One thing I am asked about often is how to grade for the work students complete in Socratic seminars. I like to think of it more as tracking and assessing rather than grading. It’s more important to track progress than it is to give students a grade because Socratic seminars are designed to meet students where they are in terms of the many different skills needed to have a successful seminar. In order to monitor progress, I track student participation along with a writing piece where I also provide a rubric for a more traditional sense of grading. Together, I am able to really assess a student’s understanding of our class novel and identify areas in which they need more support.
Tracking Participation: When I track participation among students, I use a regular form with their names listed and boxes next to their names. Along with that, I use a Key and place a letter next to their name each time someone speaks in the circle. P = Prediction C = Connection I = Inference Q = Question for clarification/comprehension D = question to spark discussion R = retell T = cite text specific O = off task
I like to keep track of the type of comments students make during the conversation because it helps me when I am working with them individually to come up with reading goals. For example, if I notice a student is often asking clarifying questions during seminars, I might create a small reading group with a few other students to practice reading skills or assign for the student to make notes to monitor their understanding while reading.
Writing Assessment: I like to integrate writing along with the reading and to do that, I often assign a writing reflection after the seminars. In a few of my posts, I’ve mentioned how I present students with a Central question around the halfway point of a seminar. During this time, students discuss their opinions and listen to others’ opinions. Their writing assignment requires students to formulate a final opinion on the question and relate their answer to their own lives and the story. I provide a rubric so students know what is expected, and I am able to see how much of the story as well as the conversation they retained. The rubrics are another great tool for me to use in assessing their understanding, but a great place to assess writing skills as well!
Still not sure where to start with Socratic seminars?
Daughter of the King, wife and mother, former upper elementary teacher, curriculum and course developer