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Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School
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Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  22 reviews
The benefits and importance of Socratic seminars are widely recognized, but little has been written on how to make them happen successfully in the classroom. By offering real-world examples and straightforward answers to frequent questions, Matt Copeland has created a coaching guide for both the teacher new to Socratic seminars and the experienced teacher seeking to optimi...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Stenhouse Publishers
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Erin
Once on a reflection form after a class discussion, one of my students wrote something to the effect of, "You know that these class discussions are never going to be what you want them to be". I took that to mean, "Your dream of having class discussions that are actually highly engaging, student centered and thought-provoking is just a fantasy." I felt sad that my student felt that way, and felt his frustration at participating in discussion that doesn't live up to its potential. Having rich and...more
Molly
Absolutely one of the best teaching books I own. I had been doing Socratics for a while and was always disappointed that the format itself didn't automatically make students insightful. Copeland emphasizes far more thorough preparation and reflection than I had been doing in my classes. Before I even read this book, I was able to take the preparation and reflection forms he provides and use them for my first Socratic seminars of the school year, and they were by far the best I've ever had, inclu...more
Matt
This is one of my essential "bibles" of classroom instruction. I read it last year and it improved the discussions in my Honors classes significantly. Copeland presents many helpful tips on how to manage a Socratic Circle and how to develop opening questions for each circle. This is a must-read book for any English teacher.
Macy
A great technique for the classroom, however the author goes on and on, repeating concepts. I got it the first time.
Stephen
Copeland's insights here are helpful and have given me ideas for better class discussions. The idea behind Socratic circles--that students will be more invested in the learning process if they sense more ownership of it--is a valuable one to remember. Among the helpful ideas are to have students complete reading notes that interact with the assigned text before the discussion starts; their notes could serve as an "admission ticket" to the discussion (51). Also, changing the lighting in the class...more
Liz
I found the ideas in this book exciting and useful. That is why I gave it four stars. As a teacher I want to create dialogue and ecourage critical thinking with my students. Socratic Circles feel like a good way to do that.

I found the writing in this book long-winded, as though the author was trying too hard to prove his point. It was also very centered on an English classroom, so there were many parts I skimmed because I don't teach English.
Katie
I've been using Socratic circles for years but always felt they could be better in my classroom. This book gave me some missing pieces (outer circle feedback) and some tips (shorter passages). Hopefully, these changes will create more fruitful discussion.
Jill
Hopefully, I will use this successfully. It has the potential of being a great and well used professional texts with strategies that can be implemented in any class with any text and reap discussion.
Ryan Thompson
Excellent insight into how I can better incorporate meaningful socratic seminars into my classroom this next school year.
Susan
This is something that I have never tried before. I've often had the sense when in classroom situations that some among us knew well how to move the conversation forward. I imagined that they may have had experience with Socratic Circles. After reading this book, I suspect that I was right. I want my students to experience this. I think it will help them no matter they do in life - there is a high probability that discussion will at some point be involved!
Shawn
A useful text for developing Socratic dialogue in class rooms. Some of it is more relevant for (as the title indicates) middle and high school literature classes, but I found a lot here that can be adapted to my classes. Copeland's suggestions on pre- and post-discussion activities and assessment techniques also will be, I think(and hope), helpful. I also really liked the examples he provides of actual student dialogues.
Kelley
Since I’m not taking master’s classes anymore—I decided to read a book about a new device I want to implement in my LA 10 classes: Socratic circles. This book was about how to do that and it provided a lot of examples, a lot of stories to back up the points and it surprised me that the writer was so young and yet could provide such definitive advice. I can’t wait to try this in my classroom this year!
Gayle
This is a really nice companion piece to Pathways to the Common Core. Copland includes some very practical advice and also a few rubrics that will be helpful to those just starting to use this method and those who would like to improve how they use it. I agree, however, with the reviews that say parts of the text are repetitious. I was able to skim a lot and read it in a few hours.
Jennifer
I decided to read this book to see what I can learn from it about discussion in my English classes. I'm not finished with the book yet, but it's already given me a lot to think about in terms of the questions I ask my students and how to get them to have a dialogue with each other about the text we're reading. More to come when I finish.
Patricia
very repetitive with little substance given as to how the method can be applied to readings outside of the language arts curricula. I liked the forms at the end that can be used to evaluate the circles.
Sarah
I am a convert to the Socratic method of teaching. This book is a practical manual for integrating the circles into a classroom.
Michael
I love using Socratic Circle instruction in the classroom. A great technique to bring students in to the discussion.
Christi
Not exactly a book to review -- I think the pedagogy is sound and will implement it though.
Anne
Teachers should read this and try this strategy in the classroom. I'm so eager to get started!
Kristie
I love the idea of socratic circles. I would be happy to see even more literary circles in America.
Beth
Awesome ideas, I can't wait to try this with my 6th graders - a little later in the year.
Gini
An excellent introduction to the art and science of the Socratic circle.
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