Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Socratic Seminar

Yesterday, we attempted to do our first Socratic Seminar in IB English 3.

The students told me they had never done a seminar before, so this was a big deal, and something I was worried about. Seminar is a pretty essential piece of an IB English classroom, because its roots in self-discovery and questioning align well with the IB Program's goals of independent thought and inquiry. I've rarely been totally satisfied with the experience as a teacher, though; there always seems to be something that's missing.

And, I admit that I had trepidations about this group doing a Socratic Seminar, as well, especially after they had told me they had never done one. We about halfway through Allende's The House of the Spirits, though, and it certainly was time to start talking about this strange and wonderful book.

I was pleasantly surprised in the kids' discussion, though: lots of insightful comments.

The issues were as follows:

* A few kids dominating the discussion.

* Lapses into street talk.

* No contextualization of the quotes used.

Still, not bad for the first time. In fact, I think it was a pretty darn successful lesson, one that could have been much better if the classes were a bit longer (I miss the 90-minute block schedule, especially on days like these).

I used Huff English's Socratic Seminar guide to help set up mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a strategy i use for the issue of kids dominating the conversation.

- I usually tally each time a student talks. Add them up, and divide them by the total number of students. I then give kids a part of their grade based on whether or not they contributed enough, too much, or not enough. I, of course, explain why dominating a conversation is a negative thing. Kids are often surprised to lose credit for participating, but they get the bigger picture and learn how to be a better team player.