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?
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Daughter of the King, wife and mother, former upper elementary teacher, curriculum and course developer