Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

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Teacher Perspectives: Using Socratic questions

Alice Chandler: I want something real for my students. That’s why I use questioning. They get to find out, “How are my classmates thinking? What is it they’re developing?” These are young adults. What they’re thinking now will pretty much be the foundation for how they will think for the rest of their lives, and how they will affect the thinking of their children, their family members, and even their neighbors. My use of Socratic questions [helps me] see how my students can tie in information they have learned in other classes (world geography, world history, D.C. history) or their everyday experiences. We have students that have traveled to other countries. We have a student who is from Turkey. We can use those things to let students play off one another and not so much me--to hear and develop their own thoughts and concepts. Usually by the l2th grade, they pretty much have a good idea of [how] they feel about things.

Successful questioning means giving them a question, and letting them really answer it. Don’t lead them. Let them formulate what they really had in mind, because [if you lead them] that doesn’t help them. If you are going to make it realistic, they have to go with something that they really believe passionately. It’s really helpful in everyday life, especially when you go for an interview.

Socratic dialogue broadens the individual and allows teachers to know when there’s a change. The type of student they had back in 1980 is a totally different student than what they have in the 21st century. It helps motivate students if you understand where they’re coming from and you use what they bring to the table.

It was not hard for me to get into the questioning mode as a teacher so much as it was to let my students really go with their answers and not try to lead them.


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