that is observing.  The inner circle is the fishbowl.  We used the Literature Circle  roles for this circle, so we had a discussion director, literary luminary, a summarizer, and a connector in the fishbowl.  There was also a hot seat.  This was a chair left empty.  If a student from the outer circle wanted to jump into the conversation, they could hop into the hot chair, state their comment, and then jump back into the outer circle. 


My student teacher participated in the first two groups to provide scaffolding.  This is the first Socratic circle they've participated in this year, so they needed some extra support and guidance.  By the third or fourth group, students had a much better handle on what they were expected to do.


The outer circle was given two things to focus on.  The first was key points that the people in the fishbowl made.  The second was how people in the outer circle were behaving. 

  • Focus Questions for the Outer Circle
    • How did body language suggest that they were listening or not listening?
    • Did anybody whisper to the person next to them?  What effect did that have on people in the fishbowl?
    • If someone moved to the hot seat, how did they do it?
    • Did everyone give homecourt advantage?  How?


Each group had four minutes in the fishbowl.  Everyone was expected to say something, and of course, it was the discussion director's job to make sure that people were talking and to move the conversation along.  After the first group went in fourth hour, the fishbowl members commented that it went really fast, but the outside circle thought it went by slowly.


How did they know what to say?  Their homework from the night before was to prepare for this discussion.