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.
Using seminars at the end of a unit of study is the most common model I have seen in classrooms. Many times this ends up being about 95% of the way through the material just before the culminating test or project. This can be a great place for a Socratic Seminar, no doubt.
However, I also like to add that a seminar at about the 80% mark makes a great deal of sense as well. This allows teachers and students a chance to synthesize AND reflect, and provides time to clear up misconceptions and deepen understandings.
The 80% mark is a great time for older students to work on writing. An incredibly effective use for seminar is to have students bring outlines or drafts to class so that they can listen to their peers for added evidence and support for their writing.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
A popular version employs Socratic Seminar at the culmination of a unit of study. In this model, seminars are used primarily for students to synthesize information and for teachers to check for the conceptual understandings the students have. This model is often used just before a final project, test or written paper so that the students can further develop their ideas through dialoguing with their peers. Unlike most other Socratic Seminar applications, students in this model are often encouraged to make notes, collect references or citations, and otherwise accumulate and record more information in order to strengthen their viewpoints. This model is even occasionally used for performance-based final exams.