SI 643 Reflection of Readings: Book Club and Socratic Seminar

19 Feb

This week’s readings are about two different styles of reading groups and discussion: Book Club and Socratic Seminar. First, Hoffert (1996) and Dempsy (2011) explain how book clubs of public library became flourished. They argue that several factors attributed to a success of book clubs activities; widening a scope of books in book clubs (e.g. comics, non-fictions, blog posts, etc.), using videoconferencing technologies, developing activities beyond book reading (e.g. watching Shakespeare’s play after reading his book), and discovering new communities that are willing to discuss a book while they engage in other activities (e.g. Knitting club).

On the other hand, Metzger( 1998) and Tredy (1995) discuss about the principles of Socratic Seminar in classroom and how they help students achieve an in-depth understanding of reading materials. What I find most important in their articles are (1) Socratic Seminar works best with open-ended questions rather than questions which are made by and for teachers to test whether students do their readings (2) feedback based on observation from students in a outer circle to those in an inner circle can help inner-circle students improve their skill of discussion (3) teachers’ less intrusive behavior in the seminar eventually helps students’ critical thinking.

Although these articles deal with different types of reading groups (book club in public library and students in classroom), they all stress that choosing proper reading materials and having ready well-prepared open-ended questions are important for successful discussion. Therefore, while instructors (or librarians) need to be passive observers rather than active participants in Socratic Seminar or book club discussion, it is also important to keep in mind that the careful preparation of class is always essential to successful discussion.


Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “SI 643 Reflection of Readings: Book Club and Socratic Seminar

  1. halleyt

    March 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Widening the scope to include different genres and formats were definitely key to helping book clubs flourish. I have heard that there is a very popular anime/manga club for teens over at Canton Public Library. They discuss manga, but also watch anime at the meetings. Preparing is also really important to the success, too. No one wants to feel like they are wasting their time at a poorly planned event.

    • chris.wolf

      March 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      I think opening up genres and formats also helps because often we are then able to find shorter texts. Personally, I find it hard to get interested in a book club that has an hour to discuss a 400 page book. Even with the traditional book format, breaking it up into chapters or focusing on a particular theme could help make the idea of the book club more approachable and interesting to people.


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