Reading Sensitive Material: Examining How Literature Documents The Human Experience

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SWBAT propel conversations that relate to the human experience by engaging in Socratic Seminar.

Big Idea

How do we approach sensitive material that might be uncomfortable for students or teachers?

Unit Overview

The beginning of a new unit is always exciting! In this unit, the Common Core Standards are front and center.  We are going to really work on tracing a theme throughout multiple texts (RL.9-10.2) and using test evidence to support our claims of analysis (RL.9-10.1).  One of the common CC debates is "how do we teach an entire novel."  During this unit, students will be reading Night, but we will supplement the reading of the memoir with numerous informative and argumentative texts.  While working on the standards, students will be examining the theme: What Makes Us Human? I will frequently ask students to reflect on this theme and use the texts in class to either challenge or reinforce their thoughts.  

Putting on our Maturity Hat

20 minutes

Due to an assembly, class will only be 20 minutes long.  It is great timing that we begin a new unit today! 

Students will enter class and will receive the Reading Sensitive Materials Socratic Seminar Guide.  The instructions on the Smart Board will ask students to read each of the statements and respond with a minimum of three sentences.  I will give students seven minutes to complete their sheet. Standard W 9-10.10 explains that students need lots of opportunities to experience many forms of writing.  This activity gives students the opportunity to write, for short periods of time, about topics that interest them.  After the sheet is complete, I will group students into two groups so we can have a Socratic Seminar.  Socratic Seminar is a tool I often use in class to teach speaking and listening skills.  When we have a Socratic Seminar, I ask students to put their maturity hats on. 


The Seminar

15 minutes

Today's Seminar will focus on the sheet they just completed.  Students will use the first question on the sheet as their first question for Seminar.  The only thing I will tell the students is when to switch the inner circle for the outer circle.  The timing isn't set in stone.  I switch the groups when I feel like the outer circle is busting with information to contribute.  The seminar will last for 15 minutes.  I will leave two minutes before the bell rings for students to add thoughts to their Reading Sensitive Materials SS Guide they gained from the SS. This reflection is important for students to qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented as explained in SL 9-10.1d).  I will collect the assignment as students leave class.  

 The standards tell us students must propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to larger ideas (SL 9-10.1c). The Socratic Seminar is a perfect way to do that.  My students have participated in Socratic Seminars numerous times, so they should be prepared for the procedures. This link gives a pretty good explanation of a Socratic Seminar.  When I first began using Socratic Seminar often in my room, I received the Rules for Socratic Seminar packet at a conference.  It helped form SS in my classroom.  I still sometimes use the question types.  

The Socratic Seminar Example video provides footage of a Seminar conducted for another lesson, but demonstrates the classroom set up and what a Seminar looks like.