Socratic Circles are a great way to engage students around a provocative question - students are engaged with the topic, encouraged to think about complex topics with a critical eye, and inspired to explore big ideas.
However, it can be a challenge to give all students a voice in a Socratic Circle that is 30+ students big...there are time, space, and personality constraints that sometimes mean the conversation is dominated by just a few voices.
By leveraging digital tools, you can mitigate these constraints and give all of your students a voice - thus giving all students the opportunity to explore their own thinking as well as their classmate's.
We recently had the good fortune to be able to spend some time at Wheeling Elementary in 4th and 5th grade classrooms using chromebooks in this manner.
The Socratic Circles were set up as inner and outer circles, with the inner circle being students participating in the usual way - responding to each other's thoughts without talking over each other, using respectful discourse. The outer circle students were using their chromebooks to respond to the discussion via the discussion feature in google classroom.
The engagement of the students in both circles was high, every student had a voice, and the ability for each group to function at a higher level was increased: the inner circle discussion was more robust because of the smaller number of participants, the outer circle discussion was lively and engaged because they could respond to the discussion in real time, instead of having to wait until the inner circle finished to share their thoughts.
Take a look: