Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Using Edmodo for a Socratic Seminar

We conducted a Socratic Seminar on Friday with a special tool:

A Socratic Seminar is a text-based discussion.  So I reminded my students of these things before we began:

TO DO: Read the text, underline, circle, highlight things you think are important or that you do not understand. Write at least one question on the handout for class on Friday.

I will be choosing captains (facilitators) to lead the groups based on your questions and annotation of the text.

Link to the text: Pericles - Funeral Oration

Looking forward to seeing how it goes on Friday.

Some things to consider:
Listen actively.
Build on what others say.
Expose/suspend your assumptions.
Do not step on other’s talk. Silences and pauses are OK.
Emphasize clarification, amplification, and implications of ideas.
Converse directly with each other, not through the facilitator.
Let the conversation flow without raising hands, as much as possible.
Make references to the text and encourage others to do the same.
Watch your air time for how often you speak and how much you say when you speak.
Question 1—Agreement: Which parts of the text do we agree with in terms of our work?
Question 2—Aspiration: Which parts of the text do we aspire to or want to work toward?
Question 3—Alignment: What is the current reality, and what is the gap between where we are and our aspirations?”
Question 4—Adjustments: What needs to be done for us to succeed?

Debrief (5 Minutes). When everyone has spoken, the facilitator closes the discussion about the text and poses the following questions for open discussion:
· What did we learn?
· What new insights did we gain as result of this protocol?
· What worked well?
· Did we follow the protocol? If not, why?
· How could the process be improved?

Here is my debrief after it was all finished:


  1. I was looking at Hootcourse today, which also allows real-time interaction, and looks interesting--but posts are limited to 140 characters. Does Edmodo have a similar character limit?

  2. David, I do not believe it does have a character limit of 140.

  3. Not to be obtuse, but I can't get a feel for the logistics of this (English teacher.) Would it work for a novel, or did you feel it worked better for a short passage or piece? It certainly seems more interesting than a whole-class circle discussion. Who was talking to whom? Did you create a group for each six kids? And your moderator logged in for that group?

  4. Don't worry about being obtuse. I am a history teacher, so I won't even know what you mean! :-)

    It was smaller socratic circles, done the same way any socratic group would be done. Questions, discussion, more questions. They were in groups of 5-7 kids. Each student had to read the document and then annotate the text and come up at least one question. I pick my group leaders based on the best annotated text and question. So there is some competition there and the kids are trying to out do each other.

    With Edmodo I just used it as an overlay that helped to connect each of the groups. Each group has an account and the group leader could add questions to Edmodo that their group was struggling with answering. That opened the discussion up to the rest of the groups.

    What was nice is that it just super charged our normal socratic groups and gave the students something to continue their discussion. For example, if none of the students understood a certain passage in their group, they could type it into Edmodo and the other groups could reply with an answer.

    I think it could work with a novel, but probably would work best with a certain chapter or passage from the novel that could center their discussion.

    I use socratic seminars all the time, but with Edmodo it just took it up a notch. I got the idea from here:

    youtube video that explains it:

    problem being that my students in high school could not use their cell phones and do twitter in that way. So I tried to use Edmodo because it was safer and more secure. Looking forward to trying this again this year.

  5. Awesome! Thanks for the link to the video, too. That helped. Adding Edmodo to my tech list this year, so we are anxious to find ways to bring it up to the Pre-AP level.


  6. Good luck. Let me know how it goes. :)


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