Dynamic Learning: Socratic Seminar In The Reader's Workshop Classroom

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SWBAT effectively participate in collaborative discussions by being an active participant in a Socratic Seminar.

Big Idea

Can teenagers independently carry an adult conversation based on a complex text?

Warm Up--Procedures and Norms

5 minutes

Since it is the beginning of second semester, I want students to practice the procedures that make our room successful.  Today I am going to review with them the pacing of a normal 48 minute day for us.  This visual of Workshop Classroom Pacing is pacing for a normal 48 minute class.  I will review this with students, explain my responsibilities and ask them to write their responsibilities during this time.  I will also ask them to expand on their list and include a set of norms for our Socratic Seminar.  Students have a Socratic Seminar Anchor Chart in their binders, but this is good review (SL 9-10 1.b).  

 The video Part One of Workshop Pacing Explanation and Part Two of Workshop Pacing Explanation offer a visual to the explanation I give to students.  I want to be really transparent in my reasons.  I want students to understand that my instruction is purposeful and planned carefully.  

Mini Lesson--Preparing for Seminar

10 minutes

In yesterday's lesson, I had students trying to identify the conflict and setting within this article. I was alarmed that they might be looking for typical literary elements in a nonfiction work.  Last night, I decided they need a little more support in reading an understanding an argumentative work and to effectively have a Socratic Seminar today, I need to really make sure they have read this article well.  I am going to ask students to take a 3 Step Argument Approach. The standards are clear that after students identify the claim, they need to be able to analyze how the author supported that claim and the validity of the evidence (RI 91-10.5).  This approach is the beginning of the depth of reading required to move into deeper standards.  I am going to put the three steps on the Smart Board and reveal them one at a time.  I will walk around and make sure students are going through the steps and annotating the answers on their article.  After each step,  I will set the timer to two minutes and allow students to discuss their answers at their table.  Two Students Discuss The Author's Claim in this video.    

After they are finished answering the three steps,  I am going to have students write three questions about the article, topics from the article, connections between the article and another work, etc.  These three questions will help them enter the Socratic Seminar and really engage with their peers. 

Student Work Time-The Seminar

25 minutes

I will number students as either a one or a two.  The group labeled one will be in the inner circle first.  Group two will be the outer circle. Only the inner circle is allowed to speak. The outside circle is listening quietly, taking notes, writing additional questions, etc.  I will present the first question and then will let students take over the conversation.  

I will begin the Seminar with the question: Near the end of the article, the author takes a jab at the idea of "visual learners" and "social learners." Do you think teachers should make adjustments for you based on what kind of learner you are?

As the Seminar advances, I will tell groups when to switch.  At that time, the inner circle will move to the outside, where they will sit in silence and take notes.  The outer circle will move to the middle where they will either continue with the current conversation or will begin a new conversation with a question of their own.  

While students are working, I will be looking for students to propel conversations by posing and responding to questions (SL 9-10.1c) and for students to justify their own views with evidence from the text (SL 9-10.1d). 

Socratic Seminar Example is a short clip of students engaging in Socratic Seminar.  While there are a few students, particularly on the outside circle, who don't seem to be paying attention, for the most part, students are engaged and actively listening.  

Closure--How Did We Do?

5 minutes

Today's exit ticket is going to ask students to grade themselves in the Socratic Seminar.  

I will distribute the Socratic Seminar Reflection  and ask students to work on completing it. I really like the reflection guide.  I received it at a conference years ago and it is a great tool. It's important for students to reflect not only on their performance during the Seminar, but on their mastery of today's objectives.