IDEA Public Charter School

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1027 45th St. NE, Washington, DC 20019 Phone: (202) 399-4750
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Spotlight on IDEA’s English Classes

The ninth-grade English classes, taught by Naomi Wanzer, are engaging in collegiate-style Socratic seminars about Romeo and Juliet, one of William Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies, in honor of April being Shakespeare month. In a Socratic seminar, the leader asks open-ended questions to encourage thoughtful discussion which, in this case, is about the themes and messages in the play. 
This format engages scholars in active listening, critical thinking, and learning to articulate their thoughts and responses to others. As they do, they also learn how to take part in a civil, thoughtful discussion and work cooperatively. The discussions give scholars an opportunity to connect what happens in Romeo and Juliet, written in the 1500s, with current society and their own lives. 
In a creative twist, Mrs. Wanzer is giving scholars an assignment to create alternative endings or spinoffs to the play. Mr. Shakespeare would be proud!
The 10th grade English classes are preparing persuasive speeches about a current event. Many have selected topics related to the war in Ukraine while others are working on speeches about topics closer to home, such as teen shootings and the importance of Black Lives Matter, Mrs. Wanzer reports. Once their speeches are prepared, each class will make a compilation of Ted Talks.

Top two: Scholars question their classmate as part of a Socratic seminar.
Bottom two: 10th graders pair off to evaluate each other's research topics to ensure  timeliness and relevancy.
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