Socratic Smackdown: structured discussions

Although I’ve written a few posts on the topic of how to structure classroom discussions – from software through strategies to Thinking Hats – I’ve frequently been drawn to something called the Socratic Method.

Socratic Smackdown

This, in a very small nutshell, involves the ability to generate ideas and information by asking intelligent questions.

In one form you can see how it works through the construction of analogies: “Society Is Like”, for example, is a simple way to get students both thinking about and understanding sociological perspectives – from functionalism to postmodernism – by likening them to the familiar and everyday.

An alternative way to use this Socratic ideal is to gamify discussions. That is, use the mechanics of game play to make discussions:

  • more-structured: there are rules that need to be followed.
  • participatory: every student is involved in some way.
  • interesting: where involvement is more-meaningful students should develop more-interest in what they’re learning.
  • If you want to run a Socratic Smackdown session as part of your teaching and learning strategy, this handy document created by the Institute of Play contains all you’ll need to get things up-and-running (and for American teachers there’s the added bonus that it also contains details of Common Core Standards Alignment).

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