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.
This simple strategy/technique is so powerful that I am surprised I don't see it more in classrooms. The math is simple: when students participate in a pair-share 50% of the students are speaking! Compare that to a discussion in a class of 25 where one student speaks at a time, which amounts to 4%. Even in a group of only five students, one of them talking is 20%. The pair-share maximizes talk (and listening) time and, therefore, should be used on a regular basis, perhaps even as much as three or four times a class period.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Lastly, keep in mind that sharing in pairs or small groups can happen at any time, not just in the pre-seminar stage. My single favorite strategy for rebooting a stalled conversation is to use a turn-and-talk right after a new question. In these spontaneous or pre-planned sharing times, Nichols writes: “Children have an opportunity to process, try out, and strengthen their thinking with their peers, then come together and use their partner talk to build a whole group conversation.”