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Middle School Socratic Seminar

By November 2, 2021Middle School

Making connections between the classroom and the real world is at the heart of a Montessori education. In the words of Dr. Montessori, ‘ establish the relationship between things is to bring knowledge.’

Middle School students engaged in their first Socratic seminar on Halloween. Socratic seminars are student-led dialogues that require preparation, the ability to maintain the conversation around a specific topic, utilize active listening, and include others.

The students are at the mid-point in the novel, Blood on the River. In the week prior to the Socratic seminar, students were asked to gather text evidence and organize information based on specific questions. To promote a more authentic discussion, they were allowed to bring their books, but not their computers. They have been looking at the different conflicts and tension caused by various environmental and social factors in Jamestown.

The Socratic seminar was adapted to fit the model of a Fishbowl discussion, in which students seated inside the “fishbowl” actively participate in a discussion by asking questions and sharing their opinions, while students standing outside listen carefully to the ideas presented. Students take turns in these roles, so they can practice being both contributors and listeners in a group discussion. Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulated their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others.

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