This week, Walton Middle School seventh grade ELA teachers Ms. Tara Manson and Mrs. Chastity McLaney designed a lesson that afforded students the opportunity to engage in a lively academic discussion about a text they read in class.  After reading the essay "America the Not So Beautiful" by Andrew Rooney, students participated in a Socratic Seminar.  In a Socratic Seminar, students help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a text through a group discussion format.  After tracing and evaluating the author's claim, students responsibly facilitated a group discussion around the question:  Does the author use sound reasoning and sufficient and relevant evidence for his argument?  Students must rely on the text's details as they articulate their ideas.  Through this type of discussion, students practice how to listen to one another, make meaning, and find common ground while participating in a conversation.  Through thoughtful lesson design, the teachers created a safe space in which students felt safe to collaborate and contribute.  Throughout the academic conversation, students were productively engaged and invested in their learning.
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