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Reflecting, Sharing, and Deepening Understanding

~ Talking Circles ~

Talking Circles                                                                                                                      

Why? To trigger students’ reflection and self-evaluations with the intention of strengthening their intentions for utilizing the focus in their writing and to nurture their passion for the written word; to offer students a ritual for sharing and celebrating their writing with one another

Who?  All students engage in our Talking Circle gatherings meeting as whole group, small groups, or in pairs.

When? Most often, at the end of a Workshop; Daily for 3 – 10 minutes, most often; Taking other forms such as publishing parties or writers’ theater, this sharing and reflection time may be expanded to 20 minutes or more (depending on the age of the students).

How?  See the following pages for just a few options of the infinite ways we can engage students in metacognitive reflection about why and/or how they read (or write or think as mathematicians or work as scientists…).  Helping them see and name their ways of working to understand, reflection experiences can be oral, written, and artistic and they can be individually voiced and/or created and communicated collaboratively.

Talking Circles

Engaging in talking circles or sharing at the close of our workshop or school day gives students additional opportunities to process their learning and self-evaluate their use of our focus strategy/skill and teach one another/us. These gatherings also strengthen our sense of community and provide me ongoing data about my students’ literacy learning. A few key ways I work to ignite talking circles include:

  • What did you about yourself as a reader/writer/thinker today? [Or, what did you learn as a reader today?]
  • We studied ____ today.  How is this helping you as a writer/reader?
  • We have been learning about how to identify important ideas when we read.  What will you teach your kindergarten buddy about identifying important ideas? [Or, what advice could you give your buddy/family member about _______?]
  • We’ve been talking about questions and the energy questions give us as writers/readers.  Let’s share a question which is fueling your writing/reading work right now!  [Or, let’s each share an “I wonder…” from our own reading.]
  • As I conferred with Emilio today, he said that he would like to share a part of his writing with you.  Emilio, what feedback would help you as a writer?  We will listen with this goal in mind. 
  • Lateesha just read a wonderful book series.  She wants to tell you about these books to invite you to read them yourself. 
  • We’ve been studying why and how to make connections as we read.  Let’s share a connection you made today!
  • A lot of us have been working on solving new words as readers/ writers.  Let’s share something you did today as a reader/writer when you were stuck or confused by a word!

Talking Circle/Sharing Session Options

  • Whole group
  • As partners
  • In small groups
    • When students are successful talking reflectively in whole group gatherings, model and invite them to meet in small groups to engage in their sharing periodically.  Listen in on small groups and make note of strengths, breakthroughs, tangles, etc. to inform your conferences and focus lessons. 
    • Train students in how to function as a small group/book club/writing group with “fish bowl” demonstrations, watching Oprah Winfrey books clubs, and debriefing successful attempts (including creating an anchor chart to guide future small group efforts).
  • Students as teachers
    • 2-5 students each workshop share or lead the talking circle.  Each student knows in advance when it is his/her day to share/lead the talking circle.
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