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Philosophical Chairs

Discussion
What is it?
Why does it work?
How can I use it?
It’s so easy…
What is it?

A discussion technique
 Students answer a yes or no question on
a sheet of paper
 Students then choose a side in the room
– yes or no (front or back)
 There are a few chairs in the middle for
undecided
Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs

• Stay hot for only 1 Minute


• Repeat/Rephrase a 2nd Time
3. Hold 3 Seconds Before Talking
• Do not comment until the 4th
comment
• Move!
Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs

1. Stay hot for only 1 Minute

This means you can only stay in the


middle chairs for a short time. You can
only stay ‘undecided’ for a minute.
Then you should make an effort to
move to one side or the other.
The hot seat should be ‘hot’
Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs

2. Repeat/Rephrase a 2nd Time


Before a student speaks they must
rephrase, summarize, or repeat the
main point of the last person that
spoke.
This helps the discussion along and shows
respect for the last person’s opinion.
It also buys time for the person to organize
their thoughts before they begin.
Rephrase
Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs

3. Hold 3 Seconds Before Talking


By holding 3 seconds the student is being
sure that the last person is completely
done with their comment.
Often students will hesitate while thinking
and may not be finished.
This is also a nice technique to keep
respect in the front of the student’s
minds.
Yield… for 3 seconds
Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
4. Do not comment until the 4th
comment
After a student has commented, they can
not speak again until another person
on their side has already had a turn.
This helps to eliminate a ‘tennis match’
from breaking out between two
students.
Wait your turn…
Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
1. Move!
Students should not make comments to
show support, but rather move their feet.
If a comment has been made that they
agree with, a student will get up and
move to that side of the room. They are
then moving “chairs” to show support.
It does not mean that they have changed
their mind completely.
Show support by movement
Write the rules & the question on the
board.

• Stay hot for only 1 Minute


• Repeat/Rephrase a 2nd Time
3. Hold 3 Seconds Before Talking
• Do not comment until the 4th
comment
• Move!
Follow the rules
Role of the moderator

 The moderator should stay in the center.

 Call “time out” when a fact is wrong or if


someone is not being respectful.
 Direct and call on students who have not
yet had a chance to speak.
 Encourage the question – keep them on
topic
Closing Arguments
Closure (if time allows)
 Give each side 30 seconds to express
their opinion
 Have them choose a speaker, give them
2 minutes to organize comments
 Flip a coin to see which side goes first
 ALWAYS have students write their
answers to the question and opinion
before and after P. Chairs (for academic
classes)
How can I Assess Phil. Chairs?
 Write the Question & Answer
 Take Notes During
 Reflection at end of class:

Did my answer to the question become


strengthened, weakened, or changed
completely?
Who in the class strengthened, weakened,
changed my opinion by their comments.
Possible Topics
 Nothing any human being does is ever truly
selfless
 People on welfare are lazy
 Where would you rather live? Athens or
Sparta (world history)
 Unclaimed animals in the pound should be
used for medical research
 Every student has the opportunity to succeed
in school
 Students should be able to select their own
teachers
Other techniques

 Think– Pair - Share


 Pendulum (sometimes called “Lineup”)
 Socratic Seminar