Profile Name: Emily Williams
Year: 2008-2009
District: South Pasadena Unified School District
Grades Taught: 6-8
Subjects Taught: Science
Additional Info: A parent writes: "Each of my three children is very different and Mrs. Williams has been an inspirational and effective teacher for each of them."

Zoo Fieldtrip 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 9:16:00 AM

One of my favorite days of the year is our annual 7th grade field trip to the LA County Zoo. In preparation for our trip I show the students two incredible videos. “Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry” and “A Conversation With Koko”. Both of these videos spark a lot of discussion and reflection. While at the zoo the students have an activity guide that they work on that moves them through observation questions to critical thinking questions. In English class the students write a persuasive essay about whether or not we should have zoos. This year I added a Socratic seminar discussion to the overall experience. I find that this is one of the most memorable and lasting experiences of the year for my 7th graders.

re: Zoo Fieldtrip

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 12:54:22 AM Paul Groves

Thank you for adding those questions.  I love it when I see an example lesson and say to myself, "I could do that!"

re: Zoo Fieldtrip

Monday, March 21, 2011 7:46:49 PM Emily Williams

This was my first socratic seminar and it was AMAZING! The students were totally engaged and were asking how soo we could do it again.

I started off with a set of knowledge questions

  1. What is a Zoo?
  2. What are the different types of zoos?
  3. What kinds of animals are found in zoos?

Then I had a few critical thinking questions:

  1. What benefit do zoos provide for animals?
  2. What benefit do zoos provide for humans?
  3. Which kinds of animals belong in zoos?

and then I asked the oposite questions

  1. What harm do zoos pose to animals?
  2. What harm do zoos pose to humans?
  3. Which kinds of animals do not belong in zoos?

Finally we ended with some analysis questions

  1. Should we have zoos?
  2. Are there other options?

The students were wonderful and really held themselves to the norms I outlined. I am very excited to try this again.

re: Zoo Fieldtrip

Saturday, March 19, 2011 11:22:57 AM Paul Groves

I am impressed (but not surprised) that you hold Socratic Seminars with your 7th grade students.  What question(s) do you use as prompts for the Zoo Fieldtrip?

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