Ed Tip: Integrating Technology Into a Socratic Seminar

Consider how technology can both enhance and transform a Socratic Seminar.

Grades K-12 4 min Resource by:
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Socratic Seminar is a popular strategy for engaging students in deep-level conversation about a piece of text. By carefully reading an article and generating probing questions, students prepare for engaging and well-informed conversations. The Socratic Seminar is not intended to be a debate; rather, it is a collaborative effort to unpack the complexities of a piece of text through respectful and open dialogue. While Socratic Seminars have traditionally been conducted without the aid of technology, thoughtful technology integration can infuse new efficiencies and opportunities into the process. While technology can be effectively integrated at each of the three stages of the Socratic Seminar process (preparation, seminar, and reflection), it can also be used to transform the experience through asynchronous interactions over multiple days.

The Preparation Stage

The Seminar Stage

  • Strategies:
    • Mark up the text.
    • Identify key ideas and supporting details.
    • Generate new questions.
    • Collaborate with a team.
  • Word Processor Tools:
    • Highlight.
    • Underline, bold, and italicize.
    • Add hyperlinks.
    • Add comments.
  • Workflow Efficiencies:
    • Mark up a text as the seminar progresses.
    • Complete tasks.
    • Take notes.
    • Promote active listening.
    • Add new questions.
    • Organize content and thoughts with a table structure.
    • Share with a teacher or peers.
    • Collaborate with a pilot or copilot in real time.
    • Access and submit content digitally through learning management systems.

The Reflection Stage

Integrating Technology to Transform the Socratic Seminar

  • Discussion Forums (Learning Management Systems)
  • Flip
  • Kialo

Integration Ideas

During the preparation stage, digital tools allow various forms of multimedia to be used as the original text. This opens up new opportunities for students to critique video, audio, and online content. During the actual seminar, pilots and copilots can share collaborative documents with each other, allowing them to pass ideas back and forth without disrupting the flow of the dialogue. They can also continue to mark up the original text and digitally keep track of key points being shared. After the seminar, teachers can prompt reflection through digital surveys and exit tickets. Virtual discussion and dialogue tools can also support classrooms in taking the Socratic Seminar experience to an asynchronous space, allowing students to interact and share ideas virtually over multiple days.

How can I learn more?

For more information about prompting higher-order thinking in your classroom, explore the following AVID Open Access article: Accelerate Learning by Maintaining Academic Rigor and Cognitive Complexity.