The folks at Responsive Classroom have tossed classroom teachers another home run hit with the release of Dana Januszka and Kristen Vincent’s Closing Circles: 50 Activities for Ending the Day in a Positive Way. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a rookie to Responsive Classroom, this spiral-bound gem will teach you right off the bat about the intent and purpose for holding a closing circle.
The book is structured to help readers effectively understand the philosophy for closing circles and how it builds on the basic human needs for belonging, significance and fun. Closing circles:
…allow children to celebrate accomplishments.
… give children a chance to reflect on learning.
…help children gain a sense of belonging.
While on deck, teachers can learn how to model different elements of a closing circle and identify activities organized by grade. The authors raise reflective questions for teachers to consider in planning and adapting their ideas to suit the needs and strengths of each class on any given day. This essential step helps bring closure to the teacher(s) as well as children. Finally, to help teachers hit one out of the ball park, the authors provide 7 ways to help carve out the 5-10 minutes from a busy school day needed to devote to a closing circle.
While the activities and tips suggested in this book are rooted in an understanding of the Responsive Classroom approach, the straightforward and clearly articulated explanations and activities make it possible for newbies to hit it out of the ball park and assimilate this practice into their day. With this teaching practice, the end of the day is a whole new ball games as it allows everyone to finish the school day with a positive, productive and up-beat gathering!