Bringing the Socrative Seminar to the 21st Century

By on September 28, 2013

As students walked into our classroom the morning before our Socratic Seminar, I listened to them discuss what they recently saw on Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social networking sites. Again, I was reaffirmed of how engaged and connected they are to their mobile devices.


Knowing we were having a Socratic Seminar the next day, I wanted to develop a plan that incorporated their mobile devices, in order to enhance engagement, quality of discussion, while increasing literacy skills. Immediately I remember the student response app, Socrative

What is Socrative?

Socrative is a free smart student response system that allows teachers to pose multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and quiz questions to students while they answer digitally on their mobile devices.


How can I apply Socrative into my Socratic Seminar?

I pitched this to student as we were preparing for a “mental flight”. I playfully set up the theme of flying an airplane (adapted from Kate Neele, an AVID staff developer and LTA team member) and we were all going to have very specific roles. We applied LTA’s 3 groups Socratic Seminar and defined each participant's role.


  1. Pilot: Inner circle responder responsible for speaking for the group and “taking the controls” of their groups responses.
  2. Co-Pilot: Outer circle responder #1 responsible for whispering ideas, responses, and arguments for the pilot to share when the opportunity arises.
  3. Tower Control: Outer circle responder #2 responsible for posting personal connections, responses, questions, and evaluations of responses using the Socrative app through their mobile device.



  1. Teacher/Student poses a question.
  2. Pilots respond to the group.
  3. Co-Pilots help the pilots with their responses.
  4. Tower controllers posts their individual responses using Socrative for everyone to see.
  5. Rotate clockwise after every question until every students has participated in each role at least once.

What steps can I follow to apply this in my classroom?

  1. Download the Reflector Software (mentioned on a previous e-coach post), or Apple TV to mirror responses onto your board or projection screen.
  2. Download the “teacher version” of the app on any mobile device (iphone, ipad, android device).
  3. Retrieve your Socrative assigned “classroom number”.
  4. Select the “short answer” response function.
  5. Instruct students to download the “student version” on their mobile devices and join your “digital classroom”.
  6. Instruct students on the Socratic Seminar expectations, language support tools, and evaluation process using the LTA Socratic Seminar resources.
  7. Divide students into groups of three with at least on person having a mobile device.  (I had all my mobile device owners line up in the front of the class and assigned non-owners accordingly).
  8. Follow the procedures outlined above.

10 ways will enhance your Socratic Seminar.

  1. Every student will be highly engaged and held accountable to participate in critical thinking.
  2. Students will have multiple opportunities to participate in different roles.
  3. All students will apply reading, writing, listening and speaking skills throughout the Socratic Seminar.
  4. Students will respond to a wide variety of informational inputs and outputs.
  5. Students will apply various learning styles (spatial, linguistic, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal).
  6. Students will apply 21 century skills in order to develop literacy skill.
  7. Less vocal students will have an outlet to communicate their ideas.
  8. Highly vocal students have an outlet to communicate ALL of their ideas.
  9. Students will practice applying sentence frames in their writing.
  10. Students will have extended opportunities to listen to and respond to the ideas of others.

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The Conversation

Ms. Speake Ms. Speake 10/1/2013

I'm wondering how to manage responses from the inner circle, the whispering outer circle, and the mirrored responses moving on the TV. Does the inner circle read the responses posted, or the co-pilots? Both? Loving this idea!

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Mr. Lucero Mr. Lucero 10/3/2013

Managing responses from the inner circle is identical to what is outlined on the LTA socratic seminar handout. Basically, train students to wait to speak and pick that "perfect opportunity" to add to the conversation. No one reads the mirrored responses aloud. Think of the mirrored responses as an extension of the "live" conversation. It is constantly evolving, changing, and scrolling so students can choose to bring it to the socratic only if they like. Its an additional voice students can respond to, but allows students to instantly share an idea, without having to wait for that "perfect opportunity" to join the live conversation. I hope this helps!

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Ms. Victory Ms. Victory 7/9/2014

I absolutely love this. It reminds me of live Twitter feeds. You are constantly updating the conversation for the public to see. It gives the kids a purpose and an audience for their discussions. It also holds them accountable because the class can see what is being typed. Were there any glitches to this lesson that you had to tweak to make it better?

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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.
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Use Technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
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.
Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
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.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
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