Circles of Community are open community sessions that promote talking and listening to children. Each session aims to build within each child a sense of equity, a time when children are invited to consider a provocation, an intentional teaching moment or spontaneous event.
In Community Circles talking and listening are developed when:
Children’s ideas and thoughts are used without re-framing or interpretation so that they are a genuine record of their thinking. When the idea or thought is removed from the rest of the thinking group, the idea needs to be recorded as evidence of a contribution, but not engaged.
Open ended questions will be created in response to an interest from the children. The questions will be posed as part of a conversation and are designed to stimulate thought rather than test knowledge. The flow of reflective talk is critical to the process, to create a partnership of exploration and discovery. Questions and answer sessions have a philosophical sense about them, “I wonder what would happen if…?”
Higher order thinking. This level of interest can be stimulated by challenging children to create links in their own learning. Revisiting ideas over long blocks of time support children to see that the process of thinking and learning is full of experimentation and adaption. Our discussions with them are a method of finding out what they know before, during and after a block of structured experiences.
Depth of Learning. Depth of learning created through giving children time to explore their own thinking is the key to long term embedded knowledge.
Collaborative Learning. The educators become the role model for the process of thinking, listening, supporting, suggesting ideas, accepting challenge, being a writer, making diagrams and mind maps and whatever supports a child’s thinking and learning. It is a process that becomes a blend of child and educator weaving a framework of opportunities together.
Extracts from C Warden, Talking and Thinking Floorbooks 2006.
- Gain each child’s permission to write their ideas and thoughts.
- Be an active listener.
- Remember that what a child contributes is of value and therefore is not wrong, but can be nurtured to see another view.
- Begin your discussions with open questions; ‘I wonder…..’ remember to use Marion Blanks levels of questioning.
- Be prepared in mind but be open to all possibilities.
- Community Circles can occur naturally throughout the day.
- Time frames exist according to children’s engagement.
- Each leader is responsible to record circle data and complete daily evaluations in individual Community Circle Diaries.
When we use this approach we can;
- Respond to individual intelligences, through our play based experiences.
- Enable children to share their own perspectives of a subject that may not have featured in our thinking.
- Support the emotional development of the children through affirmation, by valuing what they think and offer to us.
- Understand the need that some children have for varying degrees of structure and order in their play, and the way that we can support them through resources, time, space and adult interaction.
- Use a methodology that responds to the learning styles, so that the play becomes more closely matched to the needs and desires of the children.
- Begin to understand the opportunities that will motivate children to challenge themselves through taking on board their ideas and consulting them in the process. (Claire Warden 2006)
Our Daily Journal is a record of community circle sessions and/or significant events that occur throughout the day.
The Journal can be used to chart group and individual interests, work samples and extracts from the children’s voices.
The Daily Journal is a unique record providing parents with varying perspectives from different angles of the room interactions.
From the information gathered Educators can prepare follow-up experiences for small groups and individuals.
The Journal will contain Reflections from educators, children and family members with clear links to the Learning Outcomes.
In essence the Journal will be a living document that will record children’s ideas and interests that have been explore by listening to their voices.
The journals will become a platform upon which Big Books will evolve and take shape. These books will provide the children with a record of their investigations with plenty of opportunities to revisit and extend their explorations on any particular topic
Digital Daily Slideshow
The Daily Digital Diary will provide families with a slide show that covers a variety of experiences that the children pursued throughout each day.
This is to be considered in conjunction with the Daily Journal and will endeavour to capture moments that may not be mentioned in the Daily Journal.
Documentation of your child’s preschool experience is collected in your child’s portfolio and will form the basis of each child’s individual program. A series of observations and accompanying assessment/analysis will be made each term. Each observation will be linked to one of the Early Years Learning Framework Outcomes. Parent/Guardians are invited to provide feedback.