Dr. Dianna Lindsay's Blog
Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Time: Socratic Seminars an old form Social Networking
In a recent staff development that I conducted at Williamsburg Christian Academy, Williamsburg, Virginia, we explored the power of Socratic Seminars to engage teachers in conversation about the following:
1. Use of higher order questioning in every class: Bloom's and William's Taxonomies
2. The power of rich texts in all content areas: The Great Books and Primary Resources
3. The essentials of student directed classrooms in high school: Flipped Classrooms, Harkness Tables, & Socratic Conversations
4. The meaning of classroom community in high school: Trust, Fellowship, Risk and Rewards
Thinking about a Socratic Seminar as a means of social networking is the core of my presentation. Social networks open up ideas that individuals cannot achieve on their own; this is at the heart of a Socratic Seminar. More than having a conversation directed only by the smartest person in the room, a Socratic Seminar changes the idea of the room; students enter prepared and thus expand the very places they are sitting. While we do not use hashtags in the conversation, we expand the new Socratic Seminars via blogs, searches, YouTube and TeacherTube. Students are reading deeply, prepared to discover what others have to say about the topic, and can ask their interpretative and evaluative questions to a larger audience. The power of a rich text is the invitation to students to expand the conversation beyond the walls of their school. All of this happens only in classrooms where students are prepared to leave their comfort zones and enter safely into stretch zones (never foraying into panic zones). These are classroom of exploration, wonder, enrichment, and growth. Socratic Seminars are exciting, stimulating, thought provoking social networks designed to have students make new meaning!
Recommendations to beginners in Socratic Seminars: (1) visit the website "Socratic Seminars: Williamsburg Christian Academy on YouTube (seminar one and two)" to see an excellent example of freshmen in a seminar they are conducting; (2) teach students how to ask questions by teaching the pedagogy of the taxonomies; (3) select rich texts; and (4) trust that your students want to learn!