Uploaded by Irina Lyons

Socratic Seminar revised

Where questions, not answers, are the
driving force in thinking.
What does Socratic mean?
Socratic comes from the name
a classical Greek philosopher who developed a
Theory of Knowledge:
the surest way to attain reliable knowledge was
through the practice of disciplined
Dialectic means…
the art or practice of
examining opinions or ideas logically,
often by the method of
Question and Answer
so as to determine their validity.
How did Socrates use the dialectic?
He would begin with a discussion of the
obvious aspects of any
feign ignorance about a subject,
and try to draw out from the other person
his fullest possible knowledge about it.
What is a Socratic Seminar?
*a method used to understand information
by creating dialectic in class regarding a
specific text.
Participants seek deeper understanding of
complex ideas in text through rigorous
thoughtful dialogue, rather than by
memorizing bits of information.
The Text:
*richness in ideas, issues, values and their
ability to stimulate dialogue.
A good text raises important
There are no right or wrong answers.
At the end of successful Socratic Seminars,
participants often leave with more
questions than they brought with them.
The Question:
The Socratic Seminar opens with a
posed. Responses to the opening question
generate new
Questions and lead to new responses.
The Participants:
*carry the burden of responsibility for the
quality of the seminar.
There are four ways to do this:
• participating
• Desks arranged in a circle.
• Text given in advance.
• Rules posted.
• Allow 45 minutes.
• Students are ready with an opening question.
• Participants respond with textual evidence for support.
• Participants respond with questions to information they
• Students do not raise hands.
• Reflect and Debrief.
• Accountability through final written piece.
Expectations of Participants:
Did I…..
 Speak loudly and clearly?
 Cite reasons and evidence for my statements?
 Use the text to find support?
 Listen to others respectfully?
 Stick with the subject?
 Talk to others, not just to the leader?
 Paraphrase accurately?
 Avoid inappropriate language?
 Ask questions to clear up confusion?
 Support others?
 Avoid hostile exchanges?
 Question others in a civil manner?
 Seem prepared?
• Seminars usually last approximately 45 minutes.
• Questions: open-ended, lead to further
questions, open-core-closing, no right or wrong
answer (unless it’s a text-based question/answer)
• Text Support
• Discussion not Debate!
Benefits include:
• Time to engage in in-depth
problem solving, and
clarification of ideas
• Building a strong, collaborative work
• Enhanced knowledge and research base
• Increased success for all students
• Teaching respect for diverse ideas,
people, and practices
•Creating a positive learning
environment for all students
 Dialogue is "an interchange of ideas especially
when open and frank and seeking mutual
 It is a collective inquiry in which we
suspend opinions, share openly, and
think creatively about difficult issues.
Effective groups need to use both
dialogue and discussion
• Is oppositional
• One listens to
counter arguments.
• Affirms participant's
points of view.
• Defends
assumptions as
• Creates a closeminded attitude
 Is collaborative
 One listens to find
common ground
 Enlarges points of view
 Reveals assumptions
for re-evaluation
 Creates an openminded attitude
• Defends thinking to show
that it is right.
• Calls for investing in
one's beliefs.
• One searches for
• Rebuts contrary
positions and may
belittle others
• Debate assumes a single
right answer
• Demands a conclusion
 Expects other’s reflections will
improve their own thinking
Temporarily suspending one's
Searches for strengths
Respects others and seeks not
to alienate
Assumes that cooperation can
lead to greater understanding
Remains open-ended
 There are three
levels of
 You should come
up with a
minimum of 2
questions per
 Knowledge means being able to show
understanding by talking, writing, signing,
Please use the following stems in creating your
Knowledge Questions:
Can you state, in your own words?
Can you describe?
Can you defend your position?
Can you summarize the information?
1. Whom does Romeo kill?
2. When is the story set?
Application means supporting your ideas with evidence.
Please use the following stems in creating your Application
Explain how …
Explain why …
Interpret the reasons …
Compare and contrast …
Connect and explain …
1. Why does George continue to care for Lennie?
2. How does O’Brien convey his attitude toward the war?
Synthesis means combining or connecting two different
In terms of the Socratic Seminar you will be connecting two
texts with each other OR connecting a text to the outside
1. How is Frankenstein similar to modern problems?
2. In what ways are the Plague and Blindness similar?
Please use the following stems in creating your
Synthesis Questions:
Imagine …
What would happen if …?
Hypothesize …
Theorize …
How is Text similar to Outside World?
 The classroom will be arranged in a two concentric
 You will be assigned to either seminar A or seminar B.
 You will be assigned a partner in the opposite
If I am in seminar A my partner will be in seminar B
Ms. Earhart will be facilitating, but NOT participating
in the seminar.
If I am in Seminar B, I will be sitting in the
outside circle taking notes for my partner
who is in the inner circle participating in the
Seminar A.
Then we will switch. I will participate in the
seminar and my partner will take notes for
We will be switching notes at the end of each
seminar to be used for Step 5 of the
Socratic Seminar Prep Sheet.
 The seminar is to serve as a discussion,
not a lecture. Just like in a casual
conversation, no one begins the
conversation, a conversation begins
 Please listen and look at each other when you
 One person speaks at a time.
 Each person will have a chance to ask a question.
 Respond to the person who asks the question.
 Use evidence from the text to support yourself.
 Always treat each other with mutual respect.
 Socratic Seminar 1
By completing the seminar prep sheet. (30
By contributing to the conversation following
these guidelines:
- Ask a question.
Respond to a question.
Cite evidence from the text.
All three requirements:
Two requirements:
1 requirement:
No requirements:
30 points.
20 points.
10 points.
0 points.
The last 5 - 10 minutes of class on the day of a
Please complete step 5 of the prep sheet using
your notes from your partner as a reference. Please
put your and your partner’s sheets together.
Write 3 questions & answers based on the poem for each
type of question:
 Factual (Knowledge)- answers are verifiable – who, what,
when, where, how? (write p. # & importance)
 Inductive (Application)– why, how, so what? (provide
ex’s & importance)
 Synthesis (Analytical) – connects to other texts, ideas, or
situations; how is X similar to Y? What does X tell us
about Z? (provide ex’s & importance)
 We will now
practice a Socratic
 We will stop at
times so I can
explain, redirect,
encourage, or
provide guidance.
 We will have a Q
and A session after
the fishbowl.
 I need 6 volunteers, 3 for
the inner circle, 3 for the
 Everyone else needs to
pay attention, take notes
if you’d like, and be a
good, active audience
 I will elucidate my
expectations for the
seminar so you know
what to do and how to
get a good grade.