Nothing Gold Can Stay: A Socratic Seminar

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SWBAT use the insights discussed with peers to determine the theme of a poem.

Big Idea

The beauty of finding theme in poetry is being able to discuss it with someone else.


5 minutes

These are the days of teaching I live for. I love to see my students dig into poetry and try to figure out the meaning. Then watching them "chomping at the bit" to share their responses and holding real conversations just makes my job worthwhile. Socratic Seminars provide my students with real world applications for reading and helps them put effort into reading so they can come to group prepared. 

Today you will read a short poem title, "Nothing Gold Can Stay." While reading, you will annotate the poem using our theme notes sheet. I'd like you to focus primarily on finding the theme of the poem, but if you jot down some other ideas along the way, that's fine too! You will have 15 minutes to read and annotate to prepare for the seminar. Then we will review the expectations before starting our discussion. 

While students are reading, I move around to the students who are in my strategic reading group right now. I need to help them meet proficiency on the state tests, so I'll just pop in to look over thinking and pose questions to guide their thinking. The theme notes sheet is really helpful, but sometimes as question like, "What does the title make you think?" "Do you think the author is really talking about gold?" can help move them toward better ideas. 


Socratic Seminar

30 minutes

Before we start seminar, we need to go over the expectations. 

 My previous Socratic Seminar lesson goes through my expectations and includes the observation assessment  sheet and the expectations visual that I like to display. Here is a clip of my kids working in that seminar. 

Once I split my class and get the inner circle seated and the outer circle ready for observations, the only question I plan to pose today is What is the theme of this poem? I'm hoping that students can get the idea that nothing precious can last forever. I chose this poem because it was short, yet deep. At least ten of my students are still very literal, so I wanted to see how many of them would think this poem is really about gold. If students are getting to the big ideas, I plan to have questions about the words that discuss nature ready. You can prompt them with something like, Does nature change? Do living things like leaves and flowers stay around?.  I only do this if they are no where near these thoughts after 15 minutes. 

I let each group chat and record observations for 15 minutes. If this were a longer poem, I might provide more time, but that should be ample. As the students are discussing and chatting, I walk around the outside circle to monitor the observations being made. I try not to jump into the discussions so the kids can be more in charge of their own learning. 

Reflection and Closure

10 minutes

Once we finish up with the discussions and observations, partners get together and reflect on the experience. There is a section on the assessment tools sheet that allows for self and peer reflection about participation in the circle. My students are still working on joining in the conversation and not allowing some students to dominating the conversation. I use this time to work in teachable moments about sharing the discussion and pulling others into the conversation.

Here you can see how the seminar helped my students understand the theme a bit better. I was really impressed with the conversations my students had and the understandings that were created today.