Socratic Seminar Primer by wilsonsbiologylab


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									Socratic Seminar Primer
Definition of Socratic Seminars A Socratic Seminar is a scholarly discussion of an essential question in which student opinions are shared, proven, refuted, and refined through dialogue with other students. In classes of more than fifteen students, the fishbowl format for Socratic seminars should be used. In this format, the teacher or seminar leader facilitates the discussion. Only half the class, seated in an inner circle, participates in the discussion at one time. The other half of the class, seated in an outer circle, consists of the students who act as observers by completing certain tasks. Purpose of Socratic Seminars In a Socratic Seminar, participants seek to answer an essential question and gain deeper understanding of laws, ideas, issues, values, and/or principles presented in a text or texts through rigorous and thoughtful dialogue The Essential Question

“An opening question has no right answer; instead it reflects a genuine curiosity on the part of the leader. An effective opening question leads participants back to the text as they speculate, evaluate, define, and clarify the issues involved. Responses to the opening question generate new questions from the leader and participants, leading to new responses.”

Rules and Roles for Socratic Seminars
The Participants: May only participate in the discussion if they have read the selection. Must support their opinions with evidence from the text. May speak at any time, without raising hands, during the seminar with respect for the other participants. May ask relevant questions of other participants. [May build on each other’s comments and/or disagree with them. Listen closely. Speak loud enough for everyone to hear you. Speak to each other, not just the facilitator. Invite and allow other discussion members to speak Consider all viewpoints.

The Observers: Must evaluate the discussion by completing the task given to them Must provide oral and written feedback after the seminar May not speak or communicate with anyone during the seminar

The Facilitator: Can only ask questions; cannot state his or her opinions or interpretations Must require participants to support their opinions with evidence from the text Must encourage particular members to participate if they have been silent Discussion (Inner Circle) Questions What are the assumptions (explicit or underlying) of this text? Is it self-contradictory to state ________ in one part of the text and ________ in another part? What if ________ happened (or were true) instead of ________? What would you do (or say) if you were ________? (Put the discussion member into the action.) What might be some other good title for this? Here is a question: ________________________________? What does the text say about this issue? What do you think about it? Does the test agree or disagree with this statement: ________________? In what way would ________ change, if ________ happened differently? Dennis Gray, Consultant of Diego Socratic Seminars

More inner circle questions Should the government ban (or support, pass a law to) ________? Who are the major stakeholders in this issue? What are their perspectives? What are your reactions to this text? Was the article written from a balanced perspective? How do you know? If not, then what would need to be changed to make this piece more balanced?

In lines ________, what does the author mean by “_________________?” [What argument is presented here? Is it a valid argument? Do you agree with the statement? What is the importance of this quote?]

Observer (Outer Circle) Tasks How many times did the boys speak? How many times did the girls speak? Keep a tally. Keep a tally of how many times each person spoke. Did one or a few members dominate the seminar? How many times did a student interrupt another student? How many times did a student build on another student’s comment? How many times did a student ask a question of another student? How many times did the discussion members refer specifically to the text? How many times did discussion members disagree with each other? Did the discussion mainly focus on one topic or several topics? Keep track of the main topics. Did it seem that the discussion members were paying attention to each other? How do you know? Recall one time that discussion members disagreed with each other. What happened? How did they handle the situation? Observe a discussion member. Write down everything this discussion member did during the discussion. What did you learn from the discussion? If you could have made a comment during the discussion, what comment would you have made? If you could have asked a question during the discussion, what question would you have asked? Hassan Wilson of Wilson’s Biology Lab

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