Some facilitators like to make notes during the seminar, but I have found note-making (not coding) to be most intrusive during seminars. Generally, it affects my ability to actively listen. However, occasionally it can be a productive way for giving students useful feedback and perhaps for writing report cards as well. When a student says something useful, insightful, or interesting, write the sentence down verbatim. If it’s particularly long, just ask the student to repeat it. If the conversation is moving too fast, have the students slow down, either by repeating the main idea of the person who spoke before them, or by simply waiting 3-7 seconds before speaking. This is a great technique for gathering quotations for newsletters, narrative report cards or parent meetings.
I still consider note-making to be a form of tracking because at the end of the seminar I still only have bits and pieces of conversation, some of it connected and some of it out of context. It still allows for a bit of quantitative tracking because some students might have 7-9 quotes, others 3-5, and some may not have contributed a single quotation. Having quotations to draw from, at least once in a while, makes assessment and grading easier to some extent because you have a little more of the student’s thought process captured. Like the other forms of tracking, however, recording notes cannot stand alone to create an accurate picture of a student’s performance in Socratic Seminars.
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