Socratic Seminar Resources

A couple of teachers used some of Sandy Juniper’s resources (I believe) to run Socratic seminars in classes.  I have tried to gather some of the resources here for you to use in your own classrooms should you choose to do so.  The basic idea for this version is that students come prepared having read and annotated a text, then they participate in an “inner circle” and “outer circle” role throughout the class period. Here is a picture of the set up.  The black stool is the “hot seat” where students can choose to enter the circle to be part of the discussion temporarily.

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The inner circle is made of a discussion group.  The outer circle keeps track of the conversation through hard copies of discussion guides.  Here is one student’s example.

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Here is an example of Melissa’s scoring.

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In the two versions I saw, the teacher chose the questions, but Kristina Claytor has her students write their own questions before they discuss.  Also, Sam Bosse ran his seminar as one large group, and he was the only one who recorded the speaking of each member so they all could participate.

This video shows a ninth grade class that is struggling with Socratic seminar.  It has some really interesting ideas when it comes to students coaching one another.  It also addresses the idea of “wait time” so that students can have ownership of the process.  The seminar topic is the importance of poetic language which addresses a CCS.  On the website with this video, there is also a handout that the teacher used beforehand to prep students for this discussion.

Here is a video about a controversial topic with resources provided for teachers in the bottom right.  It addresses the use of the “n-word” in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  In this version, there are specific “roles” students play, in addition to coaching one other student.

Here is one last video that focuses on more of a “debate style” and students “tap one another out” to get new people in the story.  This teacher gives points for using models of “respectful language” to encourage civil discussion.

Here are the actual resources used by teachers:

  • Intro to Socratic Seminar includes the historical context of Socrates and his value and contributions to our modern society.  It is a great introductory resource for teachers and students as it outlines types of comments for discussion and includes learning goals, both of which seem helpful starting out.
  • Socratic scoring can be used by teachers and peers to evaluate students.  One teacher said they only have students record the “types of comments” and not “connections” or else it is too much.
  • If you want the actual questions used to compare Fahrenheit 451  and Into the Wild, please email Sam Bosse for access to his Prezi.
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