Ann Tapia

Using Canvas Discussions as a Digital Socratic Seminar

Blog Post created by Ann Tapia on Jul 11, 2017

"I have no idea what’s going to happen here, but it can’t be good,” said a visibly shaken Katie Wahl, 11, who according to reports began steeling herself for whatever god-awful group project, class discussion, or sharing of personal experiences the sixth-grade teacher might have in store for them."

 

Socratic seminars, while a valuable (and, as this Onion article implies, ubiquitous) classroom discussion tool, don't always go as planned. I haven't managed to pull one off, at least. Tips? 

 

One way I'm improving this deficit is by bringing it to my students' playing field. After all, they do get to send text to their classmates rather than having to talk in class. And I don't have to take furious notes on what each kid says, or print out a roster with a bunch of vague check-marks, or ask that one little girl in 4th block to please speak up, please, or have a kid in my homeroom repeat himself about 80 times before I finally get the presence of mind to actually listen to what he's saying, but you know, your mileage may vary. Additional benefits include another surprise grammar quiz after realizing that they still haven't learned "its" v. "it's" and ways to further myself as an educator by remembering to leave a clear rubric every time I see a "I agree with [REDACTED] because I like what they said" instead of a short answer style response with coherent structure and text evidence/supporting details for a a formal project grade. 

 

Naturally, this doesn't preclude me from hearing the sweet, sweet sound of 36 desks being laboriously dragged across the laminate into clunky oblong. Time to cut up some tennis balls. 

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