Reflection: Rigor Socratic Seminars: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (2 days) - Section 3: Day 2 Socratic Seminar: Selected Chapters


I continue to be very pleased with the growth in my students that I see in these discussions.  This is a rather philosophical work with stretches that can be slow (I told students that it is kind of like Thoreau’s Walden for me—a great book to read in small doses so you can fully appreciate the philosophy and not get too sleepy with the pages of nature descriptions if you try to read the whole thing in a few days!).   They really picked up on the variety of language devices he uses—particularly sentence length variety and lists for rhetorical effect.  We spent a lot of time talking about the philosophical musings, too, based on the quotes from their logs. 

Within the discussion, one thing I shared with them toward the end of the second day was how every time I read Abbey I’m inspired to write, and that sometimes when I’ve been a writing rut, I’ll read Abbey to get myself going—I just love his combination of descriptions and philosophical observations, and the direct nature of his prose.  I encouraged the students to find that writer for themselves—that it is a great way to get going--to be inspired, and in some ways mimic, a writer they like, and that after a year of studying language, they should have a better appreciation for what that looks like!

Ultimately, these two days have shown not only stronger reading skills, but also stronger speakers and listeners; the students have become more and more comfortable talking to each other about meaningful topics—and more and more often they refer to their notes to offer examples.  And, I’m psyched that they liked Edward Abbey!

  Rigor: Strengthening Discourse Skills
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Socratic Seminars: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (2 days)

Unit 12: Rhetorical Review: Politics and the Environment
Lesson 4 of 5

Objective: SWBAT propel conversations by posing and responding to questions and comments from peers by participating in a Socratic seminar.

Big Idea: Socratic seminars are wonderful for learning what students know and how engaged they are in a book or topic.

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