Students are seated in a circle facing each other. The instructor then models the activity by stepping into the middle of the circle and saying something that has challenged them in their life. The instructor asks the students who can identify with the statement to switch chairs with another person in the circle, taking a seat themselves. Students should be given the following ground rules: they cannot move to the space directly next to theirs, they must be careful and respectful of other students, and the statement must be something they personally identify with. When everyone has returned to a space in the circle one student should be left in the middle. The student in the middle then has the opportunity to make a statement themselves. The game continues until every person has made a statement in the middle of the circle. After the activity students should have an opportunity to debrief. Statements may be thematic, such as school struggles.
What is the Objective?
To encourage students to recognize the commonalities and differences between themselves and their classroom community members.
ULLG: Cultural understanding and effective communication
CCSS: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Why is This Important?
Struggles are a unifying factor of the human experience. Every student faces struggles, many of which they bring with them into daily life in the classroom. By allowing students to face their struggles inside of the classroom it humanizes them to their peers and instructors and encourages them to bring their outside personas into the classroom experience.
This activity is a part of the Diversity in the Making workshop as part of the Beyond Insights workshop series. This workshop seeks to offer all students participating a chance to understand the uniqueness of their own and others’ Diversity. Students engage in an assortment of creative, collaborative projects, ranging across a variety of media to surface their commonly shared struggles, languages and cultural assets.
The workshop’s guiding question is:
How do we come to create together a classroom and a school climate where all of us matter and are valued equally?
This activity was created and run as a part of the Beyond Insights workshop series. The series, done in partnership with the Creative Exploratory at Michigan State University, brings 100 Lansing 6th graders to MSU’s campus one day a week for five weeks to encourage students to explore creativity, innovation, arts, and culture. The experience also encourages students to interact with the local university community and consider college as an option after high school. Students work with MSU Faculty, Creative Exploratory Fellows, the MSU Writing Center, and the MSU Center for Language Teaching Advancement in order to build a holistic understanding of creativity through design and communication, storytelling in writing and video, culture and identity, and digital media. All of the activities were created and run by preservice teachers and MSU faculty with the input of the students’ classroom teachers. More information about the workshop can be found at the link below.