Publish, Circle, Refine

If you haven’t yet come across Eric Frangenheim’s book Reflections on classroom thinking strategies then grab yourself a copy and dig in. It’s a wonderful book and full of some useful and practical ideas that are easy to put into action.

One strategy that he describes is called 1: 4: Publish: Circle: Refine or 14PCR and is a very dynamic way of uniting pupils in a collaborative task which demands plenty of creative thinking and reflection.

Eric describes an example whereby pupils have the job of writing a mission statement on thinking for their school. You could use any theme or concept, e.g. Brexit!

The process goes like this:

  1. Get into a group of four
  2. Each pupil writes their own mission statement
  3. Pupils then share their statements with the group and collectively they pool their ideas and write a collaborative effort, a “synthesised statement”.
  4. The group statement is written onto some poster paper and then posted on a wall in the classroom (Publish).
  5. One member of the group stays with the published paper and acts as a defender of the statement. Their job is to explain the statement and defend it.
  6. The other members of the group now visit the other published papers around the room created by other groups.
  7. Groups read the statements of other groups, make notes and possibly ask questions of the ‘defenders’ (Circle).
  8. Everyone then returns to their desks and looks at the notes made and observations they made in relation to the statements of other groups. They decide how they can improve upon their own collective statement (Refine)
  9. Groups share their refined and polished statements with the rest of the class.

Fragenheim tells us that he has used this strategy with a range of learners from schools to governments departments and private industry and says,

They have been particularly impressed with this strategy as a means of encouraging learners to focus, clarify, listen, adapt, refine and use the power of synergy to produce a clear and effective result.

It works as a strategy because pupils have to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in, work together and focus on consensus, find some common ground and compete with others to produce a stand out statement. There is plenty of creative and critical thinking, editing and drafting involved that is demanding and challenging. It pushes children to share their thinking, discuss, argue and RIP (refine, improve and polish).

14PCR also encourages a sense of ownership and pride in their work and makes children realise that idea formation is messy and that reaching a consensus involves compromise and co-creation.

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