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.
Stories with morals offer a great opportunity for students to develop their own! I often take the moral off the end of a story and have students try to find a fitting moral of their own, especially one that has the same sort of language. When we share as a class, there are often several variations on a theme, so a further exercise is to have the students "combine and compress" several of the ideas into one pithy phrase.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Most importantly, the text should have no obvious right or wrong answer or concept, such as a moral. This is so that the dialogue will be genuine inquiry and investigation, rather than an exercise in arriving at the “right” answer. If the text has a moral, such as one of Aesop’s fables, or an overly conclusive summary, remove that part of the text so that the students can draw their own morals and conclusions. Be careful about sharing the actual moral, since the students will evaluate themselves on their accuracy.