Communication skills are key to 21st Century success.
How to teach Speaking and Listening standards
While some people think of Socratic seminar as any form of teaching through questions, Paideia uses a more specific definition: seminar is a collaborative, intellectual dialogue that is facilitated with open-ended questions about a text. This type of classroom discussion directly contributes to the skills described in the state anchor standards for speaking and listening, especially these four:
- Anchor standard #1: Participate in conversations. Students must be prepared to take part in a range of conversations and collaborations, “building on others’ ideas and expressing their own.”
- Anchor standard #3: Evaluate statements by others. Students must be able to “evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, use of evidence and rhetoric.”
- Anchor standard #4. Make a clear argument. Students must be able to “present information, findings and supportive evidence so that listeners can follow the line of reasoning.”
- Anchor standard #6: Adapt speech, using appropriate formality. While students may use more colloquial language during seminars, they go on to express their ideas in formal English in follow-up writing assignments.
Speaking and listening are learned skills, like reading and writing.
In fact, speaking and listening are skills that can be taught in the classroom, much like reading and writing. And educators must teach these skills, if we are to prepare students for success in their careers, their communities, and their personal lives.
At first, students’ lack of communication skills may be evident in seminars. But with teachers’ guidance and coaching, students improve. To build speaking and listening abilities, Paideia recommends a five-step process for teaching seminars. This process includes setting specific goals before each seminar and assessing progress after each seminar.
See more on how to teach a Socratic seminar.