Friday, November 22, 2013

A Socratic Seminar Success

As we wrapped up our study of The Hunger Games, my sophomore team agreed to conclude the unit with a socratic seminar.  I had done a quick version of it during our poetry unit last April, but with the team's help, we crafted a truly unique, challenging, and rewarding experience for the students.

The original seminar was inspired by Esther Wu's seminar "The N-Word" on Teaching Channel.  Take a look below to be inspired yourself!

I love using Teaching Channels videos to inspire my own teaching!  I never would have thought to use a list of transitions as Esther did.  We used, tweaked, and modified her resources, and our version can be found here:

Socratic Seminar:  The Hunger Games
The Seminar Packet
The Coaching Protocol
The Listening Roles

Holding your own Socratic Seminar!
Plan two periods to prep the students, two days to conduct the seminar, and one half-period for reflection.
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The speakers are seated at a central table while coaches sit behind their protege.   One student is at the front of the room taking notes in the Big Board role (as developed by Esther Wu).
On the prep days, we focused on teaching transitions and building an arsenal of textual evidence for the questions that students felt passionate about.  We took our time going through each of the questions so that the students could highlight the 3-4 that they wanted to tackle right out of the gates on their day for the seminar.

On the days of the seminar, the students were broken into two groups:  SPEAKER & LISTENER.  On the first day, they did one role, and on the second, they switched.

Students sit in the back of the room in their Evaluator roles (transition tracker, comment counter, general evaluator, etc.)  I sat next to them taking notes and grading the discussion.
On the day following the last seminar, be sure to provide time for reflection.  This day was so rich for my students!  I asked them four simple reflection questions, had them answer at their desks, and then we created a graffiti wall of responses, memories, shout-outs, and highlights from the socratic seminar experience.

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