Classroom community and discourse: How argumentation emerges during a Socratic circle

Alexis Carmela Brown


Literacy and language development is a central aspect of educational theory and practice.  One area of literacy and rowlanguage research that has had a lot of attention is dialogic teaching (Bakhtin, 1984; Freire, 1970; Murphey, Wilkinson, Soter, Hennessey, & Alexander, 2009; Reznitskaya & Gregory, 2013).  However, there is limited research on how high school students use their classroom discourse to construct meaning, especially in argumentation.  The purpose of this data analysis is to investigate the emergence of argumentation literacy in a Socratic circle.  Socratic circles, a literacy practice consisting of two concentric circles of students focused around a piece of text, are used to provide students with the opportunity to co-construct meaning through classroom dialogue (Copeland, 2005).  The emergence and construction of argumentation is analyzed by applying discourse analysis to a video of a high school classroom,.  Findings from this analysis reveal that through the use of exploratory talk, three discourse patterns emerge that are in line with argumentation practices: (1) generalizations, (2) communicative struggles, and (3) co-construction of ideas.  Results of the analysis are discussed to inform theory and instruction on dialogic teaching and the use of Socratic circles to develop argumentation-related forms of literacy.


dialogic teaching; exploratory talk; literacy; adolescents; argumentation; Socratic cirlces

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