Tag Archives: Discussion

Highlighting Supplements: Pop Quiz

Pop quiz is a wonderful set of Cd’s that gives an overview of history being learned each week with Tapestry of Grace.

Pop quiz is a wonderful audio overview of the history we study using Tapestry of Grace

These Cd’s are designed for Dads (or whichever parent is not homeschooling) to be able to listen to them in the car on their way to work so that they can take part of history discussions around the dinner table.

Along with the Cd’s comes a set of cards with questions for each learning level. These questions allow Dad to ask questions of all the students  and engage with them at their level. It also allows him to dig deeper into discussion with his older students.Pop quiz is a wonderful Cd that enables Dad to listen along to the history the rest of the family is learning.

Another thing we have learned from our families is that many moms are also using Pop Quiz. For some, it is just easier to listen to the Cd in preparation for the week, rather than reading the Teacher’s Notes. For others, they enjoy listening to it in the car when they are driving the kids around to different activities. Pop Quiz is an easy way to get an overview of the history the family is learning that week! Pop quiz is a wonderful Cd that enables Dad to listen along to the history the rest of the family is learning.

We love that homeschooling can be a whole family experience! We know that Dad wants to be able to be in on the fun of family discussion time. This tool enables him to enjoy how much his children are learning from being at home. It is also a benefit to moms who want to be able to listen to the weekly overview rather than read the material.

If you want to hear a few weeks of Pop Quiz, go to the week samples and pick a sample week. Here I chose week 1 for you. On the right hand sidebar you can pick a sample to listen to!


Transitioning to Dialectic Studies

There is a definite step up from the Upper Grammar to the Dialectic learning level, as kids approach and then pass through puberty. I discuss in detail the stages of learning and ways to approach the Dialectic stage of learning in my Tapestry Teacher’s Training Session #4: “Teaching Grammar and Dialectic Students.” One of the biggest Tapestry-related hurtles that moms and kids face is the appearance of the Accountability Questions (AQ) and Thinking Questions (TQ) in Dialectic Student Activity Page assignments. These aren’t given for Grammar students, so when kids step up a level, they’ve got a new discipline to master.  If we as teaching moms aren’t keyed into the skills that a student needs in order to answer these questions, frustrations can arise on all sides!

Accountability and Thinking Questions are designed for different purposes! Many new moms don’t realize this. In my latest webinar, Session #8 of the Tapestry Teacher Training series entitled “Developing Learning Skills,” I discuss at length what the two kinds of questions are designed to ask for and produce in students. I also go over the fact that these transitioning students must use summary skills and reading for the main idea in order to find answers to these questions. Unlike text book approaches, AQ and TQ require students to extrapolate factual answers from their texts (AQ) and to associated ideas in the readings with ideas they may have learned about previously (TQ). All this takes practice, so if your student is new to either Tapestry studies or the Dialectic learning level this fall, you might want to give a listen to Session 8!

Here’s a post on one of our yahoogroups from a mom who had an excellent approach to stepping her daughter up from the Grammar to Dialectic level:

What I did was to sit with her and read together the history core book. First we read through the AQ’s and TQ’s so we knew what answers we were reading for. Then we read the book, switching off paragraphs. We discussed as we read. I pointed out when we came to an “answer” and we would mark it with one of those small post it note sticky tabs. My dd even started writing on the tab “AQ #3” or whatever. When we were finished with each day’s reading, we would go through all the places we had marked and write out the answers to those questions on notebook paper (I am not like some of the awesome moms here who make up notebooks ahead of time! We just write our answers on regular notebook paper), again discussing as we went if necessary. It was important to me that I modeled for her how to do this EVERY DAY and not wait until the end of the week to answer all her questions.

My dd would then do the same with her in depth books, if there were any assigned that week. Sometimes I helped her with the in depth book, but usually it was history core. After about a month of doing it together this way, she was able to fly on her own pretty well. She still needs help with some questions after 2 years at this level, but has her D routine down pretty well. The effort you put in up front pays big dividends down the road!Our next child will be transitioning to D this fall, so I am gearing up to do the same thing with him. When I pray for him/us, I will pray for you!


Pam in SE MI

http://journeyingwithjoy.blogspot.com/Preparing for Year 1 with 5 children, ages 13, 11, 10, 8, and 5


Socratic Discussions

Last week, we put up Session 7 of our summer-long Tapestry Teacher Training (TTT) webinar series, entitled “Holding Socratic Discussions.” This was a particularly fun webinar to produce, because I partnered up with some good friends here in Frederick and we did some videotaping of mock demonstrations using kids in our local co-op. While the Internet-delivered version of this website is a little grainy (’cause we couldn’t use the hi-res versions of the videotape and not crash the system), the DVD version is crisp and beautiful! I’m excited about this series, called “The Foundational Series” because the feedback that we’ve been getting lets me know that they are truly helping moms be better homeschoolers, and that was (and always is) our goal!Below is an excerpt from the opening of Session 7, just to whet your interest! In 2011, during the conference season, you can get the Foundation Series FREE with the purchase of a year-plan as our Conference Special!

What IS Socratic discussion?

Most simply put Socratic discussion is teaching others by asking leading questions that are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand.This form of discussion is named for the Greek philosopher, Socrates. Socrates lived and taught in Athens, Greece during its golden age, in the late fifth century before Christ. He was actually one of the founders of Western philosophy. Socrates went around Athens during his life and asked questions of others. When they answered, he asked another question. When they answered that, he followed up with yet another question. In each interchange, the one being questioned had to reconsider his last point in light of a new vantage that the next question gave him. As I said in my definition, the purpose of Socrates’ questions was not only to draw out individual answers, but to encourage fundamental insights into issues under discussion. This is the essence of Socratic discussion when properly done.

What Socratic Discussion is Not

Let me further define for you what Socratic discussion is by contrasting it with other forms of discussion.

  • Socratic discussion is NOT lecturing. In a lecture, the expert speaks for long periods of time, and the student listens. The lecturer may use slides, a white board, or other aids, but his basic mode is to teach by means of presenting, and there is typically no active part for the student to play.
  • Socratic discussion is also not simply a conversation among peers. It’s not a wandering talk with no predetermined sense of direction. It’s not an “open forum” where equals all throw into the ring what they think on an issue.
  • Socratic discussion is not a panel discussion, where three to five experts give their opinions on an issue, and children watch.
  • It’s not a debate, where two teams argue a series of points, and a judge (as well as the audience) decide the outcome of the encounter.
  • Finally, it’s not “educational ping-pong.” By this I mean the kind of “discussion” – though this is hardly a worthy name for what I’m describing—wherein the teacher has an answer book and the student has a series of questions to answer at the end of the text book and now the teacher and student have a session wherein they go over this material.

Socratic discussion is none of the above: rather, it’s the intentional questioning of a teacher (you) that leads the student through an ordered series of thoughts and ideas. The point of the exercise is to cause him to think about his opinions and ideas more deeply and to give reasons for them. By adopting the Socratic approach, we arm ourselves with a powerful tool for equipping our students to explain to a dying world the hope to which they have been called.

Socratic Discussions within Tapestry

Socratic discussions form the centerpiece of our “READ—THINK—WRITE” approach when teaching older students with Tapestry of Grace. What we encourage is that your dialectic and rhetoric students read independently for information first. Then, they think about what they have read by having you lead them through a Socratic discussion. For dialectics, your goal is to help them see and form new connections. For rhetorics, your goal is to help them analyze the issue at hand and then synthesize their own views on the issue and, ultimately, to form biblically informed opinions and worldviews from these discussions. They then write about what they’ve read and thought about, so that they interact again with the material, and crystallize their own opinions about matters they’ve studied.

Why do we make such a point of helping you to become a Socratic discussion leader?

Well, first, it’s just straight up good teaching. It is effective because questioning retains focus of student. Unlike such methods as lecturing, there is no ohming out while a teacher drones on. Think of yourself during Sunday sermons: unless the preacher’s subject or delivery are of immense interest to you, chances are that during his 45 minute presentation, your mind will wander.  And, even if it doesn’t, how much did you retain from the sermon you heard two weeks ago? While I’m not knocking sermons in any way, most lecturing is not a highly effective method  for teaching content that you wish the students to retain for long periods of time.

Socratic discussion, by contrast, engages the students constantly. Think of your last conversation: you probably remained far more engaged in it (unless you were multitasking) than you did in the sermon two weeks ago, and I’ll take a guess that you retained more of the content, too.Beyond simply paying attention, people remember conclusions they draw for themselves.  For this, I’ll offer the analogy of four women going together to a location that’s new to them all: say, to a bridal shower. Let us say that the subsequent rehearsal dinner is in the same location. The woman who drove the four ladies to the shower will remember how to get there far more readily than the other three. Why? She was paying attention, remembering the turns and landmarks, while the other three were enjoying uninterrupted conversation. Similarly, the student who is skillfully led through a series of questions that cause him to think about the issue at hand and about his opinions of that issue will remember the insights and conclusions that he draws far more readily than a student who has sat in a lecture and heard the professor’s brilliant insights and conclusions. It’s just how we work: we remember how we got there if we participate actively in finding the way.

Finally, and especially with youths, the Bible tells us that fools delight in airing their own opinions. Well, I’m not calling your student a fool, but young people seem to delight more in airing their own opinions than in getting wisdom from their elders. This being true, Socratic discussion is tailor-made to harness this tendency. Socratic questioning encourages your youth to express his opinions, and then questions those opinions so that he can examine and modify them to more biblical ones—and then remember and own them once the process is done!

Now, in Tapestry, we use Socratic questioning in different ways depending on the learning level, and maturity of the student.


Here, I begin to go into detail. Want to learn more? Go and watch the webinar!