Designing Effective Projects : Questioning
The Socratic Questioning Technique


Socratic Questioning Example
This questioning dialogue would take place after the project had been introduced and was well underway. 

Teacher:   What is happening to our global climate?
Stan: It’s getting warmer.
Teacher: How do you know it’s getting warmer? What evidence do you have to support your answer?
Stan: It’s in the news all of the time. They are always saying that it’s not as cold as it used to be. We have all of these record heat days.
Teacher: Has anyone else heard of this kind of news?
Denise: Yeah. I have read about it the newspaper.  They call it global warming, I think.
Teacher: Are you saying that you learned about global warming from newscasters? Are you assuming they know that global warming is occurring?
Heidi: I heard it too. It’s terrible. The ice caps in the Arctic are melting. The animals are losing their homes. I think the newscasters hear it from the scientists that are studying the issue.
Teacher: If that is the case and the scientists are telling the newscasters, how do the scientists know?
Chris: They have instruments to measure climate. They conduct research that measures the Earth’s temperature.
Teacher: How long do you think scientists have been doing this?
Grant: Probably 100 years.
Candace: Maybe a little more than that.
Teacher: Actually, it’s been studied for about 140 years. Since about 1860.
Heidi: We were close.
Teacher:   Yes. How did you know that?
Grant: I just figured that seems like when instruments were available and scientists had the means to measure climate like that.
Teacher: So, looking at the last 100 year’s climate on this graph, what can we say about the earth’s climate?
Raja: The 20th century has become much warmer than previous centuries.
Teacher: Can we hypothesize why?
Raja: One word: pollution.
Teacher: What are you assuming when you say that pollution is the cause for the temperatures to rise?
Heidi: Carbon dioxide from cars causes pollution and chemicals from factories.
Frank: Hair spray causes dangerous chemicals to get into the atmosphere.
Teacher:  Okay. Let’s take a minute to review what we’ve discussed so far.

View the Project Plan, Literature e-Circles* (Original project - not adapted) to see a Socratic Seminar in practice.

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