ALEX Lesson Plan


Socratic Seminar About Non-Conformity

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Michelle Steed
The event this resource created for:CCRS
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33086


Socratic Seminar About Non-Conformity


Students will participate in a Socratic Seminar to discuss the idea of non- conformity as a relative theme in the novel Stargirl. Students will refer to text annotations and class discussions (completed TPFASTT optional) to make contributions to the student-led discussion.  

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
1 ) Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.6.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.1- Answer who, what, where, when, and why questions about stories using textual evidence for support.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
2 ) Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments. [RL.6.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.2- Identify the theme or main idea of a story; provide a simple summary of a story.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
10 ) By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the Grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. [RL.6.10]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
16 ) Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text. [RI.6.6]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.16- Identify the author's purpose in an informational text (i.e., to inform, persuade, entertain).

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
17 ) Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue. [RI.6.7]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.17- Use information presented in different media or formats (e.g., video, print) to demonstrate understanding of a topic or issue.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
31 ) Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. [SL.6.1]

a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion. [SL.6.1a]

b. Follow rules for collegial discussions, set specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed. [SL.6.1b]

c. Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion. [SL.6.1c]

d. Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing. [SL.6.1d]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
34 ) Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. [SL.6.4]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.34- Present a claim, using a beginning, middle, and end and including relevant facts and details.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to lead and participate in a student led formal discussion based on the theme of non-conformity as a culminating activity to the reading of Stargirl. Students will establish group norms to follow during the discussion, and will prepare text related questions, using question stems, to bring to the discussion. Students will cite textual evidence to support contributions to the discussion using the actual text. (TPFASTT is optional).

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Copies of the text Stargirl for each student

Completed TPFASTT graphic organizer (optional)

Question Stems

Rubric for peer evaluation

Technology Resources Needed:

Laptop, Interactive whiteboard


In a Socratic Seminar, the students will facilitate the quality of discussion using teacher-prepared questions to begin the dialogue and then moving to questions students have prepared to deepen the discussion. All students should read the entire novel and have prepared questions to bring to the discussion relative to the central idea of non-conformity; a completed TPFASTT/graphic organizer is a helpful resource for reluctant participants. The classroom should be arranged so that students can look at each other directly, a circle or square works well.  Discussion norms should be discussed by the class and posted. Initial key questions should be posted.


  1. (Day 1) Introduce the seminar and its purpose (to facilitate a deeper understanding of the idea of non-conformity). Explain to the students that the responsibility of the quality of the discussion will be their responsibility and this is not a debate and there are no right answers. They are encouraged to think out loud and to exchange ideas openly using their knowledge of the text and their ideas about non-conformity.
  2. Establish group discussion norms. Ask students what behaviors should be exhibited during the discussion. Record ideas and then identify the set to be used. 

Possible Norms for Socratic Seminar:

·  Don't raise your hand to speak.

·  Listen carefully and respectfully consider other ideas/comments.

·  Don't be afraid to speak up/out; use an inside voice.

·  Stay focused on the topic; refrain from making irrelevant comments.

·   Base opinions on the text using textual evidence to support your ideas.

·   Equal opportunity to join the discussion.

·   Stay seated, make eye contact.

·   Practice self-control and keep negative comments to yourself.

  1. Provide students with question stems to formulate their questions they will bring to the discussion. Stems can be posted in Edmodo for accessibility. Students should also review their completed TPFASTT graphic organizer (if used during the reading) to serve as a reminder about class discussions relating to the text and the idea of non-conformity. (see attached template)

What puzzles me is...

I'd like to talk with people about...

I'm confused about...

Don't you think this is similar to...

I have questions about...

Another point of view is...

Do you think...

What does it mean when the author says...

Do you agree that...

  1. (Day 2) Review established norms with the class. Norms may be posted on interactive whiteboard with initial key questions. 
  2. Pass out to each student the Discussion Partner Evaluation sheet.  Student names should be pre-written on each.
  3. Teacher should be seated at the level of the students and remind the students to address each other not you.
  4. Pose the key question(s). Encourage students to relate their statements to the reading. If students get off track, refocus them on the opening key questions.

Key Questions:

    • Do you, as a reader, like Stargirl? If you were a student at MAHS, would you reach out to her as Dori Dilson does, or reject her as Hillari Kimble does? Do you think the students of Mica High are ultimately too harsh with Stargirl?
    • Popularity, fitting in, and "sameness" are all key themes in Stargirl. Find places in the novel that deal with these themes and discuss. Do you think Stargirl ever wants to be popular? How might she define popularity?
  1. Once the opening key questions have been discussed, encourage students to enter their questions into the discussion. You may use talking chips (each student is allotted a number of chips to use when they make a contribution) to even the participation. Invite reluctant students to join in. Remember to help students converse with each other not the teacher.  All questions and contributions need to be directed to the group not the teacher.
  2. As the session comes to a close, it can be helpful to summarize the main points of the discussion, either at a quiet point or at the end of the determined time allotted.

Close the class by allowing each student to complete the rubric for peer evaluation on the Socratic Seminar discussion. After a few minutes or as they complete the evaluation, each student should receive his or her evaluation to review and reflect on their own participation. Students should be encouraged to give verbal feedback as well. (see attachment)

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Assessment Strategies

Formative assessment of teacher observation while students are engaged in the discussion.

Formative assessment of rubric for peer evaluation - Discussion Partner Evaluation


Students can use the Socratic Seminar to discuss other issues relative to the teen world today.


For students who may need extra support, allow them to use a copy of an annotated text or a completed TPFASTT during the discussion.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.