Inside / Outside Circles

Research shows the people doing the (educational) talking are the ones doing the thinking. Get your students talking with inside/outside circles or lines!

Half the class makes a circle facing out. The other half makes a circle facing the inside circle. If your room is too small for circles, use facing lines or even 2 sets of facing lines.  Students converse for a short period of time, then rotate in opposite directions to continue their discussion with a new partner. Use a timer, bell or musical cue when it is time to change partners. Here are some ideas for what they can discuss:  

  • Debrief questions facilitated by teacher at the end of the unit
  • Student-led brainstorm of existing knowledge of topics before an upcoming unit
  • Student-created questions from an activity, text, or other learning experience
  • Interview questions as a fictional or historical character
  • Controversial, opinion-based questions or to argue a position

It is also a great opportunity to step outside and enjoy some fresh air if you do this activity outside!

Watch It In Action

Here are three different videos to see how this works in classrooms of all types:

Tech Tool Tie-In

Since it's the close of our series on instructional strategies, our tool for today is a website that houses many more instructional strategies to help you enjoy some sweetness for the rest of the month.  Teach Toolkit has strategies organized by function, with videos for each one demonstrating it in action, and tips on how to successfully implement it.

Bonus Resource

Here's a great resource on the basic logistics of making inside / outside circles work for you.