Three Group Socratic Seminar

The Three Group Socratic Seminar is similar to a traditional Socratic seminar in that all knowledge is shared and constructed collaboratively. The major difference is seen in the Socratic circle and how the discussion takes shape. In this activity, students work in groups of three. There is a representative or spokesperson in each group who speaks to the circle. This type of Socratic seminar tends to be more structured and supported.

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Three Group Socratic Seminar Teacher Guide

Teach the skill

Student Activity
Interactive Lesson

Assess and track growth

Performance Tracker
Teacher Reflection

Plan your lesson

Planning Journal
Lesson Planner

Differentiate and support learning

Sample Questions
Dis/Agree Starters
Analysis Starters
Reading Rubrics
Guide To Group Work

Three Group Socratic Seminar Lesson

Classroom ready student presentation.

Step 1: Check In and Review

Student Presentation

Three Group Socratic Seminar
Check In
Discuss the following questions and
record youranswers in your notes.

New to the Skill

  1. What do you know about this skill?
  2. Predict how you might use the skill?
  3. Where have you used it before?

Experience with the Skill

  1. What are the steps to this skill?
  2. Why is this strategy useful?
  3. How does it help you?
  4. How do you use this strategy in other classes?

What Teachers Do

Asks a few questions to assess what students know about the skill.

Teaching Tips

Questions can be answered individually or in pairs/small groups.
Have students use the skill with little to no guidance in order to assess what they know.
Have students explain each step either verbally or in writing.

Step 2: Instructions

Student Presentation

Three Group Socratic Seminar
  1. Complete a Socratic Discussion Map
  2. Get into groups of three and form a Socratic circle(s).
  3. Bring your text, notes, and Socratic Discussion Map to the circle.
  4. Begin your discussion.
Student Activity

What Teachers Do

Go over the instructions and explain the activity.

Teaching Tips

Consider modeling how to complete the activity/steps before students do it on their own.
Consider having students complete the activity/steps in pairs or small groups.
Consider printing or projecting the Guide to review with students.
Consider using a timer to pace each activity/step.

Step 3: Set Expectations and Explain Grading Criteria

Student Presentation

Three Group Socratic Seminar
  • Enter the discussion prepared.
  • Contribute to the discussion.
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Be an active participant.

Options for Formative Assessment

Stand outside of the Socratic circle and listen to what students say. Use the Socratic Seminar Score Sheet to keep track of who is contributing to the discussion.

Collect students’ notes and/or Socratic Discussion Map and assess how the students are engaging in the activity.

What Teachers Do

State the expectation for task completion and review how students will be assessed.

Teaching Tips

Consider printing or projecting the rubric and go over grading criteria with students.
Model expectations so that all students are clear on what is expected of them.
Consider having students demonstrate the expectations for their classmates.

Step 4: Support

Student Presentation

Three Group Socratic Seminar
This slide contains support resources and
other materials to help you learn and master this skill.

Support Resources

Sample Questions
Dis/Agree Starters
Analysis Starters

What Teachers Do

Use the resources to support student learning.

Teaching Tips

Consider printing or projecting the language resources.
Explain and demonstrate how to use the language resources.

Step 5: Students reflect on their learning

Student Presentation

Three Group Socratic Seminar
  1. What did we do today (or the past few days)?
  2. What was the purpose of this lesson?
  3. How did this skill (or lesson) help you meet the learning objectives?
  4. How did today’s learning build on what you already know and are able to do?
  5. How will this lesson help you in the future?

What Teachers Do

Close the lesson with a debrief. Give students time to think about and process their learning.

Teaching Tips

Select one or two questions from the menu and have your students discuss the questions in groups of two to four.
Have students write their reflection on a lined piece of paper or in a journal.
Ask students to chart their progress, assess growth, and set new goals for the next lesson.
Strategically select scaffolding techniques to maximize growth.
Rehearse skills as often as possible to ensure students move toward mastery.

Literacy Standards In Action

We've mapped our literacy lessons and reading, speaking, and writing skills to state standards, Common Core, and NGSS. The standards are "the what" to teach. Our lessons are "the how" to meet the expectations defined by the standards. Click on the links below to view our quick reference table that maps standards to literacy lessons.

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; and cite specific evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

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