How It Works
Before the discussion, you will want to lay down a few ground rules:
- Only members of the inner circle can speak.
- Only one person speaking at a time.
- Listen and respond to your classmates, don’t just wait for them to finish.
- Speak to the group, not to the teacher.
- Be respectful, ensure that everyone has a chance to speak.
- The goal of the discussion is to help one another understand, not to debate.
When you hand out the list of questions, instruct students to be prepared to answer at least five of the choices, in case the question they’ve chosen is taken before they have a chance to speak.
The discussion goes like this: one student asks a question from the sheet, then gives his or her thoughts on it. Answers must be more than a single sentence. After the student presenting the question has finished, others may comment and the discussion goes from there. Once the discussion of that particular issue seems to end, the next student presents their question, and so on.
Students may take a question or two to get started, but they usually start jumping in. You may have to encourage a few of the quiet students to contribute, but for the most part this discussion should require very little teacher moderation.
Once all students in the inner circle have posed and answered questions, it’s time to switch circles. Those on the outside will move to the inside and the discussion will continue with the new group.
While in the outer circle, students are required to pay attention and write down their thoughts on interesting issues raised by classmates. Turning in their filled-out half sheet is part of the grade for the assignment.