About Socratic Seminar Lesson Plans

Seminar topic: Darwin’s Origin of Species

The Paideia approach to Socratic seminar is a great way to engage students in active learning while meeting educational curriculum goals. Paideia’s seminar lesson plans are aligned with Common Core State Standards, in order to build essential skills and cover important content.

Teaching Literacy Skills through Socratic Seminar

Paideia lesson plans offer excellent opportunities to teach students all four essential Literacy skills — reading, speaking and listening, and writing — along with critical thinking. Here’s how:

Reading: Each lesson plan starts with activities that get students to thoughtfully engage with the text, first observing, then analyzing what it says. (True to our roots, this method is based on Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book.)

Speaking and Listening: Socratic dialogue hones students’ ability to listen attentively and express themselves clearly.

Writing: Post-seminar writing assignments or other activities ask students to further develop the ideas they expressed in the seminar.

Critical Thinking: The lesson plans include seminar questions that challenge students to generate their own ideas — and then rethink and refine them. This process begins as they read and continues as they write.

Three Ways to Search for Lesson Plans

Grade Level

We offer Socratic Seminar Plans for:

  • Early Elementary
  • Upper Elementary
  • Middle School
  • High School

Subject Area

You can also search for lesson plans for:

  • English and Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Main Ideas

If you’re looking for lesson plans that connect to a theme, you can also search our plans by main ideas, such as love, responsibility, human rights, science, nature, or courage.

Find seminar lesson plans 

Planning Socratic Seminar Questions

During the seminar, the teacher’s role is to ask provocative questions that drive the discussion. If you’re writing your own lesson plans, make sure to outline your seminar questions ahead of time. Socratic seminar questions should be open-ended, thought-provoking, and clear. A seminar lesson plan should include opening questions to engage the students, core questions to challenge them, and closing questions to inspire them to relate the topic to their own lives. Teachers should also be prepared to ask follow-up questions that build on the students’ ideas.

Learn more about how to teach Socratic Seminars