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Think Like Socrates

Think Like Socrates
Using Questions to Invite Wonder and Empathy Into the Classroom, Grades 4-12

September 2018 | 304 pages | Corwin

The key to creating wonder and empathy in class? Questions!

 Socrates believed in the power of questions rather than the efficiency of lecturing his students. And yet, if we revere Socrates as one of the greatest teachers in history, how did we get so far away from his method of inquiry? Shanna Peeples, 2015 National Teacher of the Year, is here to flip the script and show you how teachers can create a welcoming and engaging atmosphere that encourages student questions and honors their experiences. This resource provides

  • Practical strategies for creating a classroom that runs on dialogue, curiosity, inquiry, and respect
  • An enhancement to your existing curriculum, regardless of content area or grade level, with examples and advice from award-winning teachers
  • Questions of increasing depth paired with sample texts to increase student engagement with your content
  • Step-by-step lessons for generating and using students’ questions as a way of assessing their thinking, and helping them guide that thinking into new learning aligned to state standards
  • Lesson extensions for English language learners, special education students, and gifted and talented students
  • Writing suggestions, in-class debate questions, and scoring rubrics for each content area
  • Recommended multimedia texts grouped by big questions
  • Detailed protocols for using inquiry with adults as a base for Professional Learning Communities, for guiding staff meetings, and for creating inquiry groups around common areas of practice

Your students’ deepest wonderings can point toward learning experiences that allow them to practice the work of citizenship grounded in empathy. Let the questions begin!

PART I. Building a Questioning Classroom Culture
1. Kids These Days: Creating Deeper Learning Experiences Framed Around Student Questions
2. Designing for Engagement: Strategies for Using Student Questions to Plan Academic Discussions
3. Teaching Like Socrates: Composing a Classroom Climate to Encourage Inquiry
4. Learning to Listen: Processes to Support Better Thinking Through Focused Attention
5. Constructing Trust: Foundational Practices to Build Empathy, Belonging, and a Culture of Thinking
PART II. Curating Questions for Use in the Content Areas
6. Using Questions in Multiple Disciplines and Grade Levels
7. Science
8. Math
9. Social Studies, Government, and Humanities
10. Fine Arts
11. Career and Technical Education
12. Special Populations
PART III. Applying Inquiry to Do Real Work in the Real World
13. Using Student Questions for Project Ideas at All Levels
PART IV. Using Our Own Questions to Transform Our Practice
14. Using Teacher Questions to Guide Staff Meetings and Plan Professional Development

"Shanna Peeples (2015 National Teacher of the Year) speaks a voice that's not heard often enough in the places where critical decisions are made about education—the voice of the experienced, devoted, and passionate teacher. As a nation, we should never make educational policy without asking whether it will support pedagogical practices of the sort this book advocates. If students learned to 'think like Socrates,' it would benefit them, their workplaces and communities, and our democracy in countless ways. May this book find tens of thousands of readers who want to put Shanna's well-tested insights into practice!"

Parker J. Palmer, Author of The Courage to Teach, Let Your Life Speak, and On the Brink of Everything

"Excellent writing and a wealth of inspiring examples from distinguished educators make this possibly the strongest Corwin book I have read in the past 10 years."

Michelle Strom, Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Fort Riley Middle School

"Equal parts affirming and challenging, this book confirms why so much of what feels like good teaching is also messy, emotional, and personal. Peeples is a master teacher and a spectacular writer, and here we have a book that is evidence of both. This is a book that respects the intelligence of teachers. I plan on sharing this book with every teacher I work with."

Tom Rademacher, Language Arts Teacher, 8th Grade
St. Anthony Middle School

"Allowing students to pursue their own questions is upheld as a powerful and driving force in learning. Furthermore, the stories in this book are personal and powerful. They helped get my mind and heart involved and ready to read on. Teachers will be able to recognize their own students in these stories."

Jane Hunn, 6th Grade General Science Teacher
Tippecanoe Valley Middle School

"Peeples’s book is important and relevant. It covers topics that educators are grappling with and provides authentic examples that will connect with them. Both novice and master teachers will be able to put these protocols and lesson plans into practice immediately. This is a resource that both administrators and teachers will revisit over and over again."

LaQuita Outlaw, Principal – Grades 6-8
Bay Shore Middle School

"Great for staff development, new implementation of Socratic seminar, and enhancing the craft of inquiry. This is a must-have for AVID school sites in particular."

Valeria C. Ruff, AVID Coordinator and Elective Teacher
Druid Hills Academy

“If you wish your classroom privileged students’ questions, fostered authentic discussion and relationships that support discourse, then Think Like Socrates is a must read. Shanna Peoples provides simple but powerful structures to get started but also to make such an environment thrive.” 

Kara Vandas, Education Consultant
Co-Author, Partnering With Students

"Shanna Peeples has dedicated this book to her students and described it  as a 'Love Letter'. It is. It is also a superb and powerful resource for educators committed to designing and developing learning cultures of curiosity and meaning-filled inquiry.

Socrates said 'Wisdom begins in wonder'. As human beings , questions are our North Star ; we walk in their direction; so we must ensure they are not too small  for our imagination. By grounding learning and teaching in  student -generated questions, we invite children to develop agency over their own learning and choose the questions  they wish to “walk”throughout their lives.

Adroitly and wisely integrating  current research on  learning and teaching for deep understanding ,with her own personal experiences in fostering Socratic thinking within her students ,her colleagues, and herself, Peeples has generously  gifted us with a new narrative and a new map for inviting curiosity, wonder and empathy into the classroom, by design. This book is a treasure."

Stephanie Pace Marshall , Ph.D, Founding President and President Emerita of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Chancellor , The Lincoln Academy of Illinois
Fellow,The Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce , London

"Teachers and students are parched for authentic and significant conversations in today’s schools. Through insightful innovations on an ancient tradition of posing thoughtful questions, Shanna Peeples offers here a practical guide for building wisdom and meaningful learning in today’s classrooms. This book will be an asset for deep inquiry among pre-service and in-service educators alike."

Randy Bomer, PhD, Dean
Unversity of North Texas College of Education, Denton, TX

"If you are looking for a pathway to a remarkable student-centered classroom, Shanna teaches you how you can use questions to connect with your students, garner deeper engagement, and excavate the deep intellectual thoughts that are within our students, yet seem so difficult to uproot. Think Like Socrates is a practical yet soulful book, one that speaks with honesty and compassion to the power of questions and how they can transform your classroom."

Brian Sztabnik, College Board Advisor for Ap Literature and Composition
Miller Place High School

Sample Materials & Chapters

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Shanna F. Peeples

Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, took the road less travelled on the way to her classroom. She worked as a disc jockey, medical assistant, and journalist before teaching, as she says, chose her. Shanna taught middle and high school English in low-income schools in Amarillo, Texas for 14 years. Because Amarillo is a resettlement area for refugees, students as diverse as the Karen people of Myanmar to the Bantu people of Somalia, make up classes in her former assignment at Palo Duro High School.Currently, Shanna is a doctoral candidate in Education Leadership at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She most recently... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506391649

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