Sunday, September 4, 2016

Engagement Strategies: Inside/Outside Circle

This year I have a very energetic class (read: chatty, low attention span, busy bodies). I'm having to reach far into my tool belt to keep them engaged during my lessons. Which led me to the idea to start a blog series on quick & easy engagement strategies that can be used for any lesson, starting tomorrow!

Engagement strategy #1 is inside/outside circle.

What is it: In this strategy, have half your students form a circle facing the outside. The other half of your students will line up in an outer circle facing them. Don't worry about who they're facing - you're going to move them. is it weird I get a sick sense of satisfaction when they think they get to be partners with their best friend, only to be moved??

How to use it: Give a direction for moving (example: outside circle move to the left 2 people; inside circle move to the right 3 people). Then have the pairs (people facing each other) share or discuss something. Move again and discuss something new or repeat with a new partner. Repeat as many times as needed.

How I used it this year: Students individually brainstormed a list of science lab rules. Then we watched a quick cartoon over lab safety and they checked off the rules they heard in the video. Afterwards, we used inside/outside circle to reflect. First they shared a rule they heard in the video that they had written down. Then, they shared a rule they had written down that wasn't in the video. Finally, they had to find 1 new rule from their partner and write it down.

Why it works: Students are standing and moving which helps with engagement. It also forces them to work with various people without you having to be the one to choose pairs. Finally, you can quickly move them to a new partner within the same activity - this helps with short attention spans.

Bonus tip: Not enough room in your classroom? Me neither - I took my class outside for this! We were only outside about 10 minutes, but the extra burst of sun and fresh air also helped with focus. Plus we used the circle in the middle of the basketball court on the playground to form our outside circle.

Your turn! Comment below how you've used this strategy. 

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