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60-Second Strategy: The Hot Seat

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Providing the active listeners in the outer ring of a Socratic circle a way to jump in with their burning questions and comments keeps all students engaged.

In Jennifer Montgomery’s 7th-grade English class in Eminence, Kentucky, there are no students zoning out during class discussions. That’s because she expects the students in the outer circle—the ones who are traditionally supposed to observe and actively listen to the students in the inner circle—to look for opportunities to jump in when they have something to add to the conversation. She reserves a single empty seat in the inner circle for these contributors, labeled “the hot seat,” and it’s made all the difference for bumping up participation in her Socratic seminars.

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