Human nature, leadership, and power

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Socratic Seminar Guidelines for Swift and Machiavelli
For this seminar, you will be focusing on aspects of human nature, leadership, and power based on your reading of Gulliver’s Travels and The Prince. You will create THREE questions to ask during the discussion. One must be a connection question, one must be text based (examples on the back of this page), and the third should ask for an evaluation of some aspect of the authors’ ideas regarding human nature, leadership, or power.

  • Connection Question Types: (MUST HAVE ONE OF THESE)

  • Text-to-Self: makes a connection between the text (see above) and some part of your life

  • Text-to-Text: makes a connection between the text (see above) and another text.

  • Text-to-World: makes a connection between the text (see above) and a world event, history, a country, or anything connected to the “world.”

  • Text-based sample questions: (MUST HAVE ONE OF THESE)

***IMPORTANT: These are very broad. You need to make them specific to the text. If you leave the questions as-is, you will be docked points***

  • Evidence and inference:

  • What uncertainties remain?

  • What additional information is needed to address uncertainties?

  • Themes/central ideas/green words:

  • Which themes/central ideas/green words can you identify in the reading?

  • How does the author develop the themes/central ideas/green words?

  • Which detail, or event, first presented an indication of the theme/central idea/green word?

  • Identify additional details that shaped each theme/central idea/green word.

  • Is one theme/central idea/green word more significant than another? Why?

  • Impact of author’s choices and impact on development: (these are appropriate for questions based on Gulliver’s Travels, not The Prince).

  • How does the author develop the setting, plot, or character?

  • What is the impact of the author’s choices regarding his development of the story elements?

  • Interpretation of words and phrases and effect on the text:

  • What impact does (pick a word or phrase) have on the meaning?

  • What figurative words could be added to change the tone?

  • What impact does ____________have on meaning/tone/mood?

  • Sarcasm, irony, and the difference between what is directly stated and what is meant:

  • Why did the author use sarcasm here?

  • How was satire/irony used to convey the point of view?

  • Which direct statements in the text are meant to convey a different meaning?

  • Evaluation Question type : (MUST HAVE ONE OF THESE)

    • Ask one question that asks your classmates to form a solid, defendable opinion toward Swift or Machiavelli’s ideas toward an aspect of human nature, power, or leadership.

Unacceptable Questions:

  • Level 1: Repeat, Recall, Recite, Define, State, Tell, Identify, Recognize, List, Label, Name, Use, Quote, Match, Who, What, Where, When, Why

Expectations for Discussion:

• Participate but don’t dominate and try not to just repeat ideas

• Use evidence and specific examples from the text.

• Always have your book out during a Socratic Seminar.

• Take notes! These questions may be useful for the final exam.

• Ask Questions! After all that is why we call it a “Socratic” Seminar. Questions often lead us to new and interesting places.

Socratic Seminar – scoring


___/15 three higher level discussion questions

___ connection

___ text-based

___ evaluative

___/50 score from observation form

asking a question ___/ 5

participating in discussion ___/20

directly referencing either Swift or Machiavelli ___/ 10

eye contact/active listening ___/ 5

short responses ___/10


*** NOTE: each of the above point designations indicates the maximum score you can get for each item. Speaking in the discussion does not automatically earn you 20 points, but will be prorated on the preparedness and relevancy of your comments.

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