I’m certain most of my listeners have employed simulations and role play in their class. It’s a great way to learn. This episode demonstrates how you can combine role-play and simulations with my favorite student activity.
I love Socratic seminars! They’re the embodiment of self-directed learning and student collaboration. Kids take a complex topic, learn about it, and then sit in a circle with their peers and apply it, discuss it, explain it, and ask questions to one another. My experience has been that concepts, events, and topics covered in this fashion leads to deep understanding and significant engagement. But everything, even things you and your students love, will get old if you don’t alter it occasionally.
I faced this dilemma in teaching the incredibly complex topic which is the Syrian Civil War. I wanted students to engage in a Socratic Seminar, but I wanted it to be different. We had conducted a number of such seminars and I felt the format was getting a bit stale. So…I decided that in order for my students to understand the Syrian Civil War, they needed to become the powerful actors involved.
Josh Kent and Spencer Cappel help me in this quest.
These are two outstanding young folks that will serve as this episode’s original sources. I love a lot of things about these guys, but I particularly appreciate the intellectual depth they bring to my class. One silly note about this episode, is I’ve always called Socratic seminars Socratic circles. My students call them that too. I try to call them Socratic seminars in this episode, which I’m only partially successful doing and it totally confuses my guests. Whoops!
Here’s a link to an earlier blog post where I explain exactly how to do a Socratic seminar!
Your go-to learning activity needs an upgrade.
Morph student identities for your next Socratic seminar.
What You Can Do Tomorrow?
- Settle on a topic.
- List the important players.
- Assign students roles.
- Prompt kids to research.
- Encourage students TO BE their role.
Socratic seminars are wonderful learning experiences. Keep them fresh and engaging by forcing kids to be somebody they are not!