Socratic Seminar

Seventh grade history students learn from each other in “fishbowl” discussion.
What were the causes of the First War of Indian Independence?

In small, student-facilitated discussion groups, students co-constructed understanding around five source texts in their 7th grade history socratic seminar. They learned to respect conversation “air time”—listening more than speaking—and were mindful to use the time to establish common ground rather than assert opinions. Organized as a “fishbowl” activity, students in the outer circle observed and took notes on the inner circle discussion. Beyond the impressive dialogue, it was meaningful to hear the observing students share specific praise for the way their peers engaged and responded to one another.

Students drew each others’ attention to noteworthy selections from the source texts, examining biases and considering the reliability of each text. Students raised specific causes of the rebellion including the disrespect of Hindu and Muslim beliefs by the British and patterns of imperialistic action by the British East India Trading Company.

Seventh grade history teachers Julia Blount, Erika Carlson, and Toussaint Lacoste designed the project based upon activities developed by Stanford History Education Group and Facing History and Ourselves.


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Georgetown Day School is a coed, preK-12, non-sectarian private school in Washington, DC with small class sizes and a diverse school community. Our comprehensive, innovative curriculum includes hands-on learning, honors and AP classes, as well as advanced-level math and STEM courses. An education is not just college prep and SAT scores. GDS teachers focus on providing the best education for each child, from elementary grades through high school. The school performing arts program includes theater, dance, and music. The athletics program offers competitive sports for student athletes, including cross-country, track, soccer, lacrosse, and crew/rowing. With our strong commitment to financial aid, an independent school tuition is affordable.