Concentric Circles Teaching Strategy

Stop boring lessons and class discussions! Learn how to use the Concentric Circles teaching strategy in your classroom.

The concentric circles teaching strategy is a great tool to keep in your lesson planning toolbox. It is a different format for class discussions or reviewing concepts.

How Does The Concentric Circles Teaching Strategy Work?

  1. Divide the class in half.  Have the students in the first half form a circle with each student facing outward.  Next have the students in the second half form a second circle around the first with each student in the outer circle facing a student in the inner circle.
  2. Pose a question to the class.  Have the students in the inner circle explain their opinion/answer to the student they are facing in the outer circle.  When a student finishes, he or she should say “Done” or “Pass” and the student in the outer circle can then share his or her response with the student he or she is facing in the inner circle.
  3. Post a visual timer at the front of the room so students know how long they have to speak. 
  4. When all students in both circles have had a chance to share with their partners, have the circles rotate to new partners (i.e. all students in the inner circle move one place to the right while the outer circle stays still).
  5. Pose a new question and repeat.

How Do I Use The Concentric Circles Teaching Strategy?

  1. Class Discussions:  In a traditional class discussion with the average-sized class during the normal 45-minute period, you will cover maybe five or six questions well and the average student will have the chance to participate at best two or maybe three times.  By using Concentric Circles, you can cover many more questions all while each student gets to answer every one of them.
  2. Review:  You can easily use this strategy as a fun and different review.  Pose questions from the unit or material you wish to review and have students respond.  The student that responds second can add to or even contradict the first student’s answer.  (If you are doing it this way, switch which circle goes first every round so that the same students don’t always get to have the initial answer or only the response.)  You can even make this a game with students collecting points for themselves or for their circle for each correct response.

Why Do I Love This Strategy?

  1. All students get to participate!  There are no students left out as each student is asked to share during each round.
  2. It gets students up and moving!  Students get sick of sitting quietly in desk chairs.  In this activity, students have to stand, move, spin, and talk all while thinking and constructively participating in class.
  3. While participating in Concentric Circles students are actively talking for a full half of this activity and for the other half is focusing on or being focused on directly by a partner. This leaves little time for students to be disengaged in learning. 

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