Monday, April 22, 2013

Paideia Seminar: Part One

Recently, our school AIG teacher lead an afternoon of Common Core PD.  I have to admit, I was skeptical at first.  When I heard we were learning about "seminar" I thought, "How in the world does this pertain to my kids?" I had never heard of it and knew it was introduced to 5th grade by her earlier on in the year.. All I could think was "I really hope this afternoon is not going to be a waste!"  It definitely wasn't.

For anybody who hasn't heard of Paideia Seminar, it's basically a way to get kids holding conversations about pretty much anything.  It requires kids to listen to what other's are saying and be an active participant by responding to what other participants are talking about (Common core!).  In a perfect world, the facilitator (YOU) would just have to ask some questions and then the kids will lead the way.  In many cases, you may just have to ask an opening question and that will get the kids talking, listening, responding, connecting to a text, to their life, to what others are saying.. They answer the questions you had on your plan without even being asked because they are thinking deeply about the text and building on what others bring to the table. Oh, you just MIGHT have to stop them if you run out of time (Awe shucks)!

We held our first seminar last week (our AIG teacher came in a facilatated for us!).  It was definitely less than perfect but for our first one, I was happy.  First, the kiddos read a short passage and wrote down anything they were thinking. This story was about a horse who really wanted to be a tap dancer.  So she practiced and practiced.  When she thought she was good enough, she held a recital for her friends.  Her friends were less than impressed.  They told her she could not dance, she was just an animal like the rest of them.  The horse didn't let her friends get to her and continued to dance which made her very happy!


We went over rules (Coming to a post soon!) and set up our chairs in the circle so that everyone knew we were all equal contributors to the conversation.

Then of course came the conversation.  We talked about things like how the horse felt.  Had there ever been a time where you felt like that?  How did you handle it?  Did the friends make the right decision when they told her she couldn't dance?  What would you have done?  Would you have told the horse the truth?  Is it ever OK to lie to someone if you are going to hurt their feelings?  
The conversation needed A LOT of prompting from our facilitator.  But our goal is to be able to hold meaningful and purposeful conversations where we are able to link back to the text and are comfortable enough to share our own thoughts and questions.  Hopefully without a lot of prompting from me!  All in all, I am so excited to use this more frequently in my room and only wish I knew about it at the beginning of the year!
Keep a look out for more Seminar posts coming soon  (Rules, A Seminar Plan, Choosing texts, and more) so you can hold a seminar in your room (From grades K-12)!  

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