Common Core

Socratic Seminars: Wrapping it up

If you haven’t read Socratic Seminars: How to Prepare or Socratic Seminars: How to Run One, do that before you read this post! They are helpful resources for anyone interested in getting some ideas in how to increase student-driven dialogue in the classroom.

What happens when the talking stops? 

I like to call this “zipping up the backpack.” This could take the form of a formal written reflection, or it could be a class discussion. I definitely collected their graphic organizers to grade for completion in the note-taking area. I give some feedback, almost all positive, because the kids can generally get more critical of themselves with something they are uncomfortable with. Since the seminar was my summative assessment for my class, I wanted to pull from them all that I could in how the seminar affected their content and process knowledge. Like I said before, the decision to make this summative was made on the fly due to a time constraint. I do not have a solid rubric for this reflection yet—if you have any that you’d like to share, I would love to see it!

Questions to spur reflection: 

-What were the most difficult parts about this seminar? Explain.

-What surprised you about this seminar? Explain.

-How did this seminar stretch your thinking?

-Why is appropriate academic language important?

-Would you call this seminar “fun?” Why/why not?

-What are some real-world applications of Socratic Seminars? (i.e., where could you see yourself using the skill of creating questions, claims, counterclaims, and supporting them with evidence?)

-What can your teacher do to make this seminar run more smoothly next time? Explain.

-What can students do to make this seminar run more smoothly next time? Explain.

Without a doubt, my favorite thing to do is read/hear student reflections. It’s why I assign them so much. They are insightful, honest, and most of the time make me see and feel the success of what we have done together. Metacognition at its finest. I definitely encourage reflection after an activity like this because it reinforces that what we just did as a class is important and is worth our attention.

Want more resources for the Socratic Seminar? Try these:

This is a teacher from Englewood High School, part of my school’s district, who has created a video explaining how he specifically uses Avid (specifically the critical reading process) to prep for the seminar:

-Now give me some reflection! Was this helpful to you as a practitioner? Is there anything you would do differently?



Socratic Seminars: How to Prepare

I posted last year about Socratic Seminars and how I was planning on using them in my classroom. Needless to say, I was apprehensive in doing this because of its somewhat complicated structure and my always-denied but apparent perfectionism and my struggle to avoid it. However, I attended an in-house Avid training by one of our district’s teachers about what the seminar is and how to use it, and I felt pretty comfortable trying it out.

This post is going to be a how-to on how to prepare yourself and your students for a Socratic Seminar! Woo!

Prepare yourself:

1. Decide your end-goal for the S.S. Is it a reflection? Project? In my case, the summative assessment was the actual Socratic Seminar due to time constraints. Students had to demonstrate their learning via participation, the notes they took, and the reflections they wrote. This came out of the graphic organizer that I modified from the Teaching Channel link below.


Education in the News Weekly Roundup July 7-11: Common Core Cat Fights, Obama, and More

State ed boards and lawmakers still butting heads over Common Core 

States all over the US are still grappling with towing the lines of NCLB waivers and adopting new accountability standards—with of course our good ol’ buddy Texas leading the way in blindly kicking and screaming like a baby who thinks you’ve taken his bottle away, only to find out later that you filled it up for him.

A common core supporter sums it up pretty well, with: “I don’t believe they did that because the standards aren’t good…It’s a political pissing match because they were left out. It has nothing to do with educational quality.”

Read entire article here at