In Search of the Novel:Teacher-TalkNovel
Subject: socratic seminarFrom: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Sat Apr 29 2000 - 16:59:59 EDT
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Your method is very similar to that used by Diana Russell. The one difference I see is that Diana has her students work together prior to the seminar to choose a driving question. Once they have chosen that question, they find supporting material in both the text and supplemental readings. In addition, the student chosen as facilitar creates a list of leading questions to help keep the conversation from getting stuck "in a hole" (as the students say). Her classes also use the dual circle approach. After each seminar, the full class participates in an evaluation, where they discuss how the inner circle did, what issues they didn't address, what other references they might have used, etc. According to the students, these seminars rarely last just one class period. Apparently they often find themselves at lunch or after school, congregating to continue the discussion whether Diana is available or not.
On another note, Ashby Reid uses the seminar in a modified manner for her class. The "tennis ball seminar" (as seen in Episode 1) is a much more informal approach. In this exercise, Asbhy acts as facilitator, guiding the discussion and keeping the class more or less on track. For her younger students this is very effective.
I hope that helps.