Socratic Philosophy for Kids

Author: Krystle Birdsall

School/Organization:

Thomas Holme Elementary School

Year: 2018

Seminar: Philosophy, Science & Society

Grade Level: 2-6

Keywords: Analyzing arguments, Critical thinking, ELA activity, ethics, Making connections, Morality, Personal Identity, Philoslphy of science, philosophy, Questioning, social studies

School Subject(s): English, Literature, Social Studies

This curricular unit is a stand-alone series of lessons that have students engage in philosophical thinking. This particular unit was created for second grade students but can be easily adapted for students of all ages. In order to complete this unit, teachers will need access to an internet connected device, as well as a way to project the videos described. This unit should take about 10 days, an hour a day, to complete. The first 5 days gets students thinking and practicing discussion techniques with their classmates. Day 6 allows students to engage in a Socratic Seminar where they discuss open-ended questions that encourage deep thought and higher-order thinking. The last 4 days are for writing an opinion paragraph to answer one of the philosophical questions asked previously.

Download Unit: 18.04.02.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Rationale

As the Lead Literacy Teacher and Coach for our school this year, I have had the opportunity to work with about 300 students and 13 teachers in grades Kindergarten through third. Through my time working with these classes, as well as my previous experience as a 4th grade teacher, I have come to realize how truly insightful and inquisitive young children naturally are.

Although children are more than capable of philosophical thinking from a young age, many school districts, including the School District of Philadelphia, do not include this practice in any of the required standards for academic success. And while many students think of issues in black and white, right and wrong, because it is easier to understand in that way, human experience is never that easy. It is for these reasons that I am writing this curricular unit.

Philosophy, or the study of knowledge, is concerned with investigating the reasons for what happens in the world around us, including the reasons behind the way humans live their lives in the manner of which they do. Essentially, philosophy is a method of thinking about thinking, a very abstract branch of science that seems to be geared more toward pondering life’s big mysteries like the true meaning of life. According to Matei (2013), when children practice philosophical thinking, they “…develop the logical thinking, the interrogative thinking, the argumentative thinking, [and] the critical thinking” (p. 27). These types of thinking are critical for success both in and out of school settings, for children and adults. Logical thinking helps students learn self-regulation of both behavior and emotions, while interrogative thinking enables students to ask relevant questions that will help them analyze the world around them. Argumentative thinking allows students to reason both inductively and deductively to form personal opinions and make important decisions when necessary. Lastly, critical thinking skills are important for building a mind that can think clearly, objectively, and rationally even in times of increased stress. Philosophical thinking encourages more frequent mental stimulation, thereby increasing the mental capacity of the mind.

To demonstrate academic success, according to the Common Core State Standards for comprehension and collaboration while speaking and listening in second grade, students are asked to “participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups, including following agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listen to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion),” (SL.2.1.a), “build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others” (SL.2.1.b), and “ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion,” (SL.2.1.c). Students are also required to “ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue,” (SL.2.3). When presenting knowledge and ideas, students must “tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences,” (SL.2.4), “create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings,” (S.L.2.5), and “produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification,” (SL.2.6) including the “use [of] words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe” (L.2.6). For opinion writing success, students “write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section” (W.2.1) and “focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing,” with guidance and support from adults and peers (W.2.5). This curricular unit, which includes frequent discussion and debate, will help students achieve academic success with these Common Core standards for Speaking and Listening, Language, and Writing.

Overall, this unit has been designed to allow students to connect their own opinions and knowledge, of who they are and the world around them, to engage in philosophical thought and questioning. Students will be asked to reflect on who they are as individuals, what makes them who they are, and if they can change but still be themselves. Next, students will challenge what they know to investigate who determines ownership of natural resources and what happens to others as a result of that ownership. Following, students will think about what it means to be right or wrong and have the opportunity to dispute those preconceived notions, as well as what is considered fair and who determines fairness. Here, students will be introduced to the idea of equity versus equality, leading to the final exploration of our own personal responsibility, which connects back to the first topics of what makes a person who they are and if people can really change who they are while still remaining true to themselves. This unit is designed to serve as an end-of-year project based learning unit, but it could also serve as a supplementary component to any Social Studies or English Language Arts curriculum throughout the school year. The exploration of these philosophical concepts could aid in the promotion of student engagement, deeper thought, and higher-order thinking that connects to any complex topics, including those like Civil Rights or the motivation for war. It is my hope that this curricular unit will also influence students to make more informed and positive choices when interacting with others in the future, outside of the school setting.

Background

From its Greek origins, the word “philosophy” means love of wisdom. In a sense, those who study philosophy are seeking answers to some of the most basic, yet tough to answer, questions about “the world, ourselves, our experiences, and other people… to improve the
quality of all our lives,” (The Philosophy Foundation, 2018). More than just arguing for the sake of answering these questions, philosophy manifests itself as an infinite pursuit for the ultimate truth about the world around us that asks participants to think critically about the beliefs one holds and how to act upon those beliefs. The concern for increased problem solving skills amongst students, as well as a desire to increase student interest in their own personal educational experiences has lead philosopher and educator, Matthew Lipman, to the creation the of Philosophy for Children (PFC) in the 1970s. According to Kohan (as cited in Välitalo, Juuso, & Sutinen, 2015):

For Lipman, the purpose of PFC as an educational program was to enhance democracy, which was possible through PFC by (1) offering rich and varied treatment of universal and controversial concepts, such as truth, justice and freedom; (2) provision of an education in thinking that leads children to be higher-order thinkers (which includes critical, creative and caring thinking); and (3) offering an opportunity for significant dialogue that fosters better judgment. (p. 82)

In short, Lipman realized that having students practice critical thinking around worldly issues, while also collaborating with others, practicing active listening, and engaging in frequent reflective practices, to construct their own knowledge, would provide students with a more authentic learning experience that would prepare them to be productive citizens in society; engaging in philosophical thinking encourages that. As Westheimer states (2015), “Schools in democratic societies must teach students how to ask challenging questions – the kinds of questions that are, at times, uncomfortable, the kinds that question tradition… without any questioning, there would be no progress,” (p.12). Children need to practice questioning, discussing, listening, and collaborating in order to be successful in, and out, of school. If we truly want them to be problem-solvers, we need to allow them the opportunity to engage in authentic problem-solving exercises.

Although traditional modes of thought dictated that the teacher is the holder of all knowledge to be instilled into the minds of students, the practice of philosophy in the classroom not only places children at the focus of the teaching and learning process, but it also encourages a shift “from learning facts and fixed knowledge to asking questions, exploring ideas and collaborating to create new meanings or understandings…” (Brownlee, et al., 2014). In this sense, student-teacher interactions are more balanced as the teacher takes on a more facilitative role while students act as the educators and holders of knowledge.

In Philosophy for Children, students naturally gravitate to engaging with one another, as well as learning to cooperate and respect one another, as the teacher takes a back seat. Through a balance of investigating individual and social values, students work together to explore problems and ideas together. This practice of collaboration will encourage students to keep an open mind and consider the point of view of others, while exposing them to a variety of issues and viewpoints about the events happening in the world around them. Subjecting students to issues of life and how the world around us work, as opposed to sheltering them from it, will better prepare them to tackle issues head on as they go out into the world. Through philosophical inquiry in the classroom, students improve their judgment, build social intelligence, improve communication skills, and learn to appreciate others (Cam, 2014).
The resources chosen for this curricular unit, especially the short videos from the “What Makes Me Me?” series, were chosen in part because they are short and visually appealing. Additionally, this series was designed for children to help them engage in true philosophical thinking by diving into issues such as personal identity, moral character, responsibility, egalitarianism, property, and matters of applied ethics like distributive justice and environmental ethics. These topics allow for deeper, higher-order thinking and questioning while also allowing students to bring their authentic identities and experiences into the conversation.

As described by Olson (2017), “Personal identity deals with philosophical questions that arise about ourselves by virtue of our being people… this contrasts with question about ourselves that arise by virtue of our being living things, conscious beings, material objects, or the like.” The first video bearing the same name as the series title, “What Makes Me Me?” allows students to consider who they really are and what made them that way. In this sense, “…personal identity tends to relate to qualities that give individual persons a “sense of attachment or ownership,” (Olson 2017), which have a tendency to differ between the experiences of individuals. These differing experiences bring depth to the conversations students will engage in with their classmates as each child has a unique set of understandings to share.

“The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior,” (Fieser, n.d.). Normative ethics is the most practical of the three main theories (including metaethics and applied ethics) of moral philosophy. The job of normative ethics is to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior, or in other words, which actions are the standard for “good” behavior, and which are deemed wrong. These standards can be established using a consequentialism (cost-benefit) approach, deontology (duty), or virtue ethics. Consequentialism just means that an action is considered moral if the positive consequences of the action outweigh the negative consequences. Duty theories maintain that the consequences don’t matter because people are supposed to do moral things; as God has mandated. Virtue ethics does not place as much importance on the actual rules in the way that consequentialism and deontology do.

Philosophers who follow a virtue theory of ethics instead stress “the importance of developing good habits of character,” while avoiding bad habits, “or vices,” (Fieser, n.d.). As parents and educators, we strive to help our children develop into morally virtuous individuals, who embody attributes such as empathy, integrity, courage, honesty, loyalty, and fortitude, but also “…deserving of the reactive attitudes,” (Timpe, n.d.) which can be either positive or negative. For this unit, there are three short videos involving the principles of moral philosophy: “Why Should I Be Good,” “Am I Responsible for My Actions,” and “What Makes Me Me,” which also focused on identity principles.

The short video, “Am I Responsible for My Actions,” while dealing with moral character and moral standing, is also heavily focused on responsibility (as its name suggests). “Responsibility,” a relatively new word, means duty or obligation. In other words, “when we ask about a person’s responsibilities, we are concerned with that she ought to be doing or attending to,” (Williams, n.d.). While watching this video, students will more than likely, yet unknowingly, assign each character a duty and hold them all accountable for their actions. This is called prospective responsibility. For the discussion, students are being asked to answer questions related to retrospective responsibility, meaning that they will be making, as Williams describes, “a moral… judgment of the [people] responsible,” (n.d).

Two videos, “Who Owns the Sky?” and “What’s Fair?” both tackle issues in applied ethics. “Applied ethics involves examining specific controversial issues, such as abortion, infanticide, animal rights, environmental concerns, homosexuality, capital punishment, or nuclear war,” while attempting to resolve these contentious issues. Although neither of these videos focus on such extreme controversies as abortion or capital punishment, ethical issues related to communal resources, distributive justice, and environmental concerns are presented, and are both very arguable, and moral, topics. According to Dittmer (n.d.) when explaining the meaning of distributive justice:

Take a society, or group of societies, and consider a limited number of resources, goods, and services. The question arises about how those resources, goods, and services should be distributed across individuals of such societies. Furthermore, there is the question about what kind of organization, or centralizing power, should be set up to deal with distribution of such goods (short for goods, resources, and services)… In “What’s Fair?” the distributive justice relates more closely to how work, or service, will be distributed amongst a group of friends with different ideas of how much they should do considering their conditions. “Who Owns the Sky?” stays true to Dittmer’s (n.d.) description of distributive justice, and adds elements of environmental ethics that deals with, “…management of environmental resources… and our obligation to future generations,” (Fieser, n.d.). In this way, “Who Owns the Sky?” asks students to consider how natural resources can be shared and/or taken or owned. We can also view both “What’s Fair?” and “Who Owns the Sky?” from an egalitarian perspective that assumes all people are equal in some way, and maintains that all human beings deserve equal rights and opportunities because they themselves are, in fact, equal. This viewpoint relates directly to the controversial nature of applied ethics because equality may be favored or opposed depending on the context and perspective. Ameson thinks that, “a better approach is to look at distributive justice issues by asking what social and distributive arrangements are needed to establish and sustain a society of free, equal people, a society in which individuals all relate as equals,” (2013).

“Who Owns the Sky?” deals with more ethical issues than distributive justice, environmental ethics, and egalitarianism. Of course, issues of property are also present. In this video, there is a disagreement between communities of people over the use of natural resources. It may be difficult to think of natural resources as “property” because many would think that everyone should have equal access to them, but disagreements about the use and ownership of property tend to be serious when “the objects in question are both scarce and necessary,” (Waldron, 2016). After viewing, there may be confusion of whether if this is an issue of common property versus collective property. In common property, rules are established to make property accessible for everyone to ensure equitable access for all, whereas collective property is established when a community decides how essential resources can be used. As stated by Waldron (2016), “Plato (Republic, 462b-c) argued that collective ownership was necessary to promote common pursuit of the common interest, and to avoid the social divisiveness that would occur ‘when some grieve exceedingly and others rejoice at the same happenings,’” but some may disagree. A third type of property arrangement, called private property, poses a moral problem according to philosophers, John Locke and David Hume. Waldron (2016) says that Locke believes, “God gave the world to men in common… resulting in what we now see as a ‘disproportionate and unequal possession of the Earth,’” while David Hume concludes that, “there is nothing natural about private property.” How is it possible to turn something that belongs to all people into something privately owned by individuals? This is another question your students may have.

Objectives & Strategies

  • 2.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
    • 2.1.A: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful way, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
    • 2.1.B: Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.
    • 2.1.C: Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.
  • 2.3: Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

 

Speaking and listening standards for English Language Arts were chosen as an important part of this unit.  Standards SL.2.1, its supporting standards, and SL.2.3 are especially significant to the lessons in this curriculum unit because they require students to demonstrate their comprehension and collaboration skills during class discussions.  The majority of lessons in this unit will involve whole-class Socratic Seminar style discussions, along with some partner and small-group discussions.  In order for these discussions to go smoothly, it is imperative that students begin by learning the appropriate methods of discussing with their classmates in a productive and meaningful way.

 

  • 2.4: Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
  • 2.5: Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • 2.6: Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

 

To present knowledge and ideas, Common Core State Standards SL.2.4 through SL.2.6 say that students will need share their understanding of the content through audible, verbal, recounts of facts that are presented in complete, comprehensible, sentences.  While students will not be asked to create audio recordings in this series of lessons, SL.2.5 does suggest the presentation of thoughts, ideas, and feelings through visual displays; students will be asked to complete graphic organizers and anticipation guides to fulfill this requirement.

 

  • 2.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

 

Vocabulary is an important part of this unit. Not only will students be acquiring new vocabulary through lessons and discussions, but they will also be asked to use new vocabulary in an appropriate manner during discussions and presentations.  Students will have multiple opportunities to use vocabulary to describe their opinions and demonstrate their understanding of the content.  Not all of the vocabulary will be content related though, as students will also need to utilize the appropriate vocabulary to effectively participate in collaborative conversations, as previously mentioned in SL.2.1.

  • 2.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.
  • 2.5: With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

 

In order to assess student achievement for this unit, students will be asked to write an opinion piece answering one of the philosophical questions that were tackled the previous week.  Socratic Seminars are not just discussions based on personal experiences. Rather, collaborative discussions such as the one to take place in this unit require students to analyze and evaluate the information learned, while also critiquing the information presented by other students to build a better argument that supports their thinking.  Students will need to consider information from lessons, their own opinions built upon that information, and the opinions of other students to compose a final opinion-writing piece.

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1: “What Makes Me Me?”

  • Materials Needed:
    • Computer
    • Projector or Smart board
    • Internet access
    • Video: “What Makes Me Me?”
    • Anticipation guide
    • Discussion prompts
    • Student journals
    • Equity sticks (optional)
  • Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Objective: Students will be able to analyze information presented in order to critique the opinions of others.
  • Standards: 2.1; SL.2.1.A; SL.2.1.B; SL.2.1.C; SL.2.3; SL.2.4; SL.2.5; L.2.6
  • Evaluation Tool: Journal Scoring Rubric
  • Steps:

 

Explicit Instruction (I do):

  1. Teacher will begin lesson by reading the lesson objective and explaining to students that these skills are important because analyzing and critiquing information helps students better understand what they are learning while teaching others as well.
  2. “These next five days we will be engaging in philosophical thought, answering tough questions and sharing our opinions in order to build our own knowledge. We will do this by first watching a series of videos, one each day, and ending the first 5 days with a Socratic Seminar where we will use what we learned from the videos and class discussions to debate open-ended questions with no one right answer. After that, we will take everything we learned and write a final opinion paragraph to share your thoughts. This unit will take about 10 days.”
  3. Teacher will ask students if they have any questions about the unit and answer as needed.
  4. Before beginning video, teacher will pass out “What Makes Me Me?” anticipation guide and read the directions aloud.
  5. Students will be asked to complete the first column (teacher may read each statement for struggling students and clarify statements as needed).
  6. Teacher will ask students to think about each statement as they watch the video clip so that they can explain of their initial opinion has changed, as well as why or why not.
  7. Using an internet connected device and a method of projection, teacher will pull up first video, “What Makes Me Me?” (that stops at 4:21). Video will play and teacher will pause video at each question that pops up on the screen.
  8. When video is paused, students will use their notebooks to write their responses in complete sentences to be shared at the end of the video and used to elaborate on their opinions in their writing project..

 

Guided Practice (We do):

  1. Once video ends, students will engage in Think-Pair-Share after teacher reads the first question from the video (Students will first be given about 30 seconds to think about their answer to the question, then they will work with a partner taking turns to answer the question, giving each partner a chance. Last, teacher will ask students to raise their hands to share what they, or their partner, discussed).
  2. Think-Pair-Share will continue until all video questions are answered.

 

Independent Practice (You do):

  1. Students will have 5 minutes to complete the right column of their anticipation guides (“After discussion”).
  2. Exit Ticket: Students will independently answer 2 journal reflection questions and save them as notes for their opinion paragraph in the coming days.

 

Lesson 2: “Who Owns the Sky?”

  • Materials Needed:
    • Computer
    • Projector or Smart board
    • Internet access
    • Video: “Who Owns the Sky?” (starts @ 4:22)
    • Anticipation guide
    • Discussion prompts
    • Student journals
    • Equity sticks (optional)
  • Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Objective: Students will be able to analyze information presented in order to critique the opinions of others.
  • Standards: 2.1; SL.2.1.A; SL.2.1.B; SL.2.1.C; SL.2.3; SL.2.4; SL.2.5; L.2.6
  • Evaluation Tool: Journal Scoring Rubric
  • Steps:

 

Explicit Instruction (I do):

  1. Teacher will begin lesson by reading the lesson objective and reminding students that this was the same objective as the previous day and will continue through the next few days. Teacher may also ask student volunteers to explain importance of objective in their own words, and how they practiced this skill the previous day.
  2. “Today, we will be watching another short video. This one is called, “Who Owns the Sky?” and follows the story of two neighboring communities that both rely on the same resources. While you are watching be sure to take notes to help write our final opinion paragraphs.”
  3. Before beginning video, teacher will pass out “Who Owns the Sky?” anticipation guide and read the directions aloud.
  4. Students will be asked to complete the first column (teacher may read each statement for struggling students and clarify statements as needed).
  5. Teacher will ask students to think about each statement as they watch the video clip so that they can explain of their initial opinion has changed, as well as why or why not.
  6. Using an internet connected device and a method of projection, teacher will pull up the video, “Who Owns the Sky?” that starts at 4:22). Video will play and teacher will pause video at each question that pops up on the screen.
  7. When video is paused, students will use their notebooks to write their responses in complete sentences to be shared at the end of the video and used to elaborate on their opinions in their writing project.

 

Guided Practice (We do):

  1. Once video ends, students will engage in Think-Pair-Share after teacher reads the first question from the video (Students will first be given about 30 seconds to think about their answer to the question, then they will work with a partner taking turns to answer the question, giving each partner a chance. Last, teacher will ask students to raise their hands to share what they, or their partner, discussed).
  2. Think-Pair-Share will continue until all video questions are answered.

 

Independent Practice (You do):

  1. Students will have 5 minutes to complete the right column of their anticipation guides (“After discussion”).
  2. Exit Ticket: Students will independently answer 2 journal reflection questions and save them as notes for their opinion paragraph in the coming days.

 

Lesson 3: “Why Should I Be Good?”

  • Materials Needed:
    • Computer
    • Projector or Smart board
    • Internet access
    • Video: “Why Should I Be Good’?” (starts @ 7:26)
    • Anticipation guide
    • Discussion prompts
    • Student journals
    • Equity sticks (optional)
  • Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Objective: Students will be able to analyze information presented in order to critique the opinions of others.
  • Standards: 2.1; SL.2.1.A; SL.2.1.B; SL.2.1.C; SL.2.3; SL.2.4; SL.2.5; L.2.6
  • Evaluation Tool: Journal Scoring Rubric
  • Steps:

Explicit Instruction (I do):

  1. Teacher will begin lesson by reading the lesson objective and reminding students that this was the same objective as the previous day and will continue through the next few days. Teacher may also ask student volunteers to explain importance of objective in their own words, and how they practiced this skill the previous day.
  2. “Today, we will be watching another short video. This one is called, “Why Should I Be Good?” and tells the story of a boy who acquires special powers. While you are watching be sure to take notes to help write our final opinion paragraphs.”
  3. Before beginning video, teacher will pass out “Why Should I Be Good?” anticipation guide and read the directions aloud.
  4. Students will be asked to complete the first column (teacher may read each statement for struggling students and clarify statements as needed).
  5. Teacher will ask students to think about each statement as they watch the video clip so that they can explain of their initial opinion has changed, as well as why or why not.
  6. Using an internet connected device and a method of projection, teacher will pull up the video, “Why Should I Be Good?” that starts at 7:26). Video will play and teacher will pause video at each question that pops up on the screen.
  7. When video is paused, students will use their notebooks to write their responses in complete sentences to be shared at the end of the video and used to elaborate on their opinions in their writing project.

 

Guided Practice (We do):

  1. Once video ends, students will engage in Think-Pair-Share after teacher reads the first question from the video (Students will first be given about 30 seconds to think about their answer to the question, then they will work with a partner taking turns to answer the question, giving each partner a chance. Last, teacher will ask students to raise their hands to share what they, or their partner, discussed).
  2. Think-Pair-Share will continue until all video questions are answered.

 

Independent Practice (You do):

  1. Students will have 5 minutes to complete the right column of their anticipation guides (“After discussion”).

Exit Ticket: Students will independently answer 2 journal reflection questions and save them as notes for their opinion paragraph in the coming days.

[Please see PDF attached above for additional lesson plans & appendices]

Standards

  • 2.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
    • 2.1.A: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful way, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
    • 2.1.B: Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.
    • 2.1.C: Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.
  • 2.3: Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
  • 2.4: Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
  • 2.5: Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • 2.6: Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
  • 2.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
  • 2.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

W.2.5: With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

Resources

Arneson, Richard, “Egalitarianism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2013/entries/egalitarianism/>.

Brownlee, J., Curtis, E., Chesters, S.D., Cobb-Moore,C., Spooner-Lane, R., Whiteford, C. & Tait, G. (2014). Pre-service teachers’ epistemic perspectives about philosophy in the classroom: it is not a bunch of “hippie stuff.” Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 20(2), 170-188. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2013.848565

Cam, P. (2014). Philosophy for children, values education and the inquiring society. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 46(11), 1203-1211. https://dx.doi.org/10/1080/00131857.2013.771443

Dittmer, J. (n.d.). Applied Ethics. Rretrieved May 16, 2018, from http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/

Fieser, J. (n.d.). Ethics. Rretrieved April 18, 2018, from http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/

Matei, C. (2013). philosophical reflection and its benefits for children. Euromentor Journal, 4(2), 23.

Olson, Eric T., “Personal Identity”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2017/entries/identity-personal/>.

Philosophy Foundation, The. (2018). What is Philosophy? Retrieved from https://www.philosophy-foundation.org/what-is-philosophy

Timpe, K. (n.d.). Moral Character. Rretrieved May 16, 2018, from http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/

Välitalo, R., Juuso, H. & Sutinen, A. (2016). Philosophy for children as an educational practice. Studies in Philosophy in Education, 35, 79-92. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-015-9471-6

Waldron, Jeremy, “Property and Ownership”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/property/>.

Westheimer, J. (2015).What kind of citizen?: Educating our children for the common good. New York: Teachers College Press.

Williams, G. (n.d.). Responsibility. Rretrieved May 16, 2018, from http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/

Annotated Bibliography

Mosaic Films (Producer). (n.d.). What Makes Me Me & Other Interesting Questions [Video file]. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://vimeo.com/63342253

What Makes Me Me & Other Interesting Questions is a mini series of short films created for young children to explore some basic philosophical ideas. Each of the five episodes (in the original BBC animated adaptation format found at https://www.philosophy-foundation.org/what-makes-me-me) focuses on one question that any young child, and even adults, may be curious about.  For this project, teachers will use all 5 videos formatted for video players in the United States. The introductory film entitled, “What Makes Me Me?” shares the name of the whole compilation, while the second short, “Who Owns the Sky?” then starts at 4:22.  Following, “Why Should I Be Good” (beginning at 7:26) and “What’s Fair?” (10:16) are presented.  The series concludes with, “Am I Always Responsible for My Actions?” at 13:00.  The use of these video clips serve as a starting point to the exploration of further philosophical concepts and lead to a culminating Socratic Seminar and Opinion Writing Assignment in this curriculum unit.

Beginning the first day of this unit, students will watch and reflect on the first short video called, “What Makes Me Me?” The story presented here asks students to consider if they are the same person now as they were when they were born, and will they still be the same person when they are older.  Along those lines, students reflect on what makes then who they are as individuals whether or not they believe they can, or cannot, change.

The second short video from What Makes Me Me? for use in this curriculum unit called, “Who Owns the Sky?” (4:22), shows an example of two different groups of people who share the same river that have to come to an agreement about who will benefit from use of the river.  This film explores the idea of the ownership of natural resources, like a river, but can be extended to include even personal property.  By thinking of ownership in these terms, students will be encouraged to think about what happens when one person, or community, takes control over an item or resource, benefiting from access while leaving the others to their will.  This discussion will include questions of selfishness and consideration for the needs and wants of others.

Starting at 7:26, “Why Should I Be Good?” tells the story of a boy who finds a special ring that grants him powers.  With his newfound powers, the question becomes of he should use his powers for good, if it is okay for him to do bad things if he will not get caught, or if he should use the ring at all since he found it and it is not his.  Students will reflect on why people may, or may not, do good things.

Episode 4 of the series called, “What’s Fair?” (10:16), follows three friends who argue over who should carry what on their quest to find a golden bird.  This episode discusses what is considered to be “fair” and who and what determines this.  The relationship between fairness and equality, or equity vs. equality, is examined as we think about how those at a natural disadvantage are involved.  Students will be challenged to consider if equality is the same as equity, and if equality is always fair.  They will also try to define the meaning of “fairness” while brainstorming ways to make everyone happy.

The last video clip of this series is called, “Am I Always Responsible for My Actions?”  The first half of this story is an adaptation of a popular fable about a frog who carries a scorpion across a river.  The second part translates this fable into a real-world example that may be more authentic to the experiences of students.  In both stories, students are asked questions about a person’s “nature” and, connecting back to the first video about what makes people who they are, if there is anything that can be done to change who they are.