Sunday, September 20, 2015

Socratic Seminar with Tap-Ins and This Is Your Blog

Excellence in Education: Socratic Seminar with Tap-Ins
Earlier this week, I observed Mr. Rooks’s freshman geography students conduct a Socratic Seminar. Surprisingly, many of them had never--meaning in elementary or middle school--had never participated in one before.

Why it’s valuable:
  1. It promotes student thinking and discovery
  2. Higher-level thinking skills are required/acquired as students listen, debate, and use evidence
  3. It prepares students for life beyond the classroom as they have to discuss and “argue”

How’s it work?
Socratic seminars can take many different forms but the fundamentals associated with the Fishbowl Socratic Seminar as a follows:
  1. Teacher selects a topic that promotes discussion. This could be from a literary work, an historical event, a pro-con topic, etc. The only requirement is that the subject is rich with possibilities for many points of view.
  2. Open-ended questions that elicit differing perspective and complex thinking are developed. Mr. Rooks developed these questions and chose a student to facilitate the discussion, but with time the questions could be student-generated.
  3. Student prepare for the seminar. This could be accomplished in a variety of ways depending on student ability, the topic, etc. During this stage, it’s important to check-in with students who might need help. It’s also a great time to prompt students who might be shy and non-participatory. For example, as a teacher you might visit an introverted student and pose a question, listen to his answer and state, “Great answer! When that question is asked during the seminar, I would love for you to share that with the group.”
  4. Review and discuss the norms and expectations. If it’s your first time doing a Socratic Seminar with your students, you can use the Socratic Seminar format to discuss these and have the students set the norms.
  5. The seminar begins with students in the inner circle  and students on the outside. Only students in the inner circle may participate as students on the outside have to observe and listen.
  6. Outer circle members are allowed to “tap into” the inner circle to participate in the discussion, as long as they tap an inner circle member who has already spoken.
  7. The discussion becomes fluid with people moving from the outside to the inside.
  8. A debriefing and reflective process is used to encourage reflection and metacognition.

This is YOUR Blog
I’m sure some of what I’ll write about in this blog will sometimes agitate you. I’m a strong believer that discourse only strengthens our ability to educate. If disagree with something you read, please let me know. I’d love to include your opinions in a future blog!

How else is this YOUR blog?
If you have an Excellence in Education idea, whether it’s something that you do or something that you’ve seen or read, I’d love to invite you as a guest author. One of the things that makes education and educators unique, is that we’re not in competition with others, and we all benefit from sharing and learning from others.

If you have someone you would like to include in the Weekly Shout Out, please send me an email.

Weekly Shout Out
Great job by our counselors at organizing our College Readiness night. It was the best attended one yet and the parent feedback indicated it was extremely helpful. Thanks as well to all the teachers who manned a table and represented their alma mater: Molli Campbell, Veronica Price-Thomas, Geoff Parks, Shannon Deegan, Sarah Orme, Albert Jacoby, and John Baran.

Need To Knows
Please be mindful that we’re working diligently to cut down on hallway traffic at all times of day, especially Mustang Morning. If you draft or request a student, or a student is in your room for whatever reason, please keep him/her with you for the ENTIRE Mustang Morning.

If you’re interested in leading a session at next week’s PD Day, please let Ashby know today.

If you haven’t watched the video on SBIT (special education, RTI, and 504s), please do so . We’re working hard to improve our SBIT process and to better serve the needs of all of our students. If you’re interested in participating on the SBIT team (would mean a minimum commitment of “sacrificing” one planning period per month), we’d love to have you join the team.

Positive Referral Link :

Shameless plug: I’m co- host/moderator of #vachat, a twitter chat every Monday at 8pm. It’s a twitter chat for Virginia--and non-Virginia--educators. We’d love to have you with us. Tonight’s topic: Mastery Learning.

Calendar Items
September 24-25: Underclassman Pictures

September 24: Homecoming Voting

September 28: Professional Development Day
October 1 (4:30-7): Parent Conferences

Sorry, if you had a late August or early September Birthday and I missed you.
Deleanna Eddy: Sept 20
Madeline Michel: Sept 20
Carolyn Ramwell: Sept 24
Janet Whitmore: Sept 24

Worth Your Time
Why are They Disengaged? My Students Told Me. This blog article goes extremely well as a follow-up to our student panel discussion. Pernille Ripp is a great educator and her blog is worth reading. Follow her on twitter @pernilleripp

Growth Mindset: Telling Penguins to Flap Harder

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