Artifact: Socratic Disc Plan
When I review my efforts related to Standard 4, the activities/projects that I did during my program were where I found the most benefit. Two examples that came from the Accomplished Teaching course I completed were 1) my partner reflection activity and 2) the research paper I wrote on Socratic discussions.
The truth is that I am very fortunate, and work in a small team/school where collaborative reflective practice is a constant companion. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy my position so much. For example, the very type of partner reflection that we completed as part of the Accomplished Teaching course is something I already have the privilege of doing with my teaching team. The distinguished rating for Danielson component 4a states “Teacher makes a thoughtful and accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness and the extent to which it achieved its instructional out- comes, citing many specific examples from the lesson and weighing the relative strengths of each” (“Frameworks and Rubrics”, 2014). My team recently reviewed our efforts to teach our students how to identify main ideas and details in non-fiction texts. We looked at our assessment results, our teaching methods, reviewed our selected text sources for the lesson, and figured out many meaningful improvements. The best part of these efforts are that they take place in a highly trusting environment. As stated by York-Barr, Ghere, and Montie (2006) “One of the first requirements of dialogue is to suspend judgment” (p. 207).
Even though I already benefit from a collaborative and reflective workplace, I was still able to achieve benefit from the collaborative reflection that I completed as part of this course. I focused on a math lesson related to basic algebra concepts. I was attempting to add more student partner discussion into the lesson (Danielson 3b). Here you can see two students working together on a white board during the lesson (which I recorded on video), a collaborative piece that had not been present previously.
The new ideas I considered when reviewing the partner work from the lesson with my reflective practice partner will improve the lesson even more. For example, we realized that the student pairs did not have an opportunity to select from a broad enough range of difficulty when they were picking a problem to work on together. This meant to lesson unnecessarily truncated the range of possible learning the student pairs could experience.
As mentioned earlier, the research paper I completed on Socratic discussions represented significant new learning for me (included as an artifact on this page titled “Socratic Disc Plan”). In addition, I found the process very motivating. I do not typically research specific methods or ideas that I am interested in with so much effort because there is always “something else to do” when you are busy with your day-to-day teaching responsibilities. Being forced to write paper allowed me to benefit from deeper learning on the topic. I found ideas about Socratic discussions in Chesters (2012) to be especially instructive and inspirational. For example, “Socratic pedagogy is a process of reflective education through dialogue as a way to construct knowledge and create meaningfulness. The process is not an individual one, but a communal one in which the ability to think for oneself can be said to be one of its educational aims and practices” (p. 38).
Since completing my Socratic paper, I have utilized the method during language arts, science, and social studies (and less formally in math). For structured discussion, I have found the seating arrangement shown by Guthrie (2013) to be especially useful, although I reduce the number of students per circle in the elementary setting.
Figure 1. Socratic Seminar Layout from Guthrie (2013).
While I have not done a valid statistical analysis, I have found improved performance by students on assessments after units which included Socratic discussion, as did many researchers including Tienken, Goldberg, and DiRocco (2010), who saw up to 27% gain on achievement tests after using Socratic approaches. I intend to continue using this method as a regular part of my teaching practice and unit design.
I will continue to reflect in a collaborative manner no matter where I teach. I hope that all of my future teaching teams utilize the collaborative process as well as my current one does.
Chesters, S. D. (Ed.). (2012). Socratic Classroom : Reflective Thinking Through Collaborative
Inquiry. Rotterdam, DEU: Sense Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
Davies, M., & Sinclair, A. (2014). Socratic questioning in the Paideia Method to encourage
dialogical discussions. Research Papers In Education, 29(1), 20-43.
“Frameworks and Rubrics.” Washington State TPEP. Office of Superintendent of Public
Instruction, 14 Aug. 2014. Web. <http://tpep-wa.org/themodel/framework-and-rubrics/>.
Guthrie, Emily. Sample Classroom Setup. 2013. How to Use Socratic Seminar. Web. 30 Nov. 2015 <https://simplynovelteachers.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/socratic-seminar/>.
Tienken, C. H., Goldberg, S., & DiRocco, D. (2010). Questioning the Questions. Education
Digest: Essential Readings Condensed For Quick Review, 75(9), 28-32.
York-Barr, J., Sommers, W. A., Ghere, G. S., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective Practice to
Improve Schools: An Action Guide For Teachers (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: