Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Socratic Seminar | Compare and Contrast Reading Questions


Purpose This protocol was created to help individuals understand the meaning of a text at a deeper level, particularly to see how meaning can be constructed and supported by the essential ideas of others. After the students share his / her reasoning, interests, similarities and differences in interpretations, questions will arise as other participants share their thinking without judgment or debate. The presenters share and listen to others insights that should help change or deepen his or her perspective, increasing knowledge.  Students do not need to stick with their unique ideas and they can adapt their ideas without criticism. This protocol is especially helpful when people battle to understand what they are reading. Advanced level Released Reading Comprehension Test with Paired Text Work Well! Compare and Contrast Focus Questions and Prompts!

Compare and Contrast Question Stems and Prompts:
  1. What connections can you find…. about the, themes, characters?
  2. In what ways do the characters think alike/differently in the paired text?
  3. How does this…. contrasting idea affect the outcome?
  4. In what way do different settings in the paired stories affect the outcome?
  5. Which similar details are used by the authors to show us how the characters act with towards each other?
  6. What attitude did the characters display?
  7. Was the…… charters affect important to the tone of the story? 
  8. What do… and….see the plots exposition, the characters think alike/differently in the paired text?
  9. How does the dialogue help you understand the affect of the characters and their potential actions?


1. Have each cooperative group select a time keeper and “Boss” facilitator.

2. All students may read the entire text “TEST” or cooperative groups may read various parts of the texts on a common subject for a jigsaw learning activity. Text selection is a critical step and needs to have advanced or above grade level text complicity.

3. Participants read silently or with a reading buddy and text-code, records relevant ideas using Lotus or Cornell notes,  or use a teacher made form or document that records desired learning targets.

4. Students mark, rank and annotate passages for discussion clearly, so they can quickly locate the passage later during discussions. To promote critical and higher order thinking, design prompts and question for the discussions that ask participants to include reasons why they selected a particular passage.  Using released tests gives teachers ready made prompts and reading comprehension questions. Students need to use text evidence that supports their particular view pints, opinions and connections.

5. Students share 2-3 relevant passages and his or her reasoning why they selected them.

6. Each participant offers commentary on which sentence or passage was ranked the highest and why they think is was critical to answer the prompt or question. Sharing during the seminar is done in less than 2 minutes.

7. The first presenter gets the very last word, sharing how his / her reasoning evolved and or changed, how they deepened their understanding after hearing students emphasizing what they found important to them.

8. Every student must take the role of presenter.
9. Debrief Contextual Ideas Discussion: How others impacted your thinking.

10. Debrief Questions: What worked in our discussion? What were some challenges? Just how can we enhance this seminar next time?

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