"Socratic Seminar Workshop", by John Zola

Implementing Socratic Seminars in the Classroom by John Zola

(What is a Socratic Seminar?)

 Target Audience: Teachers (Further specifics are given in the section titled 'Suitable for..' below)

 Course Leader: John Zola

 Date: Saturday and Sunday May 5- 6, 2018

 Time: 9 am - 4 pm

 Venue: International School of Athens, Artemidos 42 & Xenias, Kifissia,  Athens, Greece

Socratic seminars are student-led classroom discussions that promote higher level thinking, more careful reading of texts, and increased skills of classroom and civil discussion. 

After the completion of this two day workshop, participants can begin to conduct seminars in their own classrooms.


Workshop Facilitator

John Zola spent over three decades as a high school and middle school social studies teacher, most recently at New Vista High School, a “break the mold” experimental public high school in Boulder, Colorado where he was part of the core design team. Throughout his career, John developed interactive teaching materials and conducted professional development workshops in active learning strategies and Socratic seminars.         

His workshops help teachers make the voice and work of students central in the Classroom. Many of these workshops were presented in countries of the former Soviet Union where they helped to promote the skills and dispositions needed in the new democracies. John currently conducts professional development workshops on civic education, Socratic seminars, and student-centered teaching strategies in a variety of locations around the United States, Central Europe, and Asia.

Workshop Description

Socratic seminar training workshops are, by their very nature, highly participatory and interactive. Each day begins with a seminar in which all participate. The texts for these adult seminars are drawn from literature, art, history, mathematics, science or other disciplines. By participating in actual seminars, participants are able to experience what their students might experience and learn the process by doing.

The other hallmark of seminar trainings is the repetition of micro-seminars in the afternoons. These are seminars on smaller texts that are conducted by the participants in small groups. Conducted in a “jigsaw” manner, each person leads a seminar after having time to prepare to do so with fellow participants. The “hands and minds on” aspect of this is extremely powerful as participants do the actual work of preparing for and leading seminars.

The remaining elements of seminar training make participant and leading behaviors explicit, identify the elements of good seminar texts, explore issues related to assessment of seminars, and support the best ways to implement seminars in the participants’ home setting.

Suitable for...

Socratic Seminars can be applied to Elementary, Middle and High school students in a variety of learning communities. They are most effective in literature, social studies, arts and history classes. They are highly beneficial in TOK, psychology and humanities courses as they are aligned with the IB Approaches To Learning such as communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creative thinking skills.

Workshop participants MUST be sufficiently fluent in English to discuss longer and somewhat complex texts.

Course Objectives

By the end of this workshop participants will be able to…

• Conduct effective and authentic Socratic seminar discussions in classrooms.

• Conduct micro-Socratic seminars as a way of learning leading skills.

• Describe the specific elements of a Socratic seminar and how each contributes to the overall
  learning goals of seminars.

• List aspects of effective participation and leadership in Socratic seminars.

• Engage in the process of Socratic questioning and compare it with other forms of classroom

• Discuss issues related to the assessment of Socratic seminars.

• Identify characteristics of high quality texts for use in Socratic seminars that align with
  curriculum expectations and learning goals.

• Work with students to build a culture of Socratic seminars in the classroom such that both
  teacher and student skills improve and become more sophisticated over time.

• Improve skills related to conducting any type of classroom discussion and to more significantly
  value student voice in the classroom

Workshop Programme

Workshop Fee (per participant): Euros 300
(The workshop fee is inclusive of Attendance Certificate, materials, lunch and coffee breaks.)

Registration Details

Further information:
Workshop Coordinator: Ms. Gina Grammatikou
E-mail: ggrammatikou@isa.edu.gr
Phone (Greece 00 30) 210 6233888 ext. 202
Mobile (Greece 00 30) 694 6832273