Now that the students have read and performed the play, I want to see if they actually got something out of what they read. Not only do I want the kids to be able to discuss the issues presented in "A Lesson in Courage," but I also want them to start having conversations about the author's choices- How did the elements of drama enhance this reading? If the author wrote this as a simple cause and effect structure, would it have made as much of an impact on you?
I've heard a few thoughts about the speaking and listening standards being low priority because "they're not tested." I couldn't disagree more. First of all, there are parts of these standards tested, but most importantly, I don't teach my kids to master tests. My socratic seminars are life skills. This is what I do when I read now. If I want to be able to discuss an article I read in a way that lets my voice actually be heard, I have to practice and learn how to do that. Also, we want our kids to be prepared for STEM thinking. Well, that's not possible if kids don't know how to actually verbalize a thought and listen to the thoughts and ideas of others. Seminar is, by far, one of the best times in my class. They're excited to come to the circle, they share profound thoughts and come to conclusions with the help of each other instead of with my assistance, and they learn how to have polite conversations and disagreements.
Before the kids actually sit down and chat, I want them to look over the whole piece once more and read all of the parts. I'll show them some of my guiding questions and allow them time to mark in the text to prepare for the discussion. The discussion can go in other directions, but I always like to have places for the kiddos to start.
After reading over some of our focus questions for socratic seminar, I'd like you to reread the text to prepare for discussion. This won't take you too long since you already know the story pretty well, but I want you to take some notes as you read, so you can be a little faster referring to the text during discussion today.
My first 15 volunteers for the inner circle may take your seats. Partners find a spot behind them and get your observation sheets ready. We'll be discussing some of the questions you used today as you reviewed.
At this point in the year, I expect my students to be able to pull each other into the conversation, avoid dominating the circle, and be able to ask follow up questions for clarification. They have been working in socratic seminar since before Christmas, and they have grown tremendously. This still has not gotten "old" for them and they look forward to this time to simply sit and discuss good texts.