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Learning Loops


Students describe a term, respond to a question, analyze a visual, or interact with text with a variety of partners.


  • Terms, questions, or visual cards for the inside-circle students


  1. Have half the class form a loop facing out and the other half form a loop around them facing in.
  2. Give inside-loop students a different question card, important word, interesting visual, or question about a text for their partner to answer, describe, or explain.
  3. Inside-loop partners present their cards, outside-loop partners respond, and inside-loop partners praise or prompt.
  4. At the teacher’s signal, the outside loop rotates one person to the left.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 for several rounds.
  6. Ask inside-loop partners to give outside-loop partners their question cards.
  7. Repeat the process for several rounds with the inside-loop rotating this time.
  8. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.

NOTE: Consider organizing students into several smaller learning loops to minimize the number of unique question cards, vocabulary words, or visuals needed. For example, organizing 3 separate learning loop groups with 4 students on the inside loop and 4 students on the outside loop (for a class of 24) would only require 8 unique question cards, vocabulary words, or visuals for each group.

Classroom Management

  • Supervise students moving desks to the perimeter of the room or consider doing the activity outside or in a larger space.
  • Have students write a justification for the correct answer on the back of their card and verify their responses with a peer or teacher.
  • Time Saver: Present each group with all the activity questions on a handout that the group cuts apart to create their own learning loop cards.
  • Remind students there will be no harm or humiliation for incorrect answers because correcting mistakes is a sign of intelligence!


  • Promote access by allowing students to partner with a supportive peer when initially answering their assigned question.
  • Provide response support by allowing students to dictate their correct response to a scribe and/or encouraging use of speech-to-text or word prediction support.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • What connection can you make from the terms, questions, or visuals?
    • Evaluate which question was most difficult and summarize what you learned.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.