Essential Questions: How do people respond to institutions that do not fit their needs? Why do we fear Communism?
If it is one thing that students across the board tend to struggle with... It's Communism! This seminar is designed to help students not only understand the concept of Marx and his theory, but also question why it always fails in practice, and why democratic countries fear communist countries historically.
This lesson contains seven documents and prepares students for a discussion on Communism across history. Evidently students will not only understand Marxism, but students will be able to apply their knowledge of Communism to various revolutions that they will learn about throughout the year, including the Russian and Chinese Revolutions.
Socratic Seminars are one of my favorite methods of instruction because its is student facilitated discussion in its truest form. Although some teachers are hesitant to try, most of the time it is because of improper preparation/training on how to conduct one.
I typically do one seminar a month at least, and while at first my students were uncomfotable with the idea, they now always ask when we start a new unit when we are doing another seminar! I love it because, as a teacher of both students with and without special needs, it allows ALL students to have a voice, especially those who struggle to express themselves in writing.
Socratic Seminars are usually critiqued because they do not provide teachers with quantitative data, but what some teachers fail to see is the authentic qualitative data it presents.
This seminar is a two day lesson that was designed to be conducted at the end of an introduction to Communism/Capitalism OR conducted at the end of the Russian Revolution. I conducted it before we began the Cold War. Each document ends with students responding to scaffolded questions that will prepare students for the seminar on day two. They take home the documents on day one to study, and are expected to come prepared to have an open forum the next day.
The lesson provides seminar guidelines as well as rubrics for students that may not want to actively participate in the discussion. Those students, who can be grouped by choice or based on who you as educators see as non verbal participants, will be assigned an active speaker to critique throughout the seminar (I began this method with my students at the beginning of the year but now most, if not all, students participate!)
This lesson consists of documents for day one, guidelines, a rubric, and sample questions to ask during the seminar. However, as teachers, I have found that the best form of questioning stems from student generated thoughts. The lesson was designed as a cumulative way to wrap up the concept of nuclear technology after students study the devastation of the atomic bomb, and will provide teachers with feedback as to who met and did not meet the units objectives.