Lesson Plan:


Socratic Seminar and Philosophical Chairs Resources



This lesson plan contains three readings from the AVID Archives and corresponding question sets that can be used with in Socratic Seminar and Philosophical Chairs exercises.

Grade Levels:

High School and Middle Level


"Stereotype Threat: An Interview with Joshua Aronson" ACCESS, Volume 11, Number 2, Pages 2-3.

Joshua Aronson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University's Steinhardt School of Education. In this interview, Aronson explains his research on the "stereotype threat," that fear that one might do something to reinforce a bad stereotype about one's group. This can be self-fulfilling fear and impair performance. Aronson views the sources of stereotype threat as being both internal and external, and that "soft bigotry" of lower expectations is a two-way street. He suggests to AVID teachers that they confront the stereotype with their students, thus releasing them from their vulnerability. Students are asked to discuss their personal experiences with stereotype threats and how they can be mitigated.

"Don't Dummy Down High School Rigor" by AVID founder Mary Catherine Swanson, printed in the Opinion section of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Friday, October 6, 2000 and ACCESS Volume 7, Number 1, Page 7

In this editorial, Mary Catherine Swanson responds to the University of California's proposal to admit students from community colleges to the university if they have a 2.4 grade point average or a "C" average. She argues that the policy would make it difficult for high school teachers to insist on academic rigor, especially Advanced Placement courses. She says that since the university is not increasing the number of student spaces, fully qualified freshmen with much higher grade point averages will be denied admission. She points out that research shows that rigorous course work for high school students is the best predictor of college success. Students are asked to discuss the proposed policy and offer their ideas for increasing diversity on college campuses.

"Test Mandate May End for AP Grades" by by Maureen Magee, San Diego Union-Tribune, April 27, 2010.

This article reports on the proposal that students not be required to take the AP test in order to receive weighted grades, rather they would receive weighted grades just for taking an AP class. Students are asked to discuss the fairness of AP testing and weighted grades.