Podcast #60: Team Building, Online, and Socratic Circles (NMSA08)

Math Problem:
If your father gets $300 and gives your mother half, what does she have?
Why did the student tell his parents that low grades in January weren’t a problem?
What did Paul Revere say at the end of his ride?
The plural of man is men. What is the plural of child?
What is a synonym?  (It’s like the Rats of Nymh … The Sin O’Nym … ?)

Items, Events, Calendar, Eclectic Stuff (truc et chose)

  1. NMSA’s Middle Level Essentials Conference April 23-24, 2009. Robert Balfanz will be keynoting.  He has done a bunch of research on 6th grade transition factors that has been cited by NMSA.
  2. NMSA ‘09 Invitation Video
  3. Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Annual Conference March 12 & 13 at White Pine Middle School in Saginaw Township.  Mr. Ron Clark will be keynoting.
  4. Ohio Middle School Association’s Annual Conference will be February 19-20 in Sandusky, OH.  Keynote speakers this year include Mr. Mark McLeod and Mr. Ty Sells.
  5. MIT Vocab Contest!:  Have your students produce a video defining standard SAT vocabulary words.  For every 5 videos uploaded one iTunes download will be awarded up to 1000 downloads per the event in total.  In other words, get ‘am in early and often if you’re looking for the iTunes motivator.  Only 1000 available for the entire WORLD!  Oh, and check out the website.
  6. The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform will be holding their annual conference in June.  See the flyer at their website for details.
  7. NMSA is accepting presentation proposals to their Annual Conference in Indianapolis next year.
  8. Interested in a Science Quiz show online and in a virtual game show environment?  Try The Second Question.
  9. NECC is coming this summer!  Here’s an excuse to travel to Washington D.C.
  10. If Mr. Berckemeyer dawdles on getting us the Kindles, soon we’ll want these from Plastic Logic.  “Did you bring pencil, eraser, and epaper with you to class today?”
  11. Saturday, January 17th, 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern / 5pm GMT: “Google Forms.” The Newbie Question of the Week will be: “What is a feedreader and why do I need one?” Information on how to watch or join in at http://live.classroom20.com.
  12. Second Life notices:
    • 1/22 ISTE Island Social:  Data Visualization- using graphs in SL to visualize data.
    • 1/25 ISTE Island Tours.  Travel with ISTE and see the SL world.

Web Spotlight

Pasco schools say virtual ed’s a real budget breaker
As Pasco schools look to the future of education, online courses for kindergarten through eighth grade rate high on the priority list. “I’m not being funded to do it. I’m just being told I have to do it,” said Fiorentino, who is leading a statewide effort to get a reprieve. “We just can’t afford doing it this year.” She said her staff has estimated the startup costs for the program — including such things as curriculum development and infrastructure — could run as high as $1-million. Although over time it would be expected to become self-sufficient, the school’s initial price tag looks too steep when the district can’t even afford employee raises, she added.

Hard times cut state cyber school enrollments
The state’s 11 cyber charter schools — online, at-home alternatives to traditional public schools — are the latest victims of the recession. Facing the threat of layoffs or mortgage foreclosures, some parents are sending their children back to brick-and-mortar public schools because a stay-at-home spouse had to get a job, said Joe Lyons, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School in Norristown, second-largest in the state.

Davis sixth-grader’s science experiment breaks new ground
By Niesha Lofing

University of California, Davis, scientists are redirecting their research after a professor’s son discovered that a major agricultural pest prefers pistachios over other nuts.

The sixth-grader’s experiment showed that female navel orangeworms preferred to lay their eggs in pistachios rather than almonds or walnuts, and researchers now are trying to use the information to better control the pests, according to the California Farm Bureau.


Economy brings reprieve to teacher shortage

Fair Isn’t Always Equal
First Chapter Free

Net threat to minors less than feared.

Unexpected Twist: Fiction Reading Is Up
Survey Shows Reversal Of Longstanding Trend

For the first time since the NEA began surveying American reading habits in 1982 — and less than five years after it issued its famously gloomy “Reading at Risk” report — the percentage of American adults who report reading “novels, short stories, poems or plays” has risen instead of declining: from 46.7 percent in 2002 to 50.2 percent in 2008.

Socratic Circles presentation (Ballroom 3)
Mary Dooms, Marge Strand of Lake Zurich Middle School South, Lake Zurich, Illinois
email:  marge.strand@lz95.org  and  mary.dooms@lz95.org
Book:  Socratic Circles by Matt Copeland
Rooted in Socrates’ philosophy that critical thinking and reason skills ar enhanced when the learneer begins to question.
Questioning continues the though process while answers stop it.
Develop critical thinking skills
Construct meaning
Deepen understanding
Shift responsibility for group discussion from the teacher to the student
Practice reading strategies
Build vocabulary
Improve verbal and written expression
Enhance listening skills
Practice civility and respect.
Socratic Circle Process Overview
Step One:  Text selection is read and critically annotated.
Step Two:  Students question reading based on:
Step Three:  Students meet in two concentric circles.
Inner circle discusses text.
Outer circle observes dialogue.
Step Four:  Concentric circles are reversed.
Debrief:  What did you notice here?
What was the best question asked here?
What was the best answer here?
Step Five:  Written reflection pieces are completed.
Keys to a successful circle
Teacher preparation – assume nothing!
Select the reading/media for analysis
Determine the essential question(s)
Determine the behaviors to be assessed (rubric here)
Find a good video of a Socratic circle to teach them how to behave and how to make it work.
Who looks engaged and who looks on task?
Who looks at others?
Prepare the students
Model process of annotating text and developing insightful questions.
Discuss assessment criteria and expectations using Looks Like/Sounds Like T-Chart (Frayer Model)
Inner Circle Engaged/On Task
Looks Like
Eyes focused on speaker
Leaning In
Pens moving
Pages turning to refer to text
Sounds like
“Based on what you said, I’m not thinking …”
“I had trouble understanding why …”
“I agree/disagree with what you say because …”
Put it on chart paper and pull it out during the year.
Teach the behaviors that allow them to engage in conversation with each other respectfully.
Inner Circle Encourages Participation – Let’s complete a T-chart
Looks Like:
Turn towards the person
nonverbal cues
Hand touching arm of another student
Eyes on a non-participant as verbal invitation to participate is given
Gentle smile of encouragement
Sounds Like:
“Looks like Joe has something to say …”
Do you want to add something?
Outer Circle Observation Mode
Looks Like:
Pens moving on paper
Eyes on group
Leaning in
Sounds Like
Pens moving across the page
Silent voices.
Outer Circle Feedback Mode
Looks Like
Eyes on ourter circle speaker
Patiently witing turn by sitting still.
Sounds Like:
“When Ben asked the question …., the discussion shifted from … to …”
“Claire’s pen tapping was a bit much.”
“The group compared … to, and that made the reading easier to understand. ”
A Socratic Circle on the novel The Book Theif:  A group of 7th graders meet to gain a deeper understanding of the book.  (Emmit Till:  the book)
Always stop it short of completely talking about the topic.
Lets run a Socratic Circle
… on the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Pledge of Allegiance:  “I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
This pledge is something that we say every day in school.  Yet, it is something we do not analyze very often.  Consider the following:
Choice of words
What exactly is being said?
Why is there controversy about saying this in school?
Do students have the right not to say the pledge?
Wy would someone object to saying the pledge?
Mock Circle Debriefing
Observations and feedback from the outer circle
Audience critique (+/-)
Reflection on Content form
Reflection on Performance form
Socratic Circle Feedback form.
Use Kagan gambit chips to engage in conversation and regulate the number of times a student participates
Examples for the Teaching Process
Pledge of Allegiance
“Born in the U.S.A.” lyrics
The Gettysburg Address