Practices at Work: Socratic Seminars

Practices at Work: Socratic Seminars

Practices at Work are articles from Fairfax County Public Schools Instructional Service Department.


Strategies in Action — Daina Lieberman, South Lakes High School

Socratic Seminars are one of my favorite strategies in the classroom. They can function as formative or summative assessments, depending how and when they are used. They are student centered and can benefit students at all levels. Prompts can relate to the text we are using or focus on themes we plan to examine in an upcoming text. I can pass out questions during the previous day’s class and ask students to take notes in preparation for homework, or I can pass out questions that period and give them time to prepare.

One way I differentiate is by creating groups of questions at varying levels of difficulty and assigning students to appropriate groups. Many of my students are very verbal but have trouble expressing themselves in writing. Seminars give them a chance to process through their thinking before writing. Often, students who are quiet or don’t volunteer much in class allow me to see their analytical abilities during these discussions.

Watch the Best Practices For Teaching and Learning Video Collection on the Fairfax Network YouTube Channel. 

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