Socratic Seminars can sometimes seem overly serious since they focus on critical and creative thinking skills and because they are often (mistakenly) only used for advanced students. But learning should almost always be fun and enjoyable. Even when students are engrossed in serious conversations, there can always be a playful spin.
Try this for your next seminar with an experienced group. Get a collection of blindfolds or scarves (you can usually get something that will work at a dollar store) and have the students engage in a conversation without being able to see each other! They will have to work on their active listening skills, especially since they won't have non-verbal cues to help.
My students have always enjoyed the playfulness of using blindfolds. Typically, a third of the students love using them, a third dislike having something scratchy on their faces, and a third liked the novelty, but might not be interested in continuing to use them.
They all gain something, however. The students who liked the blindfolds found that they were able to focus better without visual distractions. The students who were so-so about the experience still found that they liked practicing intense listening. And even the students who didn't like the experience appreciated and understood how incredibly useful non-verbal cues are for communication.
When students need to cite a written text, they can take turns peeking and looking for text evidence. Try using a text such as a short quote where the meaning is mainly outside of the words, or a “text” like a song that involves listening. Once listening is highlighted by the experience, students will likely be interested in learning more about active listening skills, so a natural extension is to teach them about levels of listening.
Image Semion Krivenko-Adamov - Pixabay