I have been reading up on Socratic questioning lately because it is a method I want to implement more in my classroom. You might think, "Isn't that just asking more questions?" Uh, yea it kind of is. However, for it to be effective you have to have a pretty decent command of the subject material, and there are a few basic principles you need to follow. I had never really considered the merit of Socratic questioning until it came up in one of my graduate classes a few weeks ago.
So today I gave it a shot. During a complex science lesson on lenses, I started asking questions. The students began answering almost in unison. Granted, these were not easy questions. Every time they gave me a response, I followed up with another question. There was some pretty serious thinking going on, and I was pretty amazed at what my little friends were able to come up with. Also, letting all of the students call out answers at random just worked. It was almost like I was one on one with each student. I could easily tell who was "getting it" and who has some major misconceptions that need to be cleared up. All in all, the lesson was a huge success.
It should be said that this little bright spot was pretty minor in the context of a tough, draining day. (It should also be said that these days are rarely caused by the students. Today was no exception.) As I trudged through the woods to my car, I checked my email on my phone. Amid the usual junk was an email from my Mom. Would you believe the email was a link to an amazing article about the power of Socratic questioning? I didn't think you would, so here is a link to the article she sent. http://www.garlikov.com/Soc_Meth.html
Pretty powerful stuff. I think I actually understand the base 2 number system after reading the questions this guy asked a group of third graders. Sorry Daniel, but I was lying all those times I pretended to understand it before. Oh, and thanks Mom.