Kids construct meaning through talking… make time for it to happen.

Think, share and listen.

Think, share and listen.

Circle time…

Yesterday I introduced my new class to circle time. I don’t always, but as it was their first Circle Time with their new classmates and me, we sat in a large circle. When I asked them why they thought a circle was a good arrangement for us to sit in to have a discussion they responded with, “So we can look at each other when speaking”.
“Good,” I thought, “this will work.”

Up front and behind the scenes goals…

I had three “upfront” goals –
*to talk about and understand what it means to be collaborative and cooperative
*to reflect on their collaboration and cooperation skills (and hopefully be more mindful in future)
*I wanted them to talk more freely without needing to put up their hands

I had two “behind the scenes” goals:
*to establish a frame of reference for future conversations about being collaborative and cooperative
*to make circle time enjoyable and something to look forward to

It started well…

Each student was given a green/ red card – thinking/ ready – this way I would know who had something to share and they wouldn’t need to put up their hands and get impatient. They responded well, although some still put up their hands until Jake pointed out to them, “You don’t need to put up your hand, she can see you are ready.”

Desperate to talk and be part of the conversation…

Everyone had something to say and some were holding private conversations because they couldn’t wait. In addition they were directing the conversation at and through me which made the others feel like they were just waiting for their turn, rather than being part of the conversation.

Next time…

A trusted colleague gave me some advice. She reminded me how as adults we like to construct meaning through talking. She suggested I don’t sit in a large circle for the whole circle time so that kids could break into smaller groups and talk more and more freely. Of course!!! I immediately thought back to the inside/outside circle I had observed and tried several times before, which had worked very well to achieve my “upfront” goals.

Inside/ outside circle…

Half the class forms and inner circle, looking outward. the other half form an outer circle facing inwards and sitting opposite an inner circle person. After a brief sharing, the outer or inner circle moves one place to the left or right and they share again.

Constructing meaning through talking, listening and learning from each other…
They get to talk a lot, listen actively, build their understanding from what they hear and construct meaning. This comes naturally to children! It doesn’t make sense for me to have whole class discussions when I am trying to achieve my “upfront” and “behind the scenes” goals!!

Set them up for success…

I keep advising my student to set themselves up for success. I need to do the same!