Students sitting on the grass in a circle
3-12, Critical Thinking, Games, Gamification, Teaching Tools

Socratic Smackdown

I originally learned about the “Socratic Smackdown” from the Institute of Play on Richard Byrne’s blog way back in 2014. We did Socratic Dialogue discussions frequently in my gifted classes, and my students enjoyed switching things up every once in awhile with this gamified version. The original source of the “Socratic Smackdown” file seemed to disappear for a few years, so I hesitated to recommend it even though I have the PDF already downloaded. However, I am happy to say that I received an email last week that the Institute of Play has transferred its files over to Connected Learning Alliance. You can find and download the “Socratic Smackdown” by going to this link, and clicking on the “Learning Games” button. Here are the rules:

Rules for “Socratic Smackdown” from Institute of Play

The “Socratic Smackdown” packet provides discussion strategies (my students loved “Devil’s Advocate”), score cards, a rubric, and more. You can, of course, make whatever adaptations you need to account for the number and ability levels of students participating.

We didn’t use “Socratic Smackdown” every time we did a Socratic Dialogue, but it was definitely requested every time. Even when we didn’t use it, I could tell that students were more mindful of the discussion strategies that they used, so their metacognition definitely increased.

“Socratic Smackdown” can be used with any class, not just gifted pull-outs — though it probably is best with 3rd grade and up. In fact, this is actually one activity that benefits from a bit higher numbers in your class because you can have more teams and a more lively discussion.

There are other free resources available for download on this transplanted Institute of Play site, including a “Systems Thinking Design Pack,” so I encourage you to check some of those out as well.

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