Socratic Seminars

Last week we had a Culminating Activity for our Immigrants, Refugees, and Enrique’s Journey unit. We prepared by completing our unit ePortfolios, which included journey maps, metacognitive logs, symbolism essays, character analyses, etc.) and doing additional research via a Document-Based Question. Students had to answer and give evidence for questions like, “Should parents leave their children behind to emigrate to a new country?” and “Should children attempt the immigration journey unaccompanied by an adult?” We have been studying the issues and the novel since October. Although our study centered on Latin American/US immigration issues, we also looked at other diasporas. The students got to vote on whether to have a Fishbowl, Horseshoe, Harkness/Spider, or Pinwheel format. Harkness won the day with an overwhelming majority.

This was our first time using microphone amplification for Talking Sticks in a whole-class discussion. I was very pleased with how it seem to help the students take their contributions more seriously and, aside from the initial novelty and excitement, wait patiently for their turn to have one of the two mics. I hope to do this again. The only drawback was that when a couple of classes were split into two smaller groups (they had more than one discussion question), it was counter-productive to use amplification. My main goal was to use the mics with one particular class anyway, because that groups has a few students with voice and deaf-hard of hearing issues.

Kudos again to this inspiring group of 7th Graders who are so passionate about world issues and social change!