Charles Ames Fischer

Teacher Author Consultant Mentor

Sample Professional Development Workshops

Facilitating Student Dialogue Through Socratic Seminar

Grade Levels: 2-12

Time: 3, 5 or 10+ Hours

Socratic Seminar is a method to move toward student-based dialogue in the classroom. Through increased responsibility and participation, the students will develop critical and creative thinking skills, speaking and listening abilities, and deep reading proficiency. This workshop explores the Socratic Seminar in its entirety, from mental preparation through post-seminar reflection and evaluation. The initial part will be dedicated to defining and differentiating Socratic Seminars from other methods, such as discussion or debate. Subsequent parts will break the Socratic Seminar process down into six manageable stages, with numerous examples, strategies, and problem-solving techniques. Particular attention will be paid to text selection and group formation.

After this amazing workshop, teachers will know how to:

• Meet and exceed standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, using Socratic Seminars and other techniques.

• Structure and schedule seminars for various curricular purposes and numbers of students

• Assess students in multiple ways

• Facilitate groups through various stages of development 

• Generate better opening questions

• Avoid and/or solve potential problems

• Deepen class discussions into dialogue 

Longer workshops will go into more detail, including: strategies for individualizing, working with different media, types of questions, student roles and jobs within the group, using Socratic Seminars as a class or curriculum by itself, and much more. 


Teaching and Learning Using the Multiple Intelligences

Grade Levels: 4-12

Time: 3, 5 or 10+ Hours

This workshop is first and foremost for experiencing and learning about the multiple intelligences on a personal level. Once participants understand the variety, planning and implementing the multiple intelligences for all occasions. We’ll start with a Multiple Intelligence survey and a brief overview of Gardner’s eight intelligences (plus possible others). Then, in pairs, teachers will have direct experiences with all of the varied intelligences, followed by discussion and questions. The last part will focus on helping teachers incrementally develop MI assignments, projects and entire curricula.

After this workshop, teachers will know how to:

• Address areas of the Common Core State Standards

• Use the Multiple Intelligences to enhance existing curriculum

• Differentiate instruction taking into account student strengths and weaknesses

• Challenge students in simple and effective ways

Longer workshops will go into more detail with each intelligence, will include more activities and experiential learning, and will be more customized to the specific needs of the workshop community.


Five Types of Reading and How to Use Them

Grade Levels: 4-12

Time: 3, 5 or 10 Hours

Experienced readers change their strategies and habits based on the material, sometimes scanning or skipping whole sections, sometimes stopping to process dense concepts and so on. Struggling readers typically approach all texts in the same, singular way, whether they are reading a newspaper article or trying to elicit meaning from an abstract poem.

This practical workshop introduces different types of reading for multiple purposes in order to help students develop better reading habits. We will explore five types of reading and how to use them, with examples and strategies for each type. Teachers will find that using the types of reading clearly communicates their expectations to their students, making assignments more effective. Students will find that the increased clarity of reading assignments can reduce their homework time while still allowing them to effectively engage with the material.

After this workshop, teachers will know how to:

• Address the integrated literacy components of the Common Core State Standards 

• Create specific reading assignments for increased clarity and focus

• Use different types of assignments to promote critical thinking and reading skills

• Differentiate reading assignments using a simple code


Promoting Critical & Creative Thinking

Grade Levels: 2-12

Time: 3, 5 or 10 Hours

This practical workshop will explore two types of thinking and how to use them to achieve specific goals, such as meeting the Common Core State Standards. Critical thinking is typically a rigid sequential process that involves analysis, reasoning and evaluation. Creative thinking, on the other hand, is typically a flexible, playful process that involves generating possibilities, changing patterns, and discovering new ideas.

Both types of thinking complement one another, but many students favor one type of thinking, sometimes to the exclusion of the other. Extremely creative students, for example, may lack the critical thinking skills to evaluate their own work or the work of other artists. They may even be unable to differentiate “quality” work. Overly critical students may immediately dismiss new possibilities for themselves and may be stuck in clichés and standard ideas.

Both critical and creative thinking can be taught across the curriculum, and in this workshop you will learn simple and effective tools for promoting both.


How to Ask Better Questions

Grade Levels: K-12

Time: 2, 3, or 5 Hours

Questions are a vital part of any learning process. They are exciting, open and adventurous. They can promote inquiry, can generate curiosity, can guide research projects and science experiments, and much more. Ask the right question at the right time and the students will jump into action. Ask that same question at a different time, with a different group, or in a different way and the students may yawn and wonder when class will be over.

 This incredible workshop will help teachers of all subjects and grade levels learn how to ask better, more engaging questions. We will explore many facets of the questioning process, including a special focus on how answering questions can affect both critical and creative thinking.

After this interesting workshop, teachers will know how to:

• Integrate better questions into the Common Core State Standards 

• Ask genuine questions that tap into higher-order thinking skills

• Use different types of questions toward a variety of purposes

• Develop better questioning skills in themselves and their students


Evaluating Classroom Conversation

Grade Levels: K-12

Time: 2, 3, or 5 Hours

Many teachers value classroom conversation and student participation. After all, students often become more engaged in classes where they are able to share their thoughts and opinions. This is probably why many teachers choose to give or are required to give a “class participation” grade. Many problems immediately arise, however. What constitutes “good” participation? How do you assess the quality of a discussion? How do you encourage shy students to contribute more and help dominant students listen more?

This incredible workshop will help teachers of all subjects and levels learn how to create meaningful grades out of the chaos of classroom conversation.

After this interesting workshop, teachers will know how to:

• Connect discussions, Socratic Seminars, debates into the Common Core State Standards

• Track and map conversations in order to collect useful data

• Assess students and groups in order to promote learning

• Create goals for individuals and groups to create better conversation

• Create legitimate grades for students and groups using a variety of tools    

• Differentiate class discussions from dialogues


Creative Writing

Ages: 9+

Time: 2, 3, or 5 Hours

Various writing workshops for those interested in taking their writing to new levels. I offer both fiction and poetry workshops and classes.

After this interesting workshop, participants will:

• Tap into their creativity

• Learn new methods for generating writing ideas

• Learn about powerful revising and editing strategies