How to Implement the Town Hall Circle Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom
This teaching method mimics the process of a town hall meeting, where community members take the floor to share their perspective on a topic of concern. Utilizing this format, learners have the opportunity to share their different views by tapping into and out of the group conversation. Learners often come away from this experience with a greater appreciation for how our viewpoint can limit the facts we have at our disposal and the opinions we hold. By listening to others’ ideas, learners broaden their comprehension of the world in which they live.
- Select Readings: Choose four to six readings on the same subject that embody different perspectives.
- Learners Read in Groups: Divide the class into four to six groups (depending on the number of readings) and assign each group one of the readings. Allow learners to read. Some groups may prefer to read the content aloud after each learner has also had a chance to read the content silently. Then have learners discuss the reading among themselves, answering questions such as: What is this reading about? What are the main ideas and facts? Why are these ideas applicable or essential? From whose perspective is this content written? How may that influence the views expressed in the content? Learners appoint one person in their group to summarize their reading to the class.
- Town Hall Discussion Part 1: Summaries. Organize chairs in a circle, providing one chair to each group. The learner assigned to summarize for each group sits in the chair. The other learners form a standing circle around the chairs. Make it clear that each learner in the class will have an opportunity to be heard. Learners can only speak when they have entered the circle and are seated. Then, each spokesperson summarizes the reading assigned to the group. No analysis or interpretation must be done after this.
- Town Hall Discussion Part 2: Conversations and Comments
Once the reading has been summarized, encourage learners seated in the circle to comment on what they have heard or to ask one of their peers a question. Learners in the outer ring are then allowed to enter the conversation by “tapping” the muster of someone in their group and taking their seats.
- Debrief: After the discussion, allow learners to reflect on the following questions in their journals or through a class discussion: What did you learn from this learning experience? Did your feelings about the subject evolve following this learning activity? What does “perspective” mean? Where does a person’s perspective come from? How does our perspective shape the way we see the world? Draw on particular examples from this learning activity when answering these questions.