Inner Circle, Outer Circle

Today as I'm clearing out filing cabinets and deciding what stays and what recycles, I came across an activity that I hadn't thought about in over a year. 
It's an oldie, but it's definitely a goodie and well worth sharing.

I've always used it while students are standing, but one resource from Edmond Schools {here} suggested actually arranging student desks like this.

And while you can certainly use this activity for pre-and-post assessments like suggested in the above adaptation of a handout from a 2008 differentiation training I attended, another effective use is for team-building, 
a getting-to-know-you activity, or a character-development awareness exercise.

Start with easy, non-threatening questions:  
What's your favorite movie?
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite season?
Switch off which partner gets to start but always allow 
enough time for both people share.
Mix up the configuration in which students rotate so that they have to think:  Inner circle move three spaces to the right, outer circle move five spaces to the right. 
Assign a circle monitor so students get to decide how they'll move.

As they become comfortable and familiar with one another,
stretch your participants with questions like:
What adjectives would your friends use to describe you?
On a scale of 1-10, how messy is your room right now?
Talk about one of your dreams.
Who are you more like, your mom or your dad? Explain.

You can even give dilemmas like those on my character cards:
The cashier gives you too much change; what do you do?
What do you do when someone breaks his/her promise?
Is it fair if your older brother has a later bedtime? Why or why not?

The University of Minnesota suggests using it for literature circles {here} as does the National Urban Alliance {here}. The Texas Education Agency posted how it would work in HS English classes {here} and Ayn Grubb from Oliver Middle School in OK proposes using them to give students an active role in their learning {here}.

So much potential with this engaging movement activity;
I'd love to know how it goes if you try it!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great activity... I love how you start with conversational topics... so that comfort is ensured. I find that kids are more inclined to interact when they feel secure--but, of course, you would already know that! Thanks for sharing another helpful strategy (about which I had forgotten!) that I can put into use tomorrow...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade


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