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.
Obviously, conversations are complex and arriving at a grade is not easy - but it can be done. I recommend in my workshops that teachers use triangulation, that is, that they use at least 3 grades that make up the overall grade for the students involved in the conversation.
For me, this is most often: a grade for the annotations that a student submits; a grade for their individual participation; and a grade for the entire group. I often leave the weights for the students to decide.
Once students have been taught how to mark up a text, annotations are graded against anchor papers. For the individual grade, I often use "threshold grading," where a student receives full or partial credit for participation. The group grade can be determined by a rubric or through the use of exit tickets.
A student's grade might then be 40% annotations, 40% contributions, and 20% group grade.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Teachers who grade Socratic Seminars will encounter numerous questions. How do you grade a conversation? Clearly, a productive comment is better than a redundant or irrelevant comment, but how much better? How do you grade listening? Is a question better than a statement? If seminars are group endeavors, how do you grade an individual? Is a concise comment better than a long comment? Should you grade the whole group? When is a student improving, and how would you know? Is one comment from a shy participant better than three from a talkative student?