Sunday, April 27, 2014

Socratic Seminar and Deeper Learning

Active dialogue and intellectual discourse is often at the heart of deeper learning.  This week I participated in a Socratic Seminar at University of New Haven.  All of the text reading was completed before the seminar and our instructor provided several key questions for discussion.  The content was on technology use in classrooms.  We read a n extensive survey conducted by the PEW research Center which surveyed Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers about technology use in classrooms and on a personal level.  We read a PBS 2013 survey entitled  Teacher Technology Usage, I viewed an infographic which provided some data  entitled Classroom Tech- Ed Tech Trends: What Teachers Really Think.  We also read Five Ways Teachers Can Use Technology to Help Students.  Each of these documents provided the contextual background needed for a substantive conversation.

We actually had two seminars.  In the first seminar I was a participant and for the second seminar I was an observer.  We provided feedback to each participant using a Socratic Seminar Rubric.  The discussions were deep and informed by our texts.  It was interesting to note that both groups choose to skip over a question involving Common Core.  Perhaps with the State Pilot occurring at this time many of us wanted a break from the topic.  We noted that there are distinct trends in technology usage based on the age of the teacher.  We discussed gaming in classes, differences in accessibility to technology and the many benefits technology can offer.

Socratic Seminar is a very effective way to conduct deep conversations which probe into the deeper understanding of concepts.  Our school is a Classical Studies Magnet School.  To learn more about how we use socratic seminar in our classrooms visit our school web site at . We are partners with .  Here is a quick video sample of  student to student discourse .  The Paideia Center also provides Paideia Seminar Lesson Plans which are very thorough and free to use.  Our students as young as kindergarten participate in seminars.  Out seminar texts are not always documents.  For example we may use a ruler or a coin as the "primary source" of our discussions.  The Socratic Seminar is one way to put the ownership and responsibility for learning in the hands of learners.  It is also a form of assessment by the very nature of  its structure.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your insights into the value of Socratic Seminars and for guiding me to the Paideia site. I agree that it was interesting that both groups avoided the CCSS question. It says a lot about how the most informed educators view them.
    Have a great week, Laura