What am I hoping for again in tomorrow’s class?

I want the older kids to get practice speaking to each other in a respectful conversation where they make eye contact ocassionally and listen to each other.  I think that maybe the Socratic Circles method, where they take turns being the inner circle to discuss a text, and the outer circle that evaluates the inner circle’s communication methods will help them: if I can pick good objects for discussion for the last 5 classes.  Sometimes their conversations sound like turn taking for jokes and showing off – well, adult conversations do to.

I’m not sure if I should spend tomorrow’s introductory time on thoughts about good communication, the benefits of different kinds of talks, and what we are going to be doing, or if I should be introducing our discussion topic of the life of Florence Nightingale, or both.  There is a 30 min NEST video I could use, but if I read aloud the chapter from Celebrating Women in Mathematics and Science, they would know more facts in less time.  Of course, the video has more pictures, and shows her family life in a way that is accessible…

I never found a biography to set them to read that I liked, and two more have come in on reserve for me at the library.  The reading levels of the kids in my class vary tremendously.

Things they could discuss in the Socratic Circle:

The poem Santa Philomena, the poem Charge of the Light Brigade, some of Florence’s letters? Her famous diagram of causes of mortality, her account of God’s call in her life, comparing and contrasting the biographer’s take on the cause of her adult invalidism? Passages from Tolstoy’s Serbastobal sketches?  Excerpts from Mother Seacole’s autobiography?  Passages from Florence’s Notes on Nursing?

They might be a bit steep for some of my 5th graders!

I only have to pick one piece for next week’s Socratic Circle today, and decide on the introduction.  I can figure out the rest later.  Phew.

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