In an ideal situation, the teacher would be able to provide consistent, individualized formative feedback to each student multiple times per class period, but this would be nearly impossible for a teacher to do during one fifty minute period. After all, there is one teacher for up to thirty students.
I had the pleasure, however, of seeing how Ali Sberna and Kristina Claytor were able to have students provide this kind of consistent formative feedback to one another during a Socratic Seminar. In the method they used, Socratic Seminar was modeled after the resources provided here, but additionally, they used the supplemental resources (specifically, they showed classes this video) to further differentiate the seminar.
They used the concentric circle arrangement, but instead of having all students keep track of everything that was said in a discussion, each pupil was given a rubric and note taking sheet to track one individual sitting directly in front of them from the inner circle. In addition, the seminar had “quarters,” and at the end of each quarter, the student met with his or her coach to see what skills they mastered on the rubric, where they still needed to grow, and what they could do to improve for the next quarter of the seminar.
In addition, Sberna and Claytor also had students who were not partnered fulfill the following roles:
- Quote Tracker (writing down text-based quotes used in the conversation)
- Transition Tracker (writing down transitional phrases from the conversation; EX: “I agree with…”)
- Tally Manager (keeping track of who speaks on the white board for everyone to see)
- “Big Idea” Manager (keeping track of “concepts” in the conversation on the white board for everyone to see)
During quarterly breaks, each of these roles shared out the findings and gave suggestions for how to improve in the quarters that followed.
Although all of this sounds like a lot of preparation, after speaking with the teachers, I found out that they took only one day to introduce the entire seminar concept. I was there on the first of the two-day seminar, and students seemed to “get it.” Although there were elements they were still learning to integrate (like using text evidence), they were able to provide insightful feedback to one another during the quarterly breaks.
In accordance with some of the other posts this week, this is one example where teachers are finding new ways to bring students into to the “center of the classroom.”
Here are some resources Sberna and Claytor used:
Previously mentioned, Susan Turley gave a diagnostic assignment in which students were asked to present about a theme in Lord of the Flies in small groups. These presentations were to gauge students current levels in a variety of areas including: writing, speaking and listening and analysis of literary and non-fiction texts.
After the presentations, Turley gave each of the students a copy of the CCS for grade bands 11 and 12. Students then sat down with their group members, combing through the standards and assessing the presentations to see which standards they had addressed, missed or mastered. They used the following scale to mark next to the standard:
- + : Mastery
- check mark : Did it
- check mark – : Tried it
- – : Not addressed
After students had discussed the standards in groups, the designated “project leader” sat in the inside of the two concentric circles of chairs in the classroom. They were asked to share a “mastery level” standard and discuss “what they felt they had done well” to capture evidence of this standard. They were also asked “Why they felt they had done this well.” Afterward, they were prompted to share, “Where they felt they fell short.” Turley reviewed her notes as students shared and gave her feedback. She also asked prompting questions to the other students such as:
- What do you all think?
- Does anyone disagree?
Ultimately, Susan asked the group what grade they would give themselves on the project for the final outcome, stressing the fact that this information was to explore their own reflection and not utilized by her to determine a final grade.