Emoji Wheel Connection

The Emoji Wheel supports students to build a closer community by expressing and reflecting on emotions before diving into the day's work
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About This Strategy

A lot happens for students in a typical school day and as teachers ask them to transition from one content area to another, they bring emotions from earlier interactions that, gone unacknowledged, may show up in unproductive ways. The Wheel of Emojis offers students a structured way to speak to what is occupying their minds and hearts before engaging in academic work. The teacher asks students to get up and move around the room while s/he 'spins' a virtual wheel that has different emotional moments on it. When the wheel stops, it will prompt students to share that type of moment with a partner. For example, the wheel might stop on a proud moment, and students could share a time when they were proud.  Teachers can also make it an active strategy similar to musical chairs; ask students to walk around the room and, when the music stops, pair up to share their personal story. The Wheel of Emojis may be helpful to engage in as a bellringer or activator, after trying a new strategy or procedure in class, when students are in a particularly stressful week, when acquiring new, more cognitively demanding skills, or when a text addresses a controversial or emotional topic. As a result of this strategy, students can clear mental space, build meaningful connections to one another, and identify their feelings, thereby allowing for increased self-management.

Implementation Steps

15 minutes
  1. Prepare your virtual emoji wheel using Wheel Decide, a free and easy customizable spinning wheel that allows you to choose which emotional moments you want to offer to students for discussion. If you choose to use music, decide on it ahead of time, or use a playlist on Spotify.

  2. Explain the directions and expectations for activity to the group.

  3. Ask students to stand up and walk around while you play the music. When you stop the music, students will partner with someone near them while you spin the emoji wheel. If you'd like students to be able to think about their answers while they walk, you can spin the wheel first and then play the music. Alternately, you could print six emojis for every student and cut them into cards. You would engage in the same process, but instead of spinning the emoji wheel, students would pick a card from their partner's deck and then respond.

  4. Repeat for as many rounds as you see fit, spinning the wheel for a new emoji or asking students to discuss the same emoji, but with a new partner.

  5. When you are finished, ask students to sit down and journal about wonderings, connections, trends or anything else that stands out to them before you transition into the lesson.

Questions to Consider

  • How can you use this strategy to transition into or out of challenging work or a challenging topic?

  • How can you modify the emojis on the wheel to better fit the time of day or year?

  • Is there a time when it make sense to pair students purposefully during this activity?

Coach Tips

Laura Cruz
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

The Emoji Wheel is great to use for groups that do a lot of their work asynchronously as it helps them share more personal moments and therefore bond as a community. Sometimes we limit our sharing at the beginning of a meeting to what we call "Sunshine Moments" to start the meeting with positivity. The Emoji Wheel is also great to use with students when they are working on separate assignments and need a moment to come together and identify with each other to process; sometimes this allows space for advice sharing between students.

Tech Tools


  • Padlet is a digital corkboard type tool that students can use to gather information or reflections. Teachers can easily access each students' Padlet with a shared link.

  • In blended classes, Padlet allows students to share their emotional moment asynchronously as they work through individual pathways. Padlet also allows students to share emotional moments without moving around the room. Students can also post anonymously.

Wheel Decide

  • Wheel Decide allows users to make decisions using a virtual spinning wheel. Choices on the wheel are customizable and can apply to many situations such as choosing a group to share or a discussion topic.

  • Wheel Decide helps you provide a variety of choices for discussion. You can populate the wheel with a variety of emotional moments, or choose all negative emotions, all positive emotions, etc.