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How do I use these worksheets in my own classroom?

Short answer:

Worksheets are assigned to students for individual and group study prior to class time. During class time, students discuss their research and conclusions with the instructor and their peers, with the instructor challenging students to explore the concepts further through additional questioning.

Long answer:

The way I've used "Socratic worksheets" to teach at the two-year college where I work, students engage with the questions in a three-step process. First, they work through as many questions as they can on their own outside of class, using whatever resources are available to them (books, internet, instructional videotapes, actual experiments). Next, they come to class and work in small groups, sharing their research and problem-solving strategies with one another. I have found that assigning specific questions to specific student groups is an excellent way to economize on class time (as opposed to all the small groups discussing every question). While working together in small groups, I visit them to check on their progress and help them with any questions they may have from their research. This is an excellent time for me to help students requiring extra assistance.

After the "small group time" is over, we join as one large group to discuss our findings. During this last step of the process, I call on student groups to present their answers, their problem-solving method(s), and their information sources for each question they discussed with each other. After each student group gives their answer, I call on other students to offer their insights to the question. This gives each and every student opportunity to learn from their peers. These discussion times serve as natural venues for assessing student engagement with the course material. Even if a student is struggling to understand the concepts, they will still be able to demonstrate effort by sharing what information sources they have consulted, what problem-solving methods they did try, and where along the line of questions in the worksheet things became confusing. Peer review may also comprise a portion of their grade for the course.

As the instructor, I offer additional information only where I deem appropriate: in conditions where the question is especially challenging, or when personal experience may serve to illuminate the answer(s) offered by students. These "mini-lectures" are appropriate because the students' minds have been primed through deep exposure to the material.

Short quizzes on the day's material (one before class starts, and one at the end of class) help greatly to ensure student preparation prior to class and student engagement during class.

Not only do worksheets help organize student study efforts outside of class (with everyone working to solve the same questions), but they also help organize the course itself. Comprehensive worksheets document the course in fine detail, and lend themselves very well to peer review. Administrators, program advisors, and fellow instructors alike are free to review the details of course content and suggest improvements/additions/deletions. The particular worksheets I use in my teaching come complete with a recommended daily schedule on the front page and a list of skill standards on the second page addressed by the content within.

The worksheets themselves are divided up into three sections: Questions, Answers, and Notes. The Answer sections of their worksheets give just enough information to let them know whether they're "on the right track" to answering the question, rarely suggesting how the question might be answered or where to look for an answer. The Notes section of each worksheet is not printed for the students, but kept by myself for my own reference while teaching (not that any of the Notes sections on this website contain anything a student shouldn't see!).

The only disadvantage of Socratic worksheets that I've experienced is the time necessary to create them. In order to completely replace traditional lecture methods, the worksheet(s) must be absolutely comprehensive. This is the prime reason I've presented my work on the internet: to help other instructors apply this efficient teaching method by allowing them to build upon my efforts. In turn, I will benefit from the help of any interested instructors who choose to contribute to the project by their editing of existing worksheet questions, or by their submission of new questions for inclusion into existing worksheets.

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