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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Class Discussion to Encourage Critical Thinking: Resources for Grades 9-12

For high school educators, this list of resources, guides, and downloads will help you implement Socratic seminars and other classroom discussion models that encourage critical thinking.

About Socratic Seminars

  • Socratic Seminars: Patience & Practice (Teaching Channel, 2013)

    At Mountain View High School in Mountain View, California, teacher Paige Price discusses how she uses Socratic Seminars in her classroom to address the question, “What’s the purpose of poetic language?” Make sure to check out the supporting materials related to the featured activities, including scoring and student preparation guides.

  • How KIPP Teachers Learn to Teach Critical Thinking (Edutopia, 2011)

    Professional development at KIPP King Collegiate High School includes setting up "fishbowl" classroom configurations, assigning student roles, and other techniques for facilitating successful Socratic discussions. For full coverage of the critical thinking strategies in place at KIPP King, visit Edutopia's Schools that Work package, "Critical Thinking: A Path to College and Career."

  • The 21st-Century Socrates: How to Implement a Powerful Hybrid Classroom Model (Edutopia, 2011)

    Teachers John Suralik and Blake Wiggs teach at two schools 23 miles apart from each other. But by using Skype and the inner circle and outer circle model, they are bringing 21st-century Socratic seminars to their classrooms, and increasing student participation and engagement.

  • Socratic Seminar (Facing History and Ourselves)

    This guide from Facing History and Ourselves explains five steps to implementing Socratic seminars in the classroom, including considerations for selecting appropriate texts, preparing students, communicating expectations, setting up procedures, and facilitating reflection and evaluation.

  • Socratic Seminars Strategy Guide (ReadWriteThink)

    ReadWriteThink’s strategy guide explains Socratic seminars, including the benefits for students, and offers practical methods for applying the approach in your classroom.

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Downloads from Schools that Work

  • Connectors for Socratic Seminar (Edutopia, 2011)

    This handout from KIPP King includes a reference list of discussion connector statements for high school Socratic seminars, including statements for paraphrasing, acknowledging ideas, affirming, soliciting and responding, asking for clarification, and disagreeing.

  • Socratic Seminar Outer Circle Roles and Assignments (Edutopia, 2011)

    This Socratic seminar handout from KIPP King details possible roles and assignments for observation in the outer circle.

  • Socratic Seminar Rubric (Edutopia, 2011)

    This rubric, courtesy of KIPP King, can be used to assess student performance during Socratic seminars for participants in the inner circle and in the outer circle.

  • Socratic Seminar Practice Statements (Edutopia, 2011)

    This worksheet from KIPP King includes a practice section to help students work on evaluating seminar statements and some examples of discussion connectors.

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More Blogs About Class Discussion

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Have you used Socratic seminars or other classroom discussion models in your classroom? Are there other resources you'd like to see included on this page? Please share your feedback in the comments.

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