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HIgher Level Thinking...At It's Best!

     I have been "absent" for awhile from this little blog.  I took a vacation from lots of things this year...unless they were "have to do's" (i.e., home, family, work).  I think doing a masters program while working full time, houseful of teenagers, and just being wife/mom/teacher made me VERY tired.  Not complaining.  I love my life!  I was really busy, but now I am ready to look at my hobbies again - this blog being one of them.
     After looking back over this year, I want to focus my next few posts on my favorite topics and lessons this year.
Today's post: Socratic Seminar.
     I've posted about it before.  I now have my first full year of using the Socratic method under my belt.  I started last year, but we didn't work as diligently as we have this year.  My kids HAVE IT DOWN this year.

I break it down into two pieces:
     My part:  find an amazing story that is available for them to also read (not just be read to.)  I try to find one that has high interest as well as deeper ideas such as a multi-cultural theme.  One of my favorites is Amazing Grace (Mary Hoffman).  We also had an amazing time with Freedom Summer (Deborah Wiles).  Read the story so that the kids are deeply familiar with the details and have developed some ideas and opinions about the book.  I make an effort not to discuss the intricacies of the book so that we can spend that time in the seminar.  However, reading and then re-reading (and even again) over a period of several days will allow you to create the best possible discussion.
     Create questions that take your students to the top of Bloom's.  Take a look at the image here if you don't have one handy!

     Familiarize the students with the norms (see product below or {HERE}) for a Socratic Seminar.  Use some video links provided in the product I created as well as just look on youtube to find things to show the students.  Actually, I find more videos with kids older than my third graders. I don't see too many third grade classes holding Socratic Seminars; it is usually used at the junior high/high school levels.  It is perfectly adaptable to primary grades if the children know the purpose and understand the norms.  It is imperative that the students know the story.
  The students' part:  Listen to the story and/or read the story, and use their own inference skills to form ideas and opinions about the story.  Participate in the seminar by following the norms.  Learn how to speak and think deeply about the story. Explore their own use of oral language to express what they are thinking and learning.  Be brave!

     I have created this product to help you get started.  The questions included can be used with any story- fiction  or nonfiction.  I never want to go back to a traditional class discussion!  This is the best thing I've ever used to promote higher level thinking in my classroom.
Just click {HERE} to view the product

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