Cornerstone: Socratic Circle

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SWBAT: Engage in a collaborative discussion with peers regarding texts to build on each other's ideas and express their own.

Big Idea

Students use the Socratic Circle format to discuss a set of texts, all centered around a central theme.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

It's kinda weird to read nonfiction to prepare for fiction, right? Not, really. Time after time, I feel like those are those kids who don't see themselves as "creative," or feel blocked by having to write short stories. As a teacher, intentionality is important--kids need to see that we don't write short stories just for "fun." By giving cultural and personal significance to the power of storytelling, it's my hope that students will attach to the genre and "buy in." The Guiding Question asks the students to begin thinking about how a nonfiction text (in this case the articles and testimonies about the power of storytelling) might teach them something about fiction. But, if you think about it, there are alwys benefits of using supportive texts with narration.


15 minutes

Before I throw my kids into a situation where they have to speak in front of the class, it's important that they practice. One really engaging way to practice both thinking and listening skills and to build background knowledge is to have the students do a Quotation mingle. I cut up the quotes to make strips, and have the students find someone else who doesn't have their quote. They spend a minute reading it out loud to their partner, explain what it might mean to them, and then try to make a connection to their partner's quote (all the quotes are about story telling). 

I give only about 3 or 4 minutes for each partnership, and let them move 2 or 3 times--as long as the kids are engaged, listening, and speaking, I know they are learning. During this time, I walk around and eavesdrop. If the kids are making good, deep connections I might push them further, or add my own thinking. If the kids are struggling, I might ask leading questions.

Work Time: Socratic Circle

35 minutes

Everything builds up to the Socratic Circle. I give my kids the option of who wants to be in the inner circle (more pressure, more eyes on you, and it can feel evaluative), and who wants to be in the outer circle. For those who are in the outer circle, they use the Outer Circle Record Sheet and the Socratic Circle Look Fors. The kids on the inner circle use the Inner Circle Record Sheet and the Questioning Levels. The Questioning Levels have been used before in my class, so that we are asking deep level questions, rather than those who might solicit "yes/no" answers.