Do You Have 21st-Century Skills to Help Your Students Succeed? Do Your Students Have 21st-Century Skills to Think for Themselves? The Power of the Socratic Classroom has the answers you are looking for—answers that will supply the strategies to show students how to succeed into the future. A future that has unknown products, unidentified jobs, and unanticipated challenges. In Socratic Seminar, teachers shift to the role of facilitator, where they help their students develop the collaborative interpersonal skills, the critical and creative thinking skills, and the speaking and listening skills to face the upcoming challenges of the 21st century.
Charles Fischer has taught in public and private schools in a variety of settings, from rural Maine to inner city Atlanta. In the past 20 years, he has worked with a wide range of students from 4th grade to AP English and has been nominated for Teacher of the Year four times. He has his Master’s degree in Teaching & Learning from the University of Southern Maine, and received his B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Binghamton University. His latest book, The Power of the Socratic Classroom, has won four awards, including the NIEA Best Education Book. His first novel, Beyond Infinity, won a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal (YA fiction). His areas of expertise are Socratic Seminar, Active Listening, Inquiry, Teaching & Learning, and Critical & Creative Thinking. He is currently working on a book of poetry, a short story collection, and several novels.
I have often said that seminars can be facilitated around anything that can act as an anchor for the conversation. Usually referred to as the "text," they are probably better termed "artifacts," since it leaves it more open to interpretation.
I was recently in a chorus class where the teacher facilitated a Socratic Seminar. They used two texts: a recording of the group singing at a competition and the judge's notes. They had an amazing dialogue about what they agreed with from the judges, what they disagreed with, and what they thought they could improve for next time. That experienced reminded me of a quote I heard a long time ago: "Anything worth doing is worth talking about."
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
THE “TEXT” OR artifact for a Socratic Seminar can be anything that will promote a complex thinking process—typically a well-chosen poem, a short piece of fiction, an excerpt from a novel, a work of art, a deep question or quotation, a geometric proof, a movie clip, a song, etc. In less formal settings, a seminar could even be about how a hole appeared in a fence or the “story” that is told from tracks in a sandbox.
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