Saturday, April 26, 2014

EDUC 7726 - Socratic Seminar Reflection

This past week I had the opportunity to take part in my first ever Socratic Seminar.  Initially I was a little hesitant about the assignment, since I had never taken part in such an exercise.  Prior to class I read through information about the seminar provided by our instructor and watched a few videos examples as well.  What I noticed initially as I observed the first group taking part in the discussion, no two seminars are the same.

As an observer during the first seminar, it was very hard for me not to join in on the discussion.  There were many topics that were discussed that I so desperately wanted to express my opinions and findings from the data, but I knew I could not talk.  I especially wanted to comment on a point that my classmate Tim made about having technology specialist in the schools to help teachers better use technology in their classrooms.  I firmly believe that the data we looked at prior to the seminar demonstrated that teachers truly like to use technology in their classrooms, but some do not feel that they have enough professional knowledge to implement new technologies.  A technology specialist is something I feel is definitely needed in a school or district, but this individual needs to be different than the technology person who works with purchasing and installing software and updating the equipment.  I wonder what the results of survey would look like if schools had technology specialists that provide professional development and instruction to the teachers on the latest and greatest technology uses in the classrooms.

When I had the opportunity to be an active participant in the Socratic Seminar, I found myself multitasking a great deal.  In addition to responding to the opening question, I was listening to my fellow classmates discuss their points and findings while trying to find my own data and findings to contribute to the discussion.  I sort of felt like a member of debate team while watching the opposing side discuss their argument and trying to find information to continue the conversation, but not necessarily contradicting what was said since it was not a debate, but rather a discussion.

The one question that was discussed during my Socratic Seminar session was how teachers could assess students' learning with the use of technology.  I was very interested in this topic because our school uses digital portfolios to gather data on our students and we use it to see the progression they make from year to year with the use of technology.  One of my comments that I made and I still am thinking about the answer to the issue is how to determine the baseline data that we would use for each student to determine if they have learned anything through the use of technology.  It would be important for schools to create a pre and post test that they would use for the students to gather data.  The biggest issue I foresee is that each student could potentially be at different level of competence when it comes to technological abilities.  Schools would need to be prepared to differentiate the instruction for each child depending on their baseline data.

Overall I was very pleased with the Socratic Seminar.  On my drive home from class I was trying to think of different ways I could introduce it into my classroom.  We just recently did a project in my class where the students collected data on different questions pertaining to pizza.  I thought it would be interesting to have students take part in a Socratic Seminar on the findings of their data and even have them research other topics about pizza online.  I could create opening questions about pizza and have them use their findings to validate their responses.  I am sure there are many other ways to integrate the Socratic Seminar into my class and I look forward to exploring many more!


1 comment:

  1. You raise many important questions in response to the seminar and hope you will find answers to those about assessing portfolios in our next module. I'm glad to hear that you will be a strong advocate for tech. specialists in schools- we need them!
    Have a great week,