Socratic Seminar Pre-Seminar Question Writing: Close-Ended Question: Write a question about the text that will help everyone come to an agreement about events or characters in the text. This question usually has a “correct” answer. You can answer the question by looking one place in the text. These are literal questions. Tasks: Complete, Match, Name, Observe, Define, Describe, Identify, List, Recite, Select, Scan Example: What happened to Hester Prynne’s husband so that she was left alone in Boston without a family? (Based on The Scarlet Letter). Open-Ended Question: Write an insightful question about the text that will require proof and group discussion and “construction of logic” to discover or explore the answer to the question. These questions can be both literal and abstract. These questions require people to look many places in the text in order to construct an answer. Tasks: Compare, Contrast, Classify, Sort, Distinguish, Explain, Infer, Sequence, Analyze, Synthesize, Make Analogies, Reason Example: Why did Huck Finn decide to destroy the letter he wrote to turn in Jim at the conclusion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? And how did this signal a change in both characters? World Connection Question: Write a question connecting the text to the real world. Example: If you were given only 24 hours to pack your most precious belongings in a back pack and to get ready to leave your home town, what might you pack and why? (Based on Night). Universal Theme/Core Question: Write a question dealing with a theme(s) of the text that will encourage a group discussion about the universality of the text. OOOh, here is thing two, abstract…but still based on the literal, concrete details of the text. Starters: Evaluate, Generalize, Imagine, Judge, Predict, Speculate, If/Then, Apply a principle, Hypothesize, Forecast, Idealize. Example: In what way is the wind in Didion’s “The Santa Ana” a metaphor for the human condition? After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, what are the elements of the literature that make it romantic as opposed to realistic? Style Question: Write a question dealing with HOW an author chose to compose a literary piece. How did the author manipulate point of view, characterization, poetic form, archetypal hero patterns? What rhetorical devices, syntax, or methods of development and organization was used? Example: In “On WW II” how does the author use narrative distance to convey his view of patriotism? Guidelines for Participants in a Socratic Seminar: Socratic Seminar 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Refer to the text when needed during the discussion. It’s OK to “pass” when asked to contribute. Do not stay confused; ask for clarification. Stick to the point currently under discussion; make notes about ideas you want to come back to. Don’t raise hands; take turns speaking. Do not dominate the discussion; call on others for their opinion. Listen carefully Speak up so that all can hear you. Discuss ideas rather than each other’s opinions. You are responsible for the seminar. Socratic Seminar is characterized by: suspending judgment examining our own work without defensiveness exposing our reasoning and looking for limits to it communicating our underlying assumptions exploring viewpoints more broadly and deeply being open to disconfirming data approaching someone who sees a problem differently not as an adversary, but as a colleague in common pursuit of a better solution.