K-Grade 3 Resources » Talking Circle Lessons

Talking Circle Lessons

Lesson Description:

It is our hope that these lessons will help with classroom communication and can be used in a number of different subject areas. These lessons can focus on oral language Learning Outcomes or can be used in conjunction with any other subject areas.
There is also a PowerPoint presentation available to explain some traditional uses of talking sticks and circles. 
Grade: K-6 (Please note that there are more primary focused, and more intermediate focused lessons on Talking Sticks and Talking Circles. 
Lesson Plans developed by Melissa Litke, Suzanne Camp, and Lynn Swift

How to get started: ​

We make sure to mention that this is one general way that is attributed to some indigenous people.
There are so many ways to incorporate Talking Circles into your lessons!  
To start, we often begin with asking students, What is important about communication in a classroom and in a community? Students list all the norms they have in the class i.e listening to the speaker, taking turns, participating in a discussion.  Then we share the story, Talking Circle on page 31 in the following book, The Sharing Circle,  for ideas on how a talking circle begins and works.  We make sure to mention that this is one general way that is attributed to some Aboriginal people.  The method we use in schools is a combination or blend of the basic principles of different ideas from various Aboriginal groups. The idea is that everyone is heard and has a chance to share - a fair communication system. It is not the only way. 
We then co-construct some criteria together about what a talking circle entails and practiced a simple circle, asking and modeling students to say their name, their relatives and ancestors names,  and something about themselves. The students then completed a response sheet. See examples below.

Learning Intentions:

  • I can be a good listener and help to create a positive community in my classroom. 
  • I can understand how talking circles and a talking stick were traditionally used and why they can be helpful. 
  • I can speak from the heart and be truthful and caring toward others. 

Lesson Series: 

Lessons can be done is a series or as stand-alone to help build Community in the Classroom and Improve Oral Language Skills​
  • Co-constructing Criteria for purpose and practicing a talking circle:​​
Co-constructing Criteria                                   
Response Sheets
response sheet 1          response sheet 2
 Little Bears Vision Quest - How to be a good friend:
 Sharing Our World - Identifying our Gifts
More Intermediate oriented:
Lesson 1 and 2
Talking Stick and Talking Circle 

Talking Circles Explanation

Circles are a traditional First Nations format for discussion and decision making. There are different types of discussion circles, such as Talking Circle, Sharing Circles, or Healing Circles, and the protocols for usage depend on the purpose. The term Talking Circle is sometimes used interchangeably with Sharing Circle. Definitions of these terms may differ depending on the context of the user.
It is important to understand that the type of discussion circles generally used in classrooms are not intended to be used for any therapeutic purpose. Classroom-based Talking or Sharing Circles are not Healing Circles (the latter needing to be facilitated by skilled leaders in specific contexts, and in First Nations contexts, often include additional cultural protocols).

Talking Circles in classrooms are usually used to demonstrate that everyone is connected and that every person in the circle has an equal voice. They also ensure that everyone can see and hear the speaker. Read the rest of the article below for a good description of talking circles in classrooms. Also see more on the following website: First Nations Pedagogy Online
Excerpt from page 19-20 of the FNESC/FNSA: BC First Nation Land, Title, and Governance Teacher Resource Guide, 2019 http://www.fnesc.ca/governance/

More Background Information...