Reflection: Routines and Procedures Working Together: Creating a Contract for Group Work - Section 1: Engage


Creating circles for discussion is a strategy that is founded in tradition and research. It takes time for students to get over the "hokey-ness" of creating discussion circles because students feel uncomfortable sharing, having other looking at them and actively listening. At the beginning, circles can come across as inauthentic. However, as students gain confidence, the circle eventually becomes a safer place for sharing. To develop a safe place for sharing, it is necessary to revisit norms each time we enter a large or small discussion circle. I open each discussion be reminding students that we should honor one speaker at a time, be on task and be safe physically and emotionally.

As this quote describes, the power of a circle is rooted in nature:

“Everything the Power of the World does, it does in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” the Lakota holy man in Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt

Students like to read this quote as a way to make connections between our discussion circles and circles in nature, which promotes the process of "getting over the weirdness" of sitting in a circle. Sharing how the circle as a strategy for discussion has actually been researched by "real scientists" can also help students realize the importance of this strategy. For more information and research on circle discussion, visit: The Circle Process.

  Discussion Circles
  Routines and Procedures: Discussion Circles
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Working Together: Creating a Contract for Group Work

Unit 2: Engaging 21st Century Scientists
Lesson 7 of 12

Objective: SWBAT work together to create a group work contract.

Big Idea: Working together is a creative, exciting and rewarding experience that can be efficient if group members understand their roles and agree on what they can contribute to the group.

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  50 minutes
group work
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