A Step-by-step Guide

Participating in a Socratic Circle
Participating in a Socratic Circle
Image: Singing Bowl Media
Source: Museum Victoria

An outline of Socratic Circles

Critical reading: A passage of text is chosen. Copies of the text with space/columns for annotations are distributed to students who read the passage several times taking notes.

Inner circle discussion 1: The first circle, randomly chosen, discusses the text for 10 minutes – asking and answering questions of each other. Teacher/leader begins with a ‘conversation-starter’.

Outer circle feedback 1: Each member of the outer circle contributes some concise feedback to the group including both positive comments and constructive criticism.

Inner circle discussion 2: The groups swap roles – a different conversation-starter question is offered by the teacher/leader.

Outer circle feedback 2: Feedback – both positive, affirming comments and comments that suggest areas for improvement, that is, constructive criticism.

Evaluation: Students evaluate their own contribution to the discussion.


Further Information

For detailed information about how to facilitate Socratic Circles, consult:
Copeland, M. (2005), Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High Schoool, Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

This publication contains a Socratic Circle feedback form and an assessment rubric.