Testing it Out

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!




11 thoughts on “Testing it Out

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    1. Thank you! The first theme I used was sound. We were just starting our sound unit so I used this time to get students to start thinking about what they think sound is. It was really neat to see what students came up with and how they built of each others responses! ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. This is awesome, Christine! Ever since practicing our KBC in class, I have been eager to try and implement it myself but wasn’t sure how it would work in a primary setting. What kinds of questions did you ask to guide the discussions?


    1. Thank you! It was exciting to be able to try this our and have it support the classes learning. I tried to connect the themes and questions to prior learning, things that we were doing last class. Then students got to the point where they would select a topic/theme/question. I didn’t have to do much of deciding on questions as the students really grasped that part of it. The part that I facilitated most was how the circle was ran not necessarily the questions! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I love this Christine! I am amazed that your students were using langauge, like “I disagree with that”. Teaching students how to communicate effectively, share thoughts, and respect others opinions are such important skills they will build upon through their life. I want to try this with my class!! What did you say to them in regards to introducing KBC and how to start it?


    1. It was definitely a great experience, and new learning opportunity for all of us! To start it off I introduced it as a new way of us having a discussion. Students were already familiar with having circle time to have different conversations, such as share and tell. This did take a couple days for students to get use to it but it was an interesting process!


  3. Thanks for sharing Christine! I am very interested in learning more about KBC. What is the purpose of a KBC and how would one go about starting one in their own classroom? It would have been easier for the reader to follow if you had given an overview of what a KBC is and how you do it prior to diving into details with your class.
    Overall, it was an interesting post and is something I will consider trying with my future classes.


    1. Thanks Jordie! It was a great success with my class. After we had experienced it ourselves in our Science methods class last semester, it was great to be able to teach it to my class myself. I will keep that in mind for next time in regards to defining it.

      It supports discourse as a communal activity, and learners can come together and share ideas, pose questions, revisit thoughts, and refine thoughts. The structure of this discussion format supports inquiry, and its goal is to improve ideas. It โ€œserves to identify shared problems and gaps in understanding and to advance the understanding beyond the level of the most knowledgeable individual (Natural Curiosity).โ€ This is another way to have a classroom discussion that provides structures to support different learning styles & approaches.

      You could start it in your classroom at any point. It depends on what your doing with your class, and the goals of your class as well. I decided to start this to support the potential possibility of doing an inquiry unit with my class later on in the year. I started it by discussing what it means, we broke down what each word meant. After we broke down the meaning and purpose, we then chose a topic to try out the circle with. As the week went on the circle adapted to where the class was going with it. If you’d like more details and examples I highly recommend the book “Natural Curiosity,” it will provide great examples and explanations as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Resource: Natural Curiosity by Lorraine Chiarotto


  4. Thanks for sharing Christine. I would like to try this out in my classroom, as my students are very eager to learn and are great at group discussions. Do you do this in your regular classroom? I am just wondering about space. Do you move the desks? My class isn’t really set up to be able to have students stand or sit in a circle? I am wondering what space you use.


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