Socratic Seminar Strategies for the Sixth Grade Classroom

Socratic Seminar Strategies for the Sixth Grade Classroom


♪[theme music]>>student 1: The most thing that
Byron showed courage was family.>>student 2: Probably that-that was his weak spot: family.
>>students: Yeah.>>student 3: Exactly, like.
>>student 4: But he always says he doesn’t care about them.>>student 3: But the truth is he does, he does care about them.>>student 4: Probably when he said he was
grown up, that’s why he’s acting like that.>>student 3: Yeah like teenagers
you know that-that they don’t care if you give them the punishment.
Like they just don’t care.>>student 5: That’s why they’re
sending him to Birmingham.>>student 3: It don’t hurt them.
>>student 2: But the grandma.>>student 6: He just really
cares about his family, Byron.>>student 3: But he doesn’t want to
show it because he thinks he’s cool.>>student 2: Since he’s called Daddy
Cool, he doesn’t want to show Bobhead that he cares about his family.
Maybe that’s why.>>teacher: The way I see
a Socratic seminar is that students are discussing a topic.
It allows them to go in depth and to really discuss some of those um
inner workings of the text that they might not when they’re just being
asked comprehension questions. It gives the students a chance to
discuss with one another, to build on each other’s ideas and I think most importantly, it shows them what an
academic discussion is versus a fight or uh an argument, how they are
used to arguing with each other. All my students are ELD. Right now about two-thirds of my class
has been reclassified. The other third I have like two beginning students
and then the other ones are around intermediate level. I have about 4
or 5 GATE students in the class as of now. I think this is going to be, uh a great way for students to be able
to discuss with each-with each other I know that’s a big part of Common
Core, citing textual evidence as well as, uh, how a theme
is conveyed through details in a text. And uh my goal for
them to learn was to be able to use textual information in their
discussion to um provide evidence for their claims. We were reading the
novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 and that’s actually a text that I
just chose because it was so rich um and many other things. It
has history and then just the themes overall the kids can really
relate and they love the book. We’ve been working with this book
for I would say about two months and the Socratic Seminars
I use randomly throughout depending on what the topic is. If the
students are very excited and I can see that they have questions
and they’re starting to question things, then I we stop
and we do a Socratic Seminar because they already want to discuss
and that makes them more engaged and more apt to go on with the
discussion and have a lot to say. What I’d like to do like they
say, why reinvent the wheel? So if I’m-if I pick a
book I try to look for a teacher’s guide that
they might have online. So I found a good guide and all it has
is a list of comprehension questions. And I use those to give me an
idea so if it’s a question that’s related to a-a good topic that I know
it will grab my students right away, I just change it a little bit. So
I think the question for this one was just uh, how does
Kenny display courage? So I thought, that well
that was really good, but that’s not really
necessarily great for a discussion because it has to be-there
has to be differing opinions and that was just going to be really
just one right answer. So I changed it and said which
character shows most courage because even they picked up on, well she has too,
she shows courage, he shows courage. so that allowed conversation. Okay, does everybody know where they think they’re
going to put their sticky?>>students: Yes.>>teacher: Okay, so I’m going to give you thirty seconds to go up there and put
it in the place you believe it goes. One thing that I hadn’t done
before that I decided to this this time was an anticipation
sorta question for them. What do you think now, from just yourself,
what you’ve read and what you thought, and that’s where they had their sticky.
And they put which character they thought showed the most courage. Then after that, I had
already pick their partners, who they would be listening
to and who would be in the inner circle
or the outer circle. I had a mix of students. They weren’t
all the high students in the circle. Some were shyer students and
some are students that maybe are better at expressing
than writing down. Also we’re talking about the theme courage.
Remember that. Which character shows the most courage and
give examples from the text. My goal this time also is to hear you guys asking each other
questions as well. You heard that that’s one of the things on the rubric. So if somebody says something and you
don’t agree, you can ask him a question because then I’m going to step back and you
guys are in charge of the conversation. You guys decide. I’m out. Go
ahead, start conversation I think one tip would be,
especially when you’re beginning, to just, ah, let it flow. Let the kids talk. I know even this time I had to
wait a little while for the kids to start it and I really wanted to just tell them something and prompt them myself.
But I-I held back and I waited and they did it themselves. It was
very slow to begin, but then it just it went. So I think
patience is number one. [silence]>>student 1: Kenny has to deal with his
fears in order to survive the whirlpool.>>teacher: The kids will get there the first 2-3 times might not go
so well, but they will get there.>>student 1: Kenny mentioned he got
hypnotized when they were about to burn him.>>student 2: And then I also think
he is caring about the family since Bobhead is not
there and he knows that Bobhead doesn’t know.>>student 3: So he can’t-so Bobhead
can’t use his weakness against him.>>student 2: Yes, exactly.
>>student 4: Bobhead is not a real friend.>>student 4: But what
about his up right there?>>student 2: Another person with
Bobhead, and he is with his family.>>student 4: And maybe because
the grandma is there or maybe he’ll follow the grandma
like he-he’ll be nice.>>student 2: But Byron is acting like
that because…Bobhead is not there.>>student 4: But if Bobhead comes and
visits him there with his grandma, then maybe he will still be
nice because his grandma’s there and he is scared
of the grandma.>>student 5: No, I don’t think so because,
look it, he did that with his parents still.>>student 4: I know but he’s not afraid of
his parents, he’s afraid of the grandma.>>student 3: Then why do you
think he got hypnotized when he was about to
burn his fingers?>>student 4: Because he
was about to burn…>>student 3: Because he was scared.>>teacher: At first I was uh facilitating a
a lot more. So I was having the students I was asking more questions to get them
talking because they did have a lot of quiet periods, and I
would start it for them. I might directly ask the student a
question verses waiting for them to ask each other or to start a discussion.
The students on the outside circle they have a rubric. So their role is to
listen to their assigned partner that’s inside the circle. And while they’re listening they’re
checking of the different parts um, of that standard which is the speaking
and collaborative discuss-participating and collaborative discussions. What I’ve been doing and what I
try to do is take notes on my own of some other things that
students say, their participation is I think what’s most of the grade, and
what they’re doing for the outside circle I look at the rubric,
make sure they were listening. So really I think mostly I assess
on speaking and listening. Uh, my goal was to get you guys to ask more
questions, and I heard a lot of questions. I heard a lotta prompting for
some of our shyer students. So that was really good and the fact
that the shyer students talked and didn’t um shun down from that. Vanessa?>>Vanessa: I had another one that maybe Kenny was being brave
because you know how some people when they’re scared they
don’t-they’re afraid do something and he was kicking and-and
kicking the whirlpool.>>student 4: No, he was just
scared that he was going to die.>>student 6: Wouldn’t you ever do that…>>Vanessa: He was showing
a little bit of bravery.>>student 8: A little bit.
But Byron showed more.>>student: But Byron is the most brave.>>student 6: Vanessa, if you were drowning,
wouldn’t you try to swim up to not drown?>>student 1: Anybody would do that.>>student 3: But most people…>>teacher: But once they get
going, they just- I just can’t stop them. uh, as what happened today I tried to
stop it and they just have to keep going. So that-and it’s only the fourth time so
I think it works pretty quickly. They want to talk. The kids are desperate to
discuss and they like this a lot better than just answering questions
on a sheet of paper. Some of you had mom nobody had Dad or Joey.
Now that you’ve had the discussion and you’ve heard evidence
from the text from everybody, I heard you guys trying to reach
a consensus anyway. But um after you guys return to your seats, as
you’re returning and moving your chairs if you need to move yours because you
changed your mind after hearing evidence and discussing it then I would
like you to move yours. ♪[theme music]

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