In a Socratic Seminar activity, students help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a text through a group discussion format. Students are responsible for facilitating their group discussion around the ideas in the text; they shouldn’t use the discussion to assert their opinions or prove an argument. Through this type of discussion, students practice how to listen to one another, make meaning, and find common ground while participating in a conversation.
If you have never done a Socratic Seminar activity with your students before, you might spend a few moments brainstorming the qualities that would make for a great seminar. These qualities or criteria can be explained on a rubric and used to evaluate the seminar at the end of the class period. Criteria you might use to evaluate a Socratic Seminar activity include engagement (everyone listening and sharing), respect (no interruptions or put-downs), meaning-making (students understand the text more deeply at the end of the seminar), and use of evidence (comments always refer back to the text).
We've released a new digital edition of Holocaust and Human Behavior. We're working on updating all of our content to reflect the new resources and scholarship. For now, some content on this page may reference the previous edition.