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Reading Groups for Johnston’s Opening Minds BSWP 2012 Invitational Summer Institute, Days #1 and #2. Becoming Learners and Citizens. “For intellectual development, the most powerful lever comes when children disagree and take each other seriously.” ~Peter Johnston

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Reading groups for johnston s opening minds bswp 2012 invitational summer institute days 1 and 2

Reading Groups for Johnston’s Opening MindsBSWP 2012 Invitational Summer Institute, Days #1 and #2

Becoming learners and citizens
Becoming Learners and Citizens

“For intellectual development, the most powerful lever comes when children disagree and take each other seriously.”

~Peter Johnston

“When people expect to disagree and to explain their position, have a reasonable tolerance for and expectation of uncertainty, understand the value of listening to others . . . they are well prepared for a strong democracy.”

~Peter Johnston

Socratic seminar purpose
Socratic Seminar: Purpose

  • Explore content (Johnston’s Opening Minds) and connect it to our inquiry.

  • Learn a super strategy you can implement in your classroom.

  • Develop our learning community.

Socratic seminar process
Socratic Seminar: Process

  • Establish discussion norms

  • Generate questions

  • Gather ideas and evidence

  • Discuss

  • Debrief

Establish discussion norms
Establish Discussion Norms

Journal Write:

  • What does an ideal class discussion look and sound like?

    • How do you know that students are engaged?

    • What do students say?

    • How do students show they are listening?

Establish discussion norms1
Establish Discussion Norms

Group Brainstorm:

  • What does effective listening look and sound like?

  • What does effective speaking look and sound like?

Establish discussion norms2
Establish Discussion Norms

  • With your partner (six o’clock appointment), compare the “Socratic Seminar Rubric – Draft” to the listening and speaking criteria we developed.

  • Revise the rubric.

  • Share and discuss possible revisions with the whole group.

  • Keep these criteria in mind as you prepare for and participate in the Socratic Seminar.

Generate questions
Generate Questions

Our Inquiry:

What makes for a significant teaching and learning experience?

  • In your small group (find your seven o’clock appointment and join with another pair), review Opening Minds and generate discussion questions that you are eager to dig into and that also connect to our inquiry.

    • Example: How can we help students learn to value risk? (Greg W.)

  • Document the questions your group generates on chart paper.

  • When you are finished, hang your poster on the wall.

Generate questions1
Generate Questions

Gallery Walk

  • Silently read each group’s list of questions.

  • For each poster, “vote” for the question you are most interested in discussing by placing a tally mark next to it. You can only choose one question per poster!

  • We will focus on discussing the top eight questions during our Socratic Seminar.

Gather ideas and evidence
Gather Ideas and Evidence

  • Copy down our eight focus questions on the “Socratic Seminar Preparation Guide.” Make sure to copy them down in order!

  • Work with your partner (eight o’clock appointment)to prepare for tomorrow’s Socratic Seminar. Write down your opinions as well as specific evidence to support your responses.

  • Continue to consider these questions tonight. You are encouraged to add ideas and questions from your friends and family!


  • Review the revised “Socratic Seminar Rubric”

  • Today’s process:

    • The partner (eight o’clock appointment) with a birthday closest to today will enter the center circle. Make sure you are sitting where you can make eye contact with your partner.

    • As the center circle discusses the first four questions, the outer circle will take notes – both on your partner’s participation and content.

    • After 15 minutes, you will meet with your partner to get/give feedback.

    • After 30 minutes have passed, you will switch places with your partner and then we will repeat the process with the last four questions.

    • We will conclude the discussion by exploring our central question as a whole group.

    • At the end of the seminar, you will meet with your partner to identify achievements and set goals.

Debrief content and process
Debrief: Content and Process


  • What are your big takeaways?

  • What questions persist?


  • How did this process affirm you as a learner?

  • How did this process challenge you as a learner?

  • What did you learn about yourself through this process?

Debrief purposes for our students
Debrief: Purposes for Our Students

  • Explore content and connect it to your inquiry.

  • Develop reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills.

  • Build an authentic learning community among your students.

  • Provide opportunities to learn how to effectively participate in our democracy!

  • What else?

Debrief implementation
Debrief: Implementation

Journal Write:

  • How could you use this strategy in your classroom?

  • How does this strategy help your students meet the Common Core State Standards?

  • How does this view of student speaking and listening align with your beliefs about what makes for a significant teaching and learning experience?

  • What can you learn about students’ conceptual understanding through the different stages of this process?