Socrates was my friend today, and we had a blast with a group of sixth graders!
Today I introduced the Socratic seminar to four different classes of sixth graders. One of our social studies teachers had given formative assessments on her recent content instruction, Ancient Greece. Those students who scored below the requisite score remained with the teacher for remediation on the content; those students who scored above the requisite score spent their class time in the media center with me.
After viewing the painting, the Death of Socrates, we read an excerpt from a text on the death of Socrates. I opened the seminar discussion with the essential question: was Socrates' trial and death justified?
While students struggled with the seminar style in the beginning, some of the students provided some really thoughtful responses and comments as the discussion moved from the basic indictment that Socrates corrupted the youth of the time to thoughtful comparisons with historical figures in our own culture, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who faced imprisonment and assassination.
The seminar format is such a unique instructional style and a real change from the usual lecture/sit-n-git of some classrooms. While some of the students remained quiet and maybe unsure about jumping into the discussion, other students shared interesting insights into the history and culture of ancient Greece, the philosophers, and freedom of speech.
Ultimately I was energized in my role as seminar facilitator today! Thanks for letting me teach and enrich today, Ms. S!