Socratic Seminars

Socratic Seminars are a philosophical and pedagogical method that pursues truth through analytical discussion. The goal of Socratic seminars is to better understand the ideas, principles, issues, and values conveyed in the work being discussed. Teachers use open-ended questions; students carry responsibility for the quality of the discussion. Students are encouraged to think out loud and to exchange ideas openly while following the text closely and examining ideas in a rigorous, thoughtful manner.

Evidence Base for Socratic Seminars:
Articles and Websites

Filkins, Scott. “Strategy Guide: Socratic Seminars, Grades 6-12.” National Council of Teachers of English, 2011: This guide describes Socratic seminars and offers methods for using the practice to help students explore multiple perspectives in a text.

Maxlow, James. Socratic Seminars: Discussion Source Materials and Prompts for Use in the AVID Classroom. 8/9/2011. A brief overview of adapting the Socratic Seminar to fulfill the Writing-Inquiry-Collaboration curriculum model used in AVID. The author divides his Socratic Seminars into three components: the preparatory exercise, the discussion, and the observation.

McIntyre, Ellen. “Story Discussion in the Primary Grades: Balancing Authenticity and Explicit Teaching.” The Reading Teacher 60.7 (2007): 610-620. Describes the use of explicit teaching and authentic dialogue to encourage student participation in meaningful literature discussion.

Socratic Seminars International: This site provides information about training in Socratic Seminars leadership skills for teachers, and dialogue facilitation and leadership skills for leaders of professional learning communities. Includes links.

Socratic Seminar Powerpoint Presentation:
An overview of the Socratic Seminar as an effective method for addressing Bloom’s taxonomy, elements of reasoning, and inquiry-based instruction in the sciences. Nine steps for the Socratic seminar are described, and the idea of Socratic inquiry across disciplines is reviewed.

Tredway, Linda. “Socratic Seminars: Engaging Student in Intellectual Discourse.” Educational Leadership 53.1 (1995): 26-29 may be found at:
This article describes Socratic Seminar methodology and discusses the impact Socratic seminars can have on school climate.

Copeland, Matt. (2005) Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School Portland ME: Stenhouse Publishers Inc.