Socratic Seminar

“Socratic seminar is a formal discussion, based on a text, in which the leader asks open-ended questions. Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulate their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others.”

Israel, Elfie.  “Examining Multiple Perspectives in Literature.”  In Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions n the English Classroom.  James Holden and John S. Schmit, eds.  Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2002.

Inside and Outside Circles


We will use a backchannel from time to time during our socrative seminars. A backchannel is an digital or online conversation that occurs simultaneous to a face to face discussion or other learning experience. Backchannels are a way of encouraging interaction and reflection while not interrupting the flow of the primary discussion.  This augmented discussion provides a structure for those of you students who may need time to process your thinking but want to contribute to the learning, or it could be a way for those of you who enjoy sharing your ideas but are working on not dominating the conversation. You can contribute to backchannel discussions asynchronously—any time, any where—this gives you and I another means of communication. So lessons are no longer confined to just the day and time when you experience them. Our backchannel is not meant to replace our conversations in class, they improve and extend them!

Daily Reflection

Reflection Form– Fill out your responses on paper or a Google Doc, then cut and paste them into the Reflection Form to submit. Do NOT compose your responses in the form.

Homework Questions:

  1. What did you find interesting? Include specific ideas that stood out from the discussion to you and why. Be specific, citing whose idea it was, and explain your reasoning. How did this discussion deepen your understanding of the story?
  2. What questions do you have? Include specific questions, ideas, issues, concerns that you are still struggling with and why  this is still an issue for you.
  3. How did the discussion go? 
    • Inner Circle: Evaluate your personal, overall participation: how prepared were you? What were your strengths during discussion? Areas of improvement? Be specific.
    • Outer Circle: How do you think the inner circle did? What were the strengths of their discussion? What points were developed well; conversely, what points were dropped? Be specific.