Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Inside Outside Circles Discussion Activity

Do you sometimes set up discussion activities, only to watch as students either gawk at each other uncomfortably, allow 1 or 2 individuals to dominate or end up talking about something completely off-topic? This activity is a great way to generate lots of focused talk. Because the discussions are short and have a specific prompt to guide them, there is no option to not speak, and not enough time to exhaust the points that could be made. Here's how it goes:

  • Divide the class into 2 equal groups.
  • One group forms an outer circle, and the other an inner circle.
  • Students are given a question to discuss a timer is set (the number of minutes depends on the focus of the discussion but usually around 1-3 minutes is enough).
  • When the time has expired, one of the circles moves clockwise or anticlockwise while the other remains stationary. (This alternates between the circles each time.)
  • The activity continues until a preset time has been reached, or all people in inner and outer circles have spoken to each other.

Watch more on this, and see it in action below.


This activity is so adaptable, it can be used in any subject where a discussion is beneficial to the learning. When I'm not using stations, this is my second go-to with task cards, but it can be done even simpler than this by writing or displaying a question on the board at each rotation. 
Give it a go, and see how it enlivens your students. 

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