One of my goals this year is to have my students use Socratic to answer questions that other students have asked. My goal is two-fold: 1. to get students to practice verbalizing their thought process; and 2. for students to have a chance to help others beyond our school community. One of the most rewarding parts of flipping my class has been the reach of my voice and lessons; being able to teach students around the world, who find and use my videos for free has been amazing. I want to share this experience with students.
So in my syllabus this year, I included the following:
Beyond contributing to class discussion and staying on task, a major part of class is helping others work through challenges. Since you will be doing most problem solving in class, your participation grade will reflect your willingness to break down difficult concepts to your classmates. Don’t forget that this activity will be a major benefit to you since teaching others reinforces your learning. You will also be asked to post several math solutions to Socratic.org throughout the year. This is a forum where you can go to ask or answer Calculus questions (as well as other subjects). Each trimester, you will be expected to post 2 answers. Additional response posts will show an individual interest beyond class requirements and reflect an effort to go above and beyond. You will be expected to email me the link to your posts on Socratic so that I can admire your great work! Answers do not have to be perfect, somebody else from class or the Socratic community will be able to catch any errors and you will be learning in that process also. You are welcome to discuss any solutions with me before posting, but this is not necessary.
We have just done our first round of postings, so I wanted to share what the experience of posting has been like. When students sign in, they can navigate to a topics list by course to find a question to respond to. This list seems to be evolving and growing still. Once they navigate to the main page for that topic, the layout is: overview (many of these are yet to be written), video tutorials (you can add your own or find relevant ones from youtube), questions, and related lessons. Right now, my goals is for my students to leave responses to some of the questions that have already been asked. The next step will be to have them begin creating some quick video tutorials to post.
Typing a response to a question is very user friendly. Students can easily add math symbols without needing to know LaTeX, and there is a friendly guide to walk them through directions with examples. Students can also add an image (from computer or web) or add a link. Another super nice touch is that right beside the response you are typing is a preview screen of how what you are typing will look when posted. This is very useful when typing equations! On most editors, you have to press a separate button to view a preview, so this side-by-side snapshot is super.
Additionally, this side-by-side view is used for any edits that have been made to a post. Below is an example of a post that one of my students made, and then went back and edited to fix a mistake. I can easily go back in and see exactly what edits have been made, which is great for grading purposes. This revision history is also perfect for students to go in and see if somebody has made a correction or revision to their post.
At this point, the answer posts seem to be well moderated by the Socratic team and other contributors. As more responses come in, I hope that this moderation continues and the information stays accurate. At the same time, there will be mistakes at times in responses, so students have to understand this when looking up answers. For example, when my students are posting, they have made mistakes in their responses. This is natural; they are learning! So right now, I am having students post, then I have a conversation with them, and ask them to go back and revise. This process can take a day or two. Sometimes, another contributor or the Socratic team might get to an error and have it fixed before my student is able to revise him/herself, but sometimes it will just take a moment. So I wonder, as the site gets more utilized and traffic gets heavier, what this revision process will look like. I really like the idea of teachers using Socratic in the classroom with their students – this ensures that teachers are checking for subject-specific accuracy kind of like what I am doing with my students right now. It initiates a wonderful conversation between student and teacher and also provides students the opportunity to really give back and help others. I’m excited to continue to use Socratic in the classroom and see how our process evolves!