During my last practicum I was able to try some new things in the classroom with my students. I decided to try a Knowledge Building Circle with my class. This was new for me to teach, and new for my students to experience. This strategy is taken from the resource “Natural Curiosity”.
After speaking with my sponsor teacher she I both knew that the class would be a great class to try this with. They are so eager to learn and try new things. To give some background information, normally the class has quiet time during this block.
Although the class is adaptable it was still going to be a transition for the class to switch their daily routine. I knew that introducing something new to them would take a couple of days. I have done a KBC before as a participant in one of my own classes and also at a workshop. My plan was to first introduce what it was, create our own definition on what we knew the words meant. Below is the draft that we came up with as a class.
The anchor chart was put up each time we had our Knowledge Building Circle, so that students could look back at it.
We participated in a Knowledge Building Circle each day for the two weeks. The first day with this new strategy went surprisingly well. Students were interested and were catching on to the point of the circle.
By the end of the two weeks students were starting to use the phrase “I disagree because.” This was a huge step for the class to share their ideas and to support it. Not only did the class start to use language that was knew to them, that supported each others learning but they did so in a respectful way. There definitely was some helpful reminders of what it sounded like to respectfully disagree but over all students were able to communicate in an effective way.
Students not only began to develop new phrases to use during discussion but also new behaviours that supported an equal playing field. The purpose of a KBC is to eliminate hierarchy through different phrases, and actions. All of these things aren’t done at one time of course because it would be very overwhelming.
What I found most effective in introducing different aspects to the circle was to introduce ones that you could see naturally arising from the discussions students were having. By the end of the week students were placing their hand inside the circle rather than putting their hand up. Students waiting till their peers were finished speaking before they place their hand inside the circle.
To read more about what a Knowledge Building Circle is check out the book “Natural Curiosity.”
I should also mention that this was done with a grade 1/2 class. I was so very proud of them and the conversations that they were conducting on their own. As the teacher I was just there to guide and support when needed. By the end of the week two weeks they were leading their own KBC circle, and coming up with their own topics and questions!