Protocol Overview and Instructions:
The harkness method of discussion involves students sitting in an oval and having an open, honest, and authentic student-centered discussion. While this method appears easy on its surface, it can actually prove to be relatively challenging. From prolonged silences, to too much educator guidance, to discussions that do not provide much depth, without the proper setup and expectations, the harkness technique will not produce deeper student thinking. The teacher will need to provide guiding questions and make sure there is reflection at the end.
Harkness Circle Protocol Instructions
I tried the Harkness circle of discussion with my students as a way to get a pulse on how they were feeling about our project. It was important to gauge what speakers, activities, and information we learned was making the biggest impact. My students were able to keep this circle of conversation going without my guidance for over 25 minutes effectively, which says a lot.
“I realized how necessary it is for me to sit back and let the students guide the conversation. Letting them run the circle helped empower them to know that they were the valuable ones, not me.”
“ I really felt like we were the ones in charge of sharing, and we made sure that anyone who wanted to speak had their turn, no matter how long it took.”
Meet the Educator:
Amy is an educator at West Ottawa Public Schools. She teaches 4th grade at Lakewood Elementary.
"Integrating curriculum through PBL experiences has sparked a passion for authentic, real world problem solving in my students. My 4th graders are more actively engaged and enthusiastic about the learning process since I began using the Creative Sequence and Design Thinking protocols. They are gaining empathy for those around them and building employability skills along the way. It is thrilling to witness their excitement!"