This is what the Socratic Circle looked like in Elisse's room. The students in the inner circle were conversing about the unit of study. The students in the outer circle were asked to sit silently and listen carefully to the conversation. They had a rubric in front of them which they used to evaluate the conversation they were hearing. After 45 minutes, the inner and outer circle swapped roles.
Elisse Newey came to me several weeks ago with a brilliant idea. Seems her husband had been using Evernote as a sort of online collection point for the work he was doing towards his PhD. She was intrigued with its capabilities and wanted to give it a try in her classroom for her Social Studies unit on the road to Texas's independence. She loved the idea of students being able to create tags to organize their work and she was hopeful that all of the artifacts and information that students gathered over the course of the unit would be helpful when they closed their unit with a Socratic Circle. I was able to be in the classroom for some of each of the sections of the project and what I saw was student engagement, deep learning and amazing conversations. For Elise, this is all in a day's work.She is constantly looking for ways to challenge and engage her students and my favorite part of any day is when she pokes her head in my office and says, "I have some questions for you!". Here are some pictures of Elise's project.
This week, I got a chance to see the follow up to Elisse's adventures into Evernote. After gathering their notes and materials in Evernote and after experiencing the Socratic Circle, groups of 4 or 5 developed a presentation that encompassed all that they had learned from their portion of the unit of study. Each group uploaded their presentation into eBacpack. Elisse then created a shared folder of all of the presentations in eBackpack so that as a group presented to the class, their audience was viewing the presentation on their iPads via eBackpack. Once again, Elisse had ensured the total engagement of her students in an activity that is sometimes tedious for 4th Graders.