Volcanoes: Socratic Seminar & Main Ideas

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SWBAT analyze a text by identifying multiple main ideas.

Big Idea

How do we discuss a text with multiple main ideas?

Cue Set

20 minutes

Scholars re-watch the video on volcanoes that we watched the day before yesterday.  I remind them that even though we are watching the same video, we are watching it with a different purpose.  Today when we watch, we are going to think about what the topic is, what the important facts or examples are, and how the facts/examples are grouped (main ideas).  Here is one student's notebook.  Notice how they are categorizing supporting details by main ideas (these are off to the side in the margin of the paper).  

The idea here is that scholars identify the topic: Volcanoes, the main ideas (how volcanoes are formed, types of volcanoes, etc.).  

I give scholars 1 minute after watching the video to jot down their thinking.  Then we re-watch (main ideas are very tricky, sometimes it is helpful to develop a theory, then re-watch to test that theory).  After they re-watch, they have 2 minutes to chat with friends.  Then, I pull 3 friends from my cup and take 2 volunteers to discuss.  

I explain that as we re-read Volcanoes by Simon Seymour today, that we are going to focus on identifying the main ideas and most important supporting details.  This is a particular challenge with this text because it does not have headings, etc. That is one of the reasons I selected to use it - it is very easy to identify main ideas with sub-headings, but much more challenging without!  

Teaching Strategy

20 minutes

I explain that as we re-read today, we're going to think about three questions:

1. What is the text mostly about? 

2. Summarize the author's main points. 

3. What are some of the key details?  How do they help you understand the main ideas? 

As we read, we will record our thoughts on the 2nd read part of our Graphic organizer (this is on page 2).  My mom made new Tag Board Main Ideas for my class.  These tag boards are for specific skills like main ideas, narrator's perspective, etc.  They are generic enough to be used with multiple texts depending on what you're looking for.  The clear labels help scholars to remember which color represents which skill.  This accompanies our Graphic organizer that is also generic enough to be used with multiple skills.  Scholars highlight the focus questions and then use the tag boards to search for the evidence in the text that will help them answer the focus questions.  

During this lesson, se use blue post-it notes to save the place in the text that we want to go back and reference (blue relates to RI 2 - main ideas, supporting details and summarizing).  

As I model how to use our new tool, I re-read a section of the text from yesterday and we do a cloze reading to enhance engagement. When we do a cloze reading, we all have access to the same text, I read aloud and pause over certain words.  Scholars fill-in-the-blank with the paused upon word.  This helps me to know that scholars are all following along.  During the reading, I pause and model how to recored my thinking on our note taking template and place the blue post-it notes in the text so that i am prepared to explicitly reference the text during the seminar.  

Click here to see a student taking notes as I model. 

Guided Practice

20 minutes

During the guided practice, scholars split into heterogeneous partnerships.  Above grade level readers read with grade level readers, grade level readers read with below grade level readers. I do not pair above with below as that can be very frustrating for both scholars.  Scholars are able to get up and move to a comfy place in the classroom so that they can stretch a bit and change scenery.  This enhances engagement and can inspire creativity.  Here is and example of partner reading.  

Scholars complete reading the text and continue to jot down thinking on their note taking template and mark books with blue post-its from the tag board.  I pull a small group of my ELL scholars who need more support accessing the text and identifying the main ideas.  

Independent Practice

40 minutes

This time is the actual seminar.  Since this is the second time that we've done the seminar, we spend about 5 minutes practicing how to arrange our desks.  There are two circles (one inside of another larger circle).  Scholars who are participating in the discussion are in the inner circle. Scholars who are watching/listening and evaluating the discussion sit on the outside of the circle.  

Scholars in the inner circle discuss the following questions: 

1. What is the text mostly about? 

2. Summarize the author's main points. 

3. What are some of the key details?  How do they help you understand the main ideas? 

*We watched a video on the socratic seminar and discussed norms last week during our writing lesson.  

Scholars in the outer circle give an individual rating to their partner (person sitting directly across from them) and an overall rating for the group.  The rating is a simple fist to five.  Five indicating everyone participates, discussion remains on topic, participants respectfully agree/disagree, discussion is interesting,and participants remain attentive.   

We will do two discussions each lasting 20 minutes so that each group of scholars have an opportunity to discuss.  As scholars discuss, they can continue to take notes on their note taking template.  Completed note taking templates are a part of their checklist items for the week.