1st Edition

Socratic Seminars in Middle School
Texts and Films That Engage Students in Reflective Thinking and Close Reading

ISBN 9781138023222
Published December 2, 2014 by Routledge
234 Pages

USD $29.95

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Book Description

Teach students how to engage in thoughtful discussions about a text. Socratic seminars are highly effective at helping students read closely and think critically about what they’ve read. They also teach students how to participate in authentic discussions. This practical book from bestselling authors Victor and Marc Moeller is your go-to guide for getting started! It will help teachers who are new at Socratic seminars and provide fresh ideas to teachers who are experienced with the format. Part I provides guidelines on how to prepare students for discussion and how to form good discussion questions. Part II includes ready-to-use lesson plans organized by compelling themes to engage students. The lesson plans include unabridged literary and nonfiction reading selections from classic and contemporary authors, as well as suggested film pairings.

Authors featured in this book include...

  • William Faulkner
  • Gina Berriault
  • Gene Siskel
  • President Obama
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • Kahil Gibran
  • William Shakespeare
  • Robert Frost
  • William Saroyan
  • Carson McCullers
  • And more!

Table of Contents

Part I: The Socratic Method

1. Two Models of Teaching: Didactic and Socratic

2. What is the Socratic Method of Teaching and Learning

o The Four Rules of Socratic Seminar discussion

3. Techniques of Active and Close Reading: Lesson Plan 1

o Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

o William Saroyan, "Gaston"

4. Three Kinds of Questions: Lesson Plan 2

5. Qualities of Good Discussion Questions: Lesson Plan 3

6. Basic Interpretive Questions: Lesson Plan 4

7. Spontaneous Follow Up Questions. Lesson Plan 5

8. Preparing Students for Discussion: Lesson Plan 6

Part II: Socratic Seminar Readings and Lesson Plans

9. Overview of the Great Book Common Core Curriculum

10. How important is a girlfriend, a brother, or a parent in your life?

11. Is technology more a curse than a blessing? Lesson Plan 9

12. Is the desire to excel as strong as the tendency to be mediocre?

13. Who are your real friends?

14. How important is God in your life?

15. How does someone cope with a death in the family?

APPENDIX: Answer Key

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Victor J. Moeller is an English professor at McHenry Community College in Illinois.

Marc V. Moeller teaches English at Prairie Middle School in the Barrington Community Unit School District in Illinois.


This book will be an excellent resource for principals and other administrators to read in order to get a picture of what is meant by "close reading" and ‘deep analysis of text’."

- Susan Gorman, Director of School Improvement, Osawatomie, KS


Practical, intuitive, and enlightening, this guide brings literature to life for students. Each chapter opens a path for students to unlock the meaning of literature for themselves. Moeller and Moeller’s application of the Socratic method invites true inquiry based on the soul of the human experience. Students are invited into lively, relevant, and serious discussions; at the end, participants can walk away with a deeper understanding of themselves. 

- Vicki Agustsson, High School English Teacher, Bolingbrook, IL