Socratic Seminar Student Guidelines

Socratic Seminars

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
-Socrates


Guidelines for Participants in a Socratic Seminar

1. Refer to the text when needed during the discussion. A seminar is not a test of memory. You are not "learning a subject"; your goal is to understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in the text.

2. It's OK to "pass" when asked to contribute.

3. Do not participate if you are not prepared. A seminar should not be a bull session.

4. Do not stay confused; ask for clarification.

5. Stick to the point currently under discussion; make notes about ideas you want to come back to.

6. Don't raise hands; take turns speaking.

7. Listen carefully.

8. Speak up so that all can hear you.

9. Talk to each other, not just to the leader or teacher.

10. Discuss ideas rather than each other's opinions.

11. You are responsible for the seminar, even if you don't know it or admit it.

Expectations of Participants in a Socratic Seminar

When I am evaluating your Socratic Seminar participation, I ask the following questions about  participants.  Did they....

Speak loudly and clearly?
Cite reasons and evidence for their statements?
Use the text to find support?
Listen to others respectfully?
Stick with the subject?
Talk to each other, not just to the leader?
Paraphrase accurately?
Ask for help to clear up confusion?
Support each other?
Avoid hostile exchanges?
Question others in a civil manner?
Seem prepared?

What is the difference between dialogue and debate?


Socratic Seminar:  Participant Rubric

A Level Participant

Participant offers enough solid analysis, without prompting, to move the conversation forward

Participant, through her comments, demonstrates a deep knowledge of the text and the question

Participant has come to the seminar prepared, with notes and a marked/annotated text

Participant, through her comments, shows that she is actively listening to other participants

Participant offers clarification and/or follow-up that extends the conversation

Participant’s remarks often refer back to specific parts of the text.

B Level Participant

Participant offers solid analysis without prompting

Through comments, participant demonstrates a good knowledge of the text and the question

Participant has come to the seminar prepared, with notes and a marked/annotated text

Participant shows that he/she is actively listening to others and offers clarification and/or follow-up

 

C Level Participant

Participant offers some analysis, but needs prompting from the seminar leader

Through comments, participant demonstrates a general knowledge of the text and question

Participant is less prepared, with few notes and no marked/annotated text

Participant is actively listening to others, but does not offer clarification and/or follow-up to others’ comments

Participant relies more upon his or her opinion, and less on the text to drive her comments

D or F Level Participant

Participant offers little commentary

Participant comes to the seminar ill-prepared with little understanding of the text and question

Participant does not listen to others, offers no commentary to further the discussion

Participant distracts the group by interrupting other speakers or by offering off topic questions and comments.

Participant ignores the discussion and its participants

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Do we just ask each other questions and answers?
Do we answer people's questions with questions?
What kind of questions do we ask?