Question Detail

How do I conduct a socratic seminar with Early Years students?

Nov 1, 2015 6:05pm

  • Arts / English Language Arts / Math
  • K


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    • Nov 9, 2015 1:41pm

      Seminars are all about helping students move from where they are towards greater collaboration and engagement in making meaning for themselves. So exactly how much your early years students can do depends so much on your assessing what they are already capable of doing, and then gradually extending their opportunities to do a little more each time.

      A couple of suggestions: start with a short, but engaging rich text, such as a short poem or Aesop's fable or a complex picture book. Have students listen and follow along as you read it on at least 2 different occasions. Encourage them to practice sharing reactions with a partner and/ or the class, and have them share their own questions with you, an at-home partner, or the group. Try pausing to discuss their questions (or similar ones) as you read the text a second or third time, and use some of their questions in your seminar discussions. Focus on open questions where more than one answer can be supported with evidence from the text, and consider including the options/ answers when you pose the questions, if students need that scaffolding.

      Keep discussion short at first -- maybe only 5-10 minutes and 2-4 open-ended questions at first. Focus on helping students become comfortable sharing their own ideas and listening to those of others.

      Let me know if I can be of further help. I have worked with some schools in Victoria through the Independent Schools of Victoria's Development Centre, and Diane Bourke there has experience and teachers she can connect you with if you'd like to see some seminars in action in the early years. Their web site is:

      And there are some videos of K-1 students, as well as some resources for K-1 teachers at our web site (click on the Buy Now and see the collection called Starting Off Strong especially):
      There are also some Open Educational Resources for slightly older students that might work with some K-1 classes at:

      And enjoy exploring together!
      Denise Ahlquist