Criteria for Implementation
The CAN DO! Circle (K-6) and The Circle (7-12)
Form a physical circle with the students whenever possible.
Chairs may be placed in a circle or students may sit on the floor. When this is not possible, students may “mentally” “Circle up!” The Circle becomes a way of managing students without lectures, grades, or coercion. “Let’s Circle up!” is a quick signal the teacher may use for students to form a circle.
The essence of the Circle experience is to provide a safe haven for interactive communication and acceptance for students’ responses.
Create an inviting and encouraging Circle atmosphere without
condemnation. This is a time for a sharing of thoughts in an accepting environment. The teacher is seeking to learn more about the thoughts, ideas and opinions of each unique individual. Students’ life experiences are varied; therefore, they may express themselves with negative as well as positive emotions and thoughts. Within reason, all student input is valid. If, however, a counter-productive comment is made, the facilitator may elect to set the tone by saying:
“I understand your views but I don’t necessarily condone them.” If insiteful behavior occurs, the facilitator may excuse the individual from the Circle.
The role of the teacher is to act as the facilitator within
Music is the stimulus for The CAN DO! Circle, and The Circle.
A CD is provided with a selection of songs that address youth issues.
Song lyrics are distributed to each student. The teacher selects and plays
the song that integrates the subject matter for discussion. For instance,
a Kindergarten lesson about insects might be an appropriate time to
“Circle up!” and listen to the song entitled “Bugs”; older students may
hear a song entitled “Safe Street”, or “Peace Please” when discussion
centers around the subject of a safe environment or a session on
personal safety. Students read the lyrics as the song is played. As
students become familiar with the song(s), they may want to sing along. The object is to stimulate students to respond to the message of the song after the teacher has initiated the lead questioning or discussion strategy.
Interactive communication requires the ability to continue with appropriate questions and to give each student time to THINK and respond. To a student having difficulty responding, a simple “May I come back to you?” allows the teacher to move on.
The CAN DO! Criterion for implementing The CAN DO! Circle(K-6) and The Circle (7-12) (cont’d.)
The goal of the teacher is to help each student build a positive
As a member of the Circle, the teacher becomes a model to all participants.
Questioning & Discussion Strategies begin.
The facilitator may open discussion with a lead strategy, such as:
“Let’s share a particular concept, idea, line, or message in this song that caught your attention or was of special interest to you.” The facilitator manages the students with the purpose of encouraging self-expression and interaction. The Questioning & Discussion Strategies stimulate higher level thinking skills.
Allowing pupil-to-pupil verbalization and interaction within
the Circle is essential for the all-important exchange of ideas, information and responses among the peer group particularly when discussing serious youth issues such as violence, substance abuse and peer pressure. This verbal interaction enables individuals to express what they are thinking and gives thought to the need of each individual to make choices that will lead to responsible behavior.
Written Interaction (optional)
If time constraints do not allow for verbal discussion of all Questioning and Discussion strategies, at the time the teacher plans the lessons she may identify some strategies that could be used as a written seatwork or homework assignment.
Closing Session Remarks
Toward the end of the Session, in an effort to elicit response from all students in the session, the facilitator announces, “The Circle is expecting your thoughts”. (Expressed in this manner, this statement underscores the value of receiving each student’s input.)
The CAN DO! Criterion for implementing The CAN DO! Circle: (cont’d.)
The “Talking Stick” is then passed around for the purpose of eliciting a closing remark from each student. The facilitator asks,
“Do you have any thoughts you would like to share before closing the Circle?”
If a student has nothing to add, he or she must say, “I don’t choose to comment at this time”, passing The Talking Stick on to the next
student. When a student does choose to comment, The Talking Stick becomes a symbol used to recognize that he or she has “the floor”, to share an important message – without interruption – before the Circle culminates.
Circle Session Closure
Depending upon the subject area and how students “connect” with the issue(s) at hand, some sessions will be humorous and filled with
laughter; others may bring tears. The facilitator guides students to a satisfying session closure with the assurance that, if time constraints do not allow for all comments to be expressed in that particular session, a future Circle session will enable students to continue on within the subject area.
At the end of the Circle session, students are encouraged to “high-five” each other and say, “Well done!” (or express similar statements of mutual encouragement and support).
“Let the learner learn.” – Socrates
Socrates rejected the lecture mode of teaching, but instead believed “The Question” was the means of inducing thinking and leading the student to discover his own wisdom.
Code: CDCC Circle Criterion