Our Socratic seminar circles will give us the opportunity to share our ideas about Lord of the Flies as well as practice effective discussion techniques. The goal of the Socratic seminar is discussion not debate. As such, although you should come to your group with ideas to share, you don’t need to know everything about your topic beforehand. Again, this isn’t a presentation, but an exploration. The goal is to be learn more about your topic and the text by talking with others.
Each group will discuss for a minimum of 10 minutes (if your conversation can go longer, awesome!). The following list of positive discussion techniques will be observed for each participant in the circle:
- Speaks in the discussion
- Makes eye contact with other speakers while talking
- Refers to the text
- Asks a new question
- Asks a follow-question
- Responds to another speaker
- Paraphrases and then adds to another speaker’s ideas
- Encourages others to speak
In contrast, try to avoid interrupting others, engaging in side conversation, or dominating the discussion.
Those in the outer circle will need to listen carefully and take notes on the group’s discussion, especially when important points or ideas are made.
At the end of class, each student will turn in a reflection, which will be given a grade.
(PERIOD 3: As a reminder, here were your topics:
- DRIVER: What is the role of the conch shell?
- PASSENGER: What is the meaning of the beasts?
- BEHIND THE DRIVER: What do Jack and Ralph’s conflicts reveal?
- BEHIND THE PASSENGER: How and why do the boys lose their innocence?)
After the class discussion takes place, you’ll reflect on how the discussion went from your point-of-view, whether you were in the circle or out.
Type a one-page reflection that answers the questions below. Please answer in a brief paragraph for each, labeling each response by the corresponding number. You may single-space your response (with a double-space between each question).
- What did you find interesting? Include specific ideas that stood out from the discussion to you and why. Be specific, citing whose idea it was, and explain your reasoning. How did this discussion deepen your understanding of the story?
- What questions do you have? Include specific questions, ideas, issues, concerns that you are still struggling with and why this is still an issue for you.
- How did the discussion go?
- Inner Circle: Evaluate your personal, overall participation: how prepared were you? What were your strengths during discussion? Areas of improvement? Be specific.
- Outer Circle: How do you think the inner circle did? What were the strengths of their discussion? What points were developed well; conversely, what points were dropped? Be specific.
For your reference, below is an archive of the backchannel discussions, beginning with Day 2’s discussion (sorry, Day 1 – I didn’t think to do this for you):
Participating in an active discussion—especially with the eyes and ears of your peers around you—can be an intimidating prospect. Remember that effective discussion requires both talking and listening. As a friendly reminder, some etiquette tips for discussion are provided to the right.
When you are in the inner circle, consider using the following stems, which can help move discussion in positive, productive directions.
If you are in the outside circle, participate as if you were in the inner circle, just without talking. For example, if the inner circle is looking at a passage, open your book to the same passage and follow along. In addition, take notes on how the discussion is going: how is the discussion progressing, what points stand out to you, which points are developed/not developed, etc. Take active notes; you will need these to complete your reflection that night.
BYOD Tech Option! If you have a question for the inner circle about the content of their discussion, pose your question on the “backchannel” provided via Socrative.com to have your question addressed by the group.
1. Go to Socrative.com.
2. Click on Student Login.
3. Enter 983226 as the classroom ID.
4. Post your question.
As part of our discussion of O’Brien’s novel, we will zoom in on three short stories as well as the take a “whole view” analysis of the novel. Each student will sign up (or be assigned) a short story discussion group. On your discussion day, you’ll gather (for the first time) as a group to discuss the story while the rest of the class listens, observes, and takes notes.
To prepare for your discussion, review your short story in greater detail. Consider this your “second draft” reading. As you reread the story, think about what you see now that you didn’t see before (eye doctor analogy).
Specifically, come to class on your discussion day with notes on the following (they will be extremely helpful during discussion):
- What did you notice in the reading, both when you first read and upon rereading?
- What patterns or motifs have you observed?
- What can you say about the writing in this particular story? POV? Diction? Syntax? Details? Repetition?
- How does this story relate to others?
- Support all of the above with specific passages and quotations from the text (you should direct the group to specific passages and reread as needed during your discussion).
- Generate your own list of questions about this story.
You will not know when your discussion is taking place, so come to class ready to go each day. You may want to review Part 2 in this series (above) for what to do during discussion.
After each discussion day, you must turn in a reflection and notes on the discussion (see Part 3 above).
UPDATE: Sarah B., if you are reading this, you have been assigned the story “On the Rainy River.”