Office Hours: Can Socratic Discussion Help Prepare for the SAT?

December 8, 2016

Sitting around talking about good books sounds like a great idea in theory. Nourishing the souls of our students and helping them become more fully human might just be the most important part of education. However, as much as you may want to avoid it, colleges look for some other hard and fast details when they look over student applications. Is there any way that having Socratic discussions now can have a practical effect? Will it help improve their test scores in the moment so that they can go to college and keep working on becoming more fully human?

Gee, wouldn't it be great if Socratic discussion could help both now and later? Next Office Hours we're gathering around to talk SAT/ ACT exams, and to see if the entire foundation of the CenterForLit approach can be practical as well as philosophically pleasing. 

Office Hours: Grading a Socratic Discussion

September 22, 2016

Talking about books is great! You get to discuss important ideas, your students learn to think well, it builds relationships, and you're even pretty sure that it might be the central activity to a good education. But there's just one thing nagging at you...how in blazes are you supposed to grade your student on a conversation?? I mean, we'd all do away with grades if we could, but there is that pesky transcript thing.

Time for another Office Hours! We've told you that Socratic discussions are the bomb, and now we won't leave you in the dark when it comes to thinking about some practical details. And with the new school year beginning, we figured it'd be a good time to have this conversation. Take a break from the back-to-school busyness to gather with the Pelicans and brainstorm about grading a Socratic discussion!

Office Hours: Choosing the Right Books

August 18, 2016

Fall is coming sooner than all of us would like, and this season always looms with the burden of endless possibilities. There are millions upon millions of books in the world, and we could choose any of them to put on our students' booklists this year. How in blazes are we supposed to choose?? And if we do choose, what if we make the wrong decisions? How do we know which books are the right ones for our students? 

These will be the questions on the table at our next Pelican Society Office Hours. Let's have coffee and encourage each other! Maybe we can throw some peace into the mix when it comes to that booklist this year. 

Office Hours: Teaching with Socratic Discussion

July 7, 2016

Socrates. It's one of those dusty old names that you know is really important, seems a little beyond your reach, and makes you feel kind of insufficient. Add to that the fact that there's an entire method of teaching named after this illusive figure which you've been told is the one critical key to your child's success... and now you just want to either give up or cry!

But there's no need! Let's dial it back a bit. Let's forget about the unnecessary pressure that comes with the word "Socratic" and focus on the basics. It's just about questions! And while they may not save the universe, questions can be a really helpful tool for really engaging your students with the subject material at hand and leaving them with a lasting impression of what you teach. 

This July in Office Hours we're talking about Socratic Discussion, and we're going to reveal the man behind the curtain. We'll figure out what this method means and why it's useful, and strategize together about how you can begin to implement it in your classroom. We hope we'll see you for our next Pelican Society coffee date on July 7 at 1:00 PST/ 4:00 EST!  

Office Hours: Reluctant Readers

June 9, 2016

Okay, so you're on board with teaching literature using the Socratic Method. You might even be pretty good at it if your students would just give you a chance! But no matter what you do, Johnny and Mary just won't sit down and finish a book. What's to be done??

Well, we have good news for you. You're not a failure! You're not even unusual!! It's one of the most common problems in the educational world, and this Office Hours is going to be just for you. So whether you're in the trenches now or have conquered the war and have some wisdom to share with the rest of us, let's gather for some idea-swapping and encouragement on June 9 at 1:00 PST / 4:00 EST.

Office Hours: Teaching Multi-Age Classes

May 3, 2016

It can be hard enough trying to stay on track and engage successfully with one student, but how in the world are you supposed keep the attention of the rest of your children? How do you make sure each student gets the most out of their day, especially when they are an impossible range of abilities and learning levels and you are only one person? 

Cloning technology probably won't catch up with our needs any day soon, but we may have some help to offer you in the meantime! Adam and Missy have about 20 years of experience educating their six children (no twins!), and will be available at 1:00 Pacific Time on May 5 to discuss this familiar problem. 

Office Hours: The Tyranny of the Booklist

February 25, 2016

Say you have two high-schoolers, one student in junior high, and another in elementary. The high-schoolers each have 10 books that you absolutely must teach them this year so that they can be prepared to get into college. The junior-higher has another 8, and somehow you still need to read aloud to the little.  Sure, maybe you could do this if you spent every waking hour reading books...but somehow meals still need to get made and the laundry needs to be folded! Oh yeah, and I guess we have to make time for science and math at some point. It's enough to make you pull out your hair! How on earth are you supposed to survive?? Do we just need to give up dreams of college?

Enter the lie. It's called "The Tyranny of the Booklist." And it's what we'll be chatting about in our next Office Hours session on February 25 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. So grab a cup of coffee and bring those booklists. We're going to have a list-burning.