Talking Circles Promote Equitable Discourse

  • Talking Circles Promote Equitable Discourse

    Marcus Hung
    A structured discussion format disrupts patterns of stratified talk and facilitates broader student participation.
    Teachers facilitate math talk in the classroom, but introducing a structured discussion format called the talking circle can influence opportunities for equitable student participation. Drawing on my reflections over the 2013–14 academic year and reviewing my detailed teaching notes and lesson plans, I take a close look at the structure of the talking circle and compare it with that of two other discussion formats that I commonly use in my classroom—traditional whole-class discussions and small-group discussions. I explore a mechanism that can potentially disrupt patterns of stratified classroom talk, with tradeoffs between frequency and spontaneity of student contributions. I hope teachers can use this information to begin experimenting with talking circles in their classrooms, finding versions that fit their school culture, and to reflect critically on the issue of promoting equitable classroom discourse.