Katie Guidry. Socratic Seminar: The Gettysburg Address

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1 Katie Guidry Socratic Seminar: The Gettysburg Address Overview: The Gettysburg Address is both a document and topic that students encounter in any early American history class. Most students can identify it as a significant document of the Civil War as well as Abraham Lincoln as the author. However, most students do not read the speech in depth because often it is only mentioned in passing. They rarely gain an understanding of the meaning behind the speech. Therefore, it is important that students have an opportunity to explore the Gettysburg Address as a notable speech in United States history as well as discuss it in depth to gain a better understanding of what Abraham Lincoln was trying to tell America. In this Socratic Seminar, the class will be divided in half in order to have more intimate groups for discussion. One half of the class will participate in the seminar, while the other half does an alternative activity with the other teacher. They switch positions halfway through class. After the class has been divided, the teacher will engage the students by having them read the Gettysburg Address. Students will then have to complete a ticket in order to participate in the discussion. This ticket is designed to guide the students through a basic understanding of the speech as well as prepare them for the discussion. Once the students have completed the ticket, the teacher will ask the opening question. From there, the students will continue the discussion, while the teacher acts as the facilitator. It is important that the discussion is student-centered. When the discussion has ended, the teacher will debrief with the students to check their understanding of the content. After this lesson, students should have a deeper understanding of the Gettysburg Address as well as improved discussion skills. Rationale: This is an important lesson to teach students as it incorporates several VA SOLs and NCSS standards. It also uses critical thinking and oral communication skills, and allows for student-centered learning through group discussion. It is also important to teach students because they do not always study the Gettysburg Address in detail. In particular, students often do not learn the meaning behind the speech. Furthermore, it is important to teach students appropriate discussion skills so they will be prepared for future lessons and classes. Ultimately, by analyzing the document in depth, the students will both increase their understanding of the topic as well as improve their discussion skills. Grade/Class: 6 th grade-u.s. History to 1877 Length: 45 minutes for ½ of the class (90 minutes total) Background Information: From previous lessons, students will have learned about different events and important people of the Civil War leading up to the moment Abraham Lincoln gave his

2 Gettysburg Address speech. They will also receive guidance on appropriate discussion skills from the teacher before beginning the seminar. Objectives: 1. Students will be able to describe the role of Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address during the Civil War after class discussion and when ask to do so. (USI.9d and NCSS Xa) 2. Students will be able to analyze a notable historical speech and identify it as a primary document by participating in a Socratic Seminar. (USI.1a, e, h and NCSS IVh) Assessment: For this lesson, students will be assessed informally through their written responses to the seminar ticket as well as their oral responses during the seminar. The teacher should check for understanding of the content and good communication skills. The students will also be assessed formally through their participation in the seminar and their homework assignment. Students will receive full credit for participation if they complete the seminar ticket, participate at least once in the discussion, and complete the notecard questions. These questions ask the students to evaluate their performance in the discussion. For the homework assignment, students will complete the Seminar Reflection worksheet in their student packet. They should use complete sentences. Content and Instructional Strategies: A. Seminar Text: The Gettysburg Address (p. 538 of textbook) 1. Opening Question: What is the main idea of this speech? 2. Core Questions: What is the main idea of this speech? What was the author trying to accomplish in this speech? What was the purpose of this speech? 3. Potential Follow-up Questions: Who is the author? Who is the audience? What events surrounded this speech? B. Preparation for Seminar/Ticket: For preparation for the seminar, students will spend a few minutes at the beginning of the discussion reading through the speech and completing the ticket. The purpose of the ticket is to get the students to think critically about the speech as well as to prepare them for the opening question. By completing the ticket, students will be prepared to begin the seminar. The teacher will also discuss good discussion skills with the students. For this lesson, these include not raising hands, support statements with the text, no personal attacking, discuss what is in the text and not personal opinions about the issues, and build off of each others statements. The teacher should be sure to model these skills for the students by providing examples of how to appropriately participate in the seminar. Furthermore, the teacher should communicate the expectations and responsibilities of the students before they begin the seminar. They include following the seminar rules, participating at least once, and actively listening. It

3 is important that students know the rules and expectations in order to have an effective seminar. C. Room Arrangement: The room will be divided into two different sections for this lesson. In one section, half of the class (about 15 students) will participate in the Socratic Seminar with the Student Teacher. The other half of the class (about 15 students) will do an alternative activity with the Cooperating Teacher. The students will switch positions half way through class. For the Socratic Seminar half of the room, the desks will be arranged in a tight circle to ensure that everyone can see and hear each other. The Student Teacher will act as the seminar facilitator and will also be seated in the circle. The teacher should also divide the class in half ahead of time and prepare a list to post on the board, so the students know where to sit when they enter the classroom. D. Procedures for Seminar (40 minutes for ½ of the class-80 minutes total): 1. The classroom will be arranged the day before the lesson and a list will be posted on the board telling the students where to sit. 2. As the students enter the classroom, they should find their assigned seats; take out their unit packet, paper, and writing utensils; and be prepared for class to begin. 3. Tell the students to open to p. 538 in their textbook and page 5a in their student packet. Explain that they should read the speech and answer the questions on page 5a of their packet. (10 minutes for each ½ of the class) 4. Once the students have finished reading and have completed their ticket, go over the procedure with them. a. Explain that the purpose of the seminar is gain a deep understanding of the text they have read. Be sure to explain that is it not about arguing their opinion of the issues. b. Discuss the rules. c. Discuss their expectations/responsibilities. 5. Begin the discussion by asking the opening question: What is the main idea of the speech? (30 minutes for each ½ of the class) a. As facilitator, be sure to allow the students to be the main voice of the discussion. The students should build off of one another, while the teacher observes the progression of the discussion. 6. Once the group has discussed the opening question, begin asking follow-up questions. At this point the progression of the seminar is fluid. a. As facilitator, remember to guide the students through the main points of the speech, but do not dominate the discussion. 7. If necessary, remind the students of the rules and expectations. E. Post-Seminar and Debrief (5 minutes for ½ of the class-10 minutes total): 1. After 30 minutes of discussion, discuss the main points of the speech with the students.

4 2. After a couple of minutes, pass out a notecard to each student. a. Ask the students to write one thought about the seminar, one thing they did well, and one thing can improve on for next time. b. Collect the notecards when the students are finished. 3. After that, briefly tell the students what you thought went well and what they can improve on for next time. 4. HOMEWORK: Complete the seminar reflection worksheet on page 5b of the student packet. 5. Be sure to have the class switch positions half way through the period (after about 45 minutes). Resources: -Student textbook: America: History of Our Nation (Prentice Hall) *p. 538 Skills for Life: Analyze a Speech -Student packet, which includes the following: *seminar ticket *seminar reflection -Notecards (one for each student) -Class lists for assigned seats Differentiation: This lesson allows for cooperative learning through class discussion. It also allows students to improve their critical thinking and oral communication skills. However, it can be modified to meet the needs of the class. Discussion dominated by the students is encouraged but if students appear to be struggling with analyzing the speech, the teacher can help guide the discussion through follow-up questions. The questions will be prepared ahead of time and the teacher can decide how many to ask based on the students performance. Furthermore, gifted and talented students could be asked to discuss the speech more in depth. They could also have an additional assignment of writing a letter in the context of the time to friend about their reaction to the speech. Adaptations: This lesson can be adapted for students with exceptional needs. For one, a student with exceptional needs can participate in Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) by reading the speech with a more advanced student. This could help students who are struggling with reading gain a better understanding of the speech as well as confidence to participate in the discussion. The reading selections could also be read aloud to the student to help with understanding and the teacher could allow a few minutes for students to discuss with a partner their thoughts of the speech in order to alleviate any anxiety toward participation. Furthermore, a student with exceptional needs could have assistance on the homework assignment as well as more time to complete it. Finally, review notes and answers to the homework assignment could be provided. Reflection: Overall, I think this lesson will be successful with the students. However, my biggest challenge for this lesson will be the fact that these students have never been

5 exposed to a Socratic Seminar lesson before. Because of this, I have tried to be as explicit as possible in preparing the students for the discussion. This will also hopefully help with classroom management. To avoid struggle, I have the students completing a set of questions at the beginning of the lesson in order to guide them through reading the speech. Furthermore, because I have not witnessed this type of class discussion before in this class, I will have to closely monitor the students progress in order to keep them focused. Because of this, I have prepared a list of questions ahead of time that I can turn to if the students stray from the goal of the seminar. Furthermore, it may be a struggle at first getting the students to participate because they have never been asked to this before. By having the students complete a ticket and basing the opening question on the ticket, the students will feel more comfortable participating. Having a list of follow-up questions will also hopefully engage the students in the lesson. However, I think the format of the lesson is one which students will adapt to easily because it is easy to follow. I also think students will enjoy this lesson because it gives them a hands-on opportunity to learn about a topic as well as explore a primary document in depth. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for students to learn from each other through student-centered discussion. In the end, I hope students will appreciate this type of lesson and take the skills they learned to analyze other primary documents they may encounter in their history classes. Post-Teaching:

6 The Gettysburg Address 1 President Lincoln gave this speech at the dedication of the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg. Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now that we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether than nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here deficated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. -Abraham Lincoln, November 19, Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address. America: History of Our Nation. Boston: Prentice Hall, p. 538.

7 Socratic Seminar Ticket Directions: Please read p. 538 of your textbook and answer the following questions. 1. Is this a primary or secondary document? Why? 2. Who wrote this document? When was it written? 3. Who is the audience? 4. What is the most important idea of the speech? 5. What was the author trying to accomplish with this speech?

8 Socratic Seminar Reflection Directions: Based on our class discussion today, please answer the following questions. 1. What is the main idea of the Gettysburg Address? 2. What was the purpose of the Gettysburg Address?

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