I am such a fan of our closing circle time. In my opinion, it is a good bookend to our morning pages time. I introduce closing circle and morning pages at the start of the school year. For our closing circle time, my students and I meet and sit in a circle on the carpet area with our notebooks. To end our writing session, we share a part of our writing that we have done that day.
When I first introduce sharing in our closing circle, I start with having the students share one sentence from their work. I do not call on the students, but after I have explained what we will be doing, students are encouraged to jump in when they are ready to share. I will start the ball rolling (the first couple of times), and then wait for the next person. Now, I will warn you, if you intend to try this, that in the beginning there will be long gaps of silence while you are waiting for someone to start sharing. Do not be alarmed, there is always at least a couple of students who will confidently share, but others will be a little bit shy and hesitant. Students will also look at you, the teacher, waiting for you to prompt them, do not. Your goal is for students to take the lead in their sharing! I avoid making eye contact until students are sharing their work. Slowly, students will gather their courage and share. Not everyone will share and that is okay. Keep going! After a reasonable length of time end the lesson, and try again the next day.
Once a student has shared, the group responds with snapping their fingers. I suggested snapping four times to my 5th grade students once I realized there was a tendency for some to keep snapping when the others had stopped! No other comment is made. We simple show our appreciation to the writer by snapping our fingers, and then give others the opportunity to share.
The more you do a closing circle and students get comfortable with sharing, you will have more participants. I do pay attention to who does not share on a consistent basis and will during a writing conference encourage them to share. I will give them some suggestions if that will help them.
The three things I like about our closing circle are:
- The quiet and shy voices find it easier to share one sentence.
- Students lead how the sharing will flow.
- More voices are heard when sharing one sentence.
For me, a closing circle is not a time to assess how my students are developing their writing skills, but a time for them to have an audience listen to something they have written (no matter how short) and for them to hear other student writers. Sharing one line is far less intimidating than sharing a long piece of writing! There is a place for sharing longer writing and those times can be created at a different time.
I have seen the quietest student pluck up courage and share their sentence, I have seen ELL students with limited English share their sentence, and I have seen a challenging student focus once he knew he would have an opportunity to share a sentence. A closing circle is worth trying if it helps to build the confidence of each writer.