Paideia Seminars: How to Build Student Collaboration Skills

Due to the integrated nature of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we have an opportunity to dive deeply into multiple literacy standards simultaneously. Gone are the days when reading, writing, speaking, and listening were skills taught in isolation. Few instructional strategies accomplish literacy integration as well as the Paideia Seminar. Paideia, from the Greek paidos, or nurturing of a child, is a framework that encourages the active learning of all students, regardless of variability. It’s something every teacher will want to explore.

What is a Paideia Seminar?

You’ve all probably experienced the Socratic Seminar in college, a formal class discussion that values the power of questioning in building shared knowledge. A Paideia Seminar is similar, but it takes the Socratic discussion to the next level, as it embodies important guidelines of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and aligns to the CCSS.

The National Paideia Center defines the Paideia Seminar as a collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text. If we break down that definition, you can see alignment to the UDL Guidelines and the CCSS. The connection between UDL and the CCSS is significant because UDL is explicitly mentioned in the CCSS (in the Application for Students with Disabilities section, as best practice).

UDL Guidelines

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Designing Lessons for Unique Learners

I love lesson planning. There is something magical about taking rigorous curriculum and making it accessible to all students. It’s an art and a science to blend your knowledge of subject matter, child development, and your students, and create a lesson for them. Regardless of how you plan now, I want you to know that Universal Design Learning (UDL) can help you do it better.

Universal Design for Learning is a framework that allows teachers to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom. With increasingly diverse populations of students, it’s never been more important to provide differentiated learning experiences in the same setting. Sometimes this variability may seem overwhelming when sitting down to plan lessons, but it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of how you plan now, I want you to know that UDL can help you do it better. Understanding UDL will help you to blend your knowledge of subject matter, child development, and your students, and create a lesson specifically for all of them.

How do I start?

The first thing you’ll want to do is examine the UDL Guidelines, a list of teaching strategies to consider before, during, and after planning. Checkpoint 8.1 reminds educators to “Heighten salience of goals and objectives” for students, but this is important for you as well. Knowing your goals and objectives before you plan is critical, so in addition to the Guidelines, have your Common Core or state standards handy. Choose your standard first, and then you’re ready to plan. That’s what standards-based design is all about.

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