Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RI:  Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-\x80\x9312
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 7: 
    Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different
    media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to
    address a question or solve a problem.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 1c: 
    Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on
    one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics,
    texts, and issues, building on others'\x80\x99 ideas and expressing their own clearly and

    a. Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under
    study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts
    and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well reasoned
    exchange of ideas.

    b. Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision making,
    set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as

    c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe
    reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a
    topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote
    divergent and creative perspectives.

    d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims,
    and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when
    possible; and determine what additional information or research is required
    to deepen the investigation or complete the task.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 2: 
    Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and
    media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions
    and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and
    noting any discrepancies among the data.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Socratic Seminar: The "N-Word"
Lesson Objective: Use textual evidence to evaluate arguments presented in articles
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Analysis
ELA.RI.11-12.7 | ELA.SL.11-12.1c | ELA.SL.11-12.2

Thought starters

  1. Ms. Wu says "Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning." How can you facilitate learning through speaking in your own classroom?
  2. Why is it helpful to explicitly focus on academic transitions?
  3. What can you learn from Ms. Wu about using the Common Core when lesson planning?
Thank you it really gave me an effective illustration of the Socatic Seminar, and you really did a good job of discussing the different student roles and expectations, as well as the overall goals of the instruction. Thanks for sharing. Cathy Dowling
Recommended (2)
I have used Socratic Seminar for years, but this is the BEST demonstration I have ever seen. In fact, with your permission, I would like to use it in the fall to teach my new group the different roles I would like them to play.
Recommended (0)
I have been doing SSR for awhile and have always believed we were doing an exceptional job, but this really gave me some wonderful ideas for areas to improve. Thank you so much for sharing.
Recommended (0)
SS not SSR.
Recommended (0)
Thanks for posting the video, for the first time I know what Socratic Seminar looklike. One question: What other words can be categorized into 'Academic Transitions' ?
Recommended (1)


  • Socratic Seminar: The "N-Word"
    Esther Wu
    Video Transcript

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: My name is Esther Woo; I teach 11th grade English;

    Socratic Seminar: The "N-Word"
    Esther Wu
    Video Transcript

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: My name is Esther Woo; I teach 11th grade English; and today’s lesson is a Socratic seminar on the N-word.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: We are currently studying Huckleberry Finn, and in Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain uses the N-word 200 plus times.

    STUDENT: It still has lots of, like, history behind it, and it still diminishes the African Americans and the community.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: Students encounter this word personally in their lives

    STUDENT: My friends, like, no matter their ethnicity, like, I’ve heard different people say it.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: We would not be doing Mark Twain justice if we didn’t look at this word.

    STUDENT: The reason Mark Twain wrote this book was to directly criticize society.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: A motto that I have is, “Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning.”

    STUDENT: Like, Banner, he like uses it, but like, he says if a white person says it he will, like, beat them bloody or something.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: The more students talk, the more responsible that they are for their learning, the more they give each other feedback, the more they learn.

    STUDENT: By saying that, like, only black community can say it, and not the white community, I think that, like Aaron said before, that it will create more tension.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: And I see my role as helping them do the work.

    STUDENT: I think it’s also important how person uses the N-word. Say, like, offensively.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: There are three big roles that students have in a Socratic Seminar. Every student ends up doing all three roles – speaker, listener, general evaluator. The speakers are the students who sit in the inner circle, and they have an organic discussion around the texts.

    STUDENT: Why should some people be able to it, even though every time they say it they run the risk of hurting someone else?

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: The coach is assigned to a specific student in the inner circle, and they are listening for the comments that students are making, the examples that they’re using. Their goal is to help the student at halftime to become an even more effective speaker.

    STUDENT: So yeah, just try to use a transition, maybe another quote.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: And the general evaluators, there are actually multiple roles. The comment counter, counting how many times students are speaking.

    STUDENT: Seraphine and Megan, try to, like, voice your guys’ opinions a little more…

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: The transition tracker, who’s keeping track of the academic transitions that we’re working on.

    STUDENT: Aaron used a transition where he summarized the discussion…

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: A quote tracker, someone who’s keeping notes on the quotes that are being cited.

    STUDENT: They’re kinda using the same stuff, and it’s kinda getting a little repetitive.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: We also have a student who’s doing what I call “big board,” who is literally keeping track of the big thematic questions and ideas in the conversation.

    STUDENT: Honestly, the biggest one was probably, “If the meaning was changed, could the word should be used by anyone?”

    ESTHER WU: Before we do our seminar, I’d like for us to do some goal setting today.

    STUDENT 1: I just said I would like to see more “I disagree” statements with explanations as to why.

    STUDENT 2: You know how we had the Oprah disccusion? I think that we can connect that with what we’ve been—like the articles we’ve been reading.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: The goal for the class is three-fold. There’s a reading goal, a speaking goal, and a listening goal. The reading goal is for students to be able to evaluate the complexity of the argument in a packet of articles that they read.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: Speaking, they need to contribute in a collaborative and diverse discussion with partners and to support their ideas with text.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: And finally, the listening goal is for students to evaluate their classmates’ comments according to what they read in the text.

    ESTHER WU: Alright so here we go. We’ve got fifteen minutes to start. This is your conversation. You may use anything from our packet, as well as from the Oprah film that we watched, as well as your personal experience.

    STUDENT 1: I’m most in agreement with Leonard Pitts, Junior’s, article, that the N-word has no place in society. I feel that it’s too hurtful, um, and we shouldn’t be using the word.

    STUDENT 2: I agree with you, Drew. Um, even Naylor acknowledges this when she says, “If the word was to disappear totally from the mouths of even the most liberal of white society, no one in that room was naïve enough to believe it would disappear from white minds.” Maybe it can’t be reformed and therefore it should not be incorporated into our society.

    STUDENT 3: Well, I have to disagree with both you and Drew, ‘cause, like, as Naylor said, I don’t think the word is gonna disappear. Like, in her own family, she’s starting the transition to mean, like, a, like a term of endearment and, like, a much more nicer meaning than it used to be.

    STUDENT 4: Yeah, I agree with Cannon. Because, I can see why Drew and Aaron think that we should stop using the word altogether, because it has such negative connotations with it. But just because you stop saying a word doesn’t mean that people—those ideas won’t still be around.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: So during a Socratic seminar we have half time.

    STUDENT: I think you should look into your article more, and use that to kinda synthesize.

    STUDENT: Find transitions here, and then just use them while you’re speaking.

    STUDENT: You only talked once, though, and I think that’s one thing we can improve on in the next half.

    ESTHER WU: So let’s check in with our transition tracker.

    STUDENT: We’ve used a lot of proficient transitions, mostly, like, “I agree/disagree with this person’s ideas because…”

    ESTHER WU: What do you recommend in terms of our getting more advanced transitions out there?

    STUDENT: Bringing in the quotes and also pointing out more, like, fallacies in different arguments.

    ESTHER WU INTERVIEW: The common core has become a part of my teacher DNA, and it provides the blueprint for a unit where we read, we speak, we listen, we write and work on language. And those are the four big umbrellas of the common core. And I really like that sequence because it makes sense for students. It is logical and it provides a scaffolding for students to be able to produce some sort of piece of writing at the end that takes into account all the reading they’ve done or all those conversations that they’ve had in speaking and listening.


School Details

Mountain View High School
3535 Truman Avenue
Mountain View CA 94040
Population: 1836

Data Provided By:



Esther Wu
English Language Arts / 9 10 11 12 / Teacher



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture