Choose texts which promote discussion
Image: Singing Bowl Media
Source: Museum Victoria
Resource sheet 1: Critical reading guide
Examples of texts for study in Socratic Circle discussions
- newspaper or journal article
- lyrics of a song
- political cartoon
- comic strip
- extract from a narrative
- scene from a film or documentary
- political or corporate promotional material
- policy statement or documents
- Hansard transcript
What values-focused questions should I ask of the text?
- What is the content of the text?
- What is the style and tone of the text?
- In what historical, literary and social context was the text constructed?
- What is the purpose of the text?
- What does the author of this text want me to think, feel and question? (In other words, ‘How am I being positioned as a reader of this text?’)
- What can I learn about myself and others from reading this text?
- What connections can I make between this text and others?
- What are my emotional reactions to this text?
- What images does this text evoke for me?
- What writing techniques has the author used to construct this passage?
- Does the text resonate with any of my own life experiences and knowledge?
- What is the cultural reference and expression of the text?
- Does the text leave unanswered questions and unresolved issues?
- Is there anything ambiguous or confusing about the text?
- How could I confirm the accuracy of the information presented?
- What kinds of judgments am I making as I read the text and how do they fit with my belief system?
- What can I predict about the consequences and possibilities of the ideas presented in the text?
- What do I presume about how other individuals/groups would respond to this text?
- What cultural images and metaphors are used to convey meaning?
- Whose voices are present in the text and whose voices are absent?
- Which values are at the heart of the meaning of this text?
Resource sheet 2
Sentence starters for referring to text in discussion and when giving feedback to the group
- What struck me most about the text was the...
- What connections did others make to the theme of...?
- Every time I read..., I got a sense that the author felt...
- What specific words and phrases in the text did you find most powerful?
- I thought the overall message of the text was... and linked to...
- Did anyone know what... meant? I found this confusing.
- I thought the metaphor of... was culturally insensitive given...
- What questions did others come up with in their preparation?
- I think the purpose of this text is to...
- Does anyone else think there is a double meaning in the line...?
- This text relates to the film/book/artwork/song/issue...
- Does anyone think the themes dealt with in this text are relevant to our contemporary society? If so, which ones?
Giving feedback to the group
The key to feedback is being specific and pinpointing the positives of a particular person’s contribution as well as offering some constructive ideas about how to improve their participation. Use the examples below as a guide to the sentence structure of feedback:
- X, when you brought up the point about..., it tied in well with one of the themes in the text...
- I thought X’s question about... to the group really opened up the discussion.
- X really tried to include quiet members of the circle by asking specific questions in a non-intimidating way.
- X’s point about... was well thought through/meaningful/insightful/appropriate/reflective, because it linked with the part in the text where...
- X referred to the text numerous times, which gave evidence for the ideas she/he presented.
- I would like to commend X for raising the point about the different layers of the text, particularly..., because it showed a deeper understanding of the text.
- X has a strong and clear voice and she/he used her/his voice to make the point about..., and was very convincing.
- X’s judgment about... showed some bias and could have been explored further.
- Those who didn’t contribute very much at all, need to prepare more thoroughly and refer to their notes during the next discussion.
- X was very responsive to other ideas and this showed her/his open-mindedness and maturity.
Socratic Circles Feedback Form and Assessment Rubric
These resources are available in:
Copeland, M. (2005), Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School, Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.