Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Socrative Seminar

Imagine living in 440 BC and you are gathered with a group of disciples to discuss life under the guidance of Socrates. Socrates asked questions to lure his students into conversation and  discussion in order to get to the root of an issue. This is how knowledge was uncovered and understanding was gained by his students. This method of discussion can be very engaging for students today.

This week I had the opportunity to sit in on my first Socratic seminar. I along with 7 of my ED7726 Teaching,Learning, and Assessing in the Digital Era classmates participated.  We formed 2 groups of 4.  Four in the center circle faced each other, the other 4 sat outside the circle to listen, take notes, and assess the discussion based on a rubric provided to us by our professor, Laura Greenstein.  

The questions to be discussed were in an envelope. They were based on readings we had been assigned. Included were student generated questions.  The readings were about the various dispositions towards technology usage and technology integration in the classroom. Included were statistics from the Pew Center,  resources about effective technology integration, and information about opportunities to improve education.  We pulled a question out of the envelope and read it aloud. We each took turns once around answering the question and referencing the reading materials.  The discussion ensued.   We all agreed as educators in the 21st century we need to embrace technology to make education meaningful and relevant to our students.   We discussed how we can support and encourage teachers to use technology in their lessons. We discussed assessment and how we could utilize technology in assessment.

I consider the Socratic seminar an excellent learning and assessment activity. As we answered questions, we began discussions, and knowledge and understanding about the topic surfaced. I learned from my classmates’ comments and ideas. I believe by including student generated questions our student’s curiosity and desire to explore can also be satisfied.  The Socratic seminar was also an opportunity to assess our knowledge and understanding of the reading materials.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the Socratic seminar activity.  It was an interesting and a novel way to conduct a discussion and assess for student understanding.  Our professor reviewed the rubric prior to starting the activity.  This was very helpful because we knew what her expectations were and what we were being graded on. Some of the questions used in the activity were actually student generated questions that our professor requested prior to the seminar.  The Socratic seminar can be used by upper elementary grades and up.

Prior to the Socratic seminar, our professor instructed to review this Youtube video that shows students participating in a Socratic seminar. I too recommend that you watch the video to get a feel of the process. I would show anyone planning on participating in a Socratic seminar.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fine synthesis of the process and value of the Socratic Seminar. It's wondrous that 2400+ years after Socrates this low tech strategy is still effective. Have a great week,