Small Fires


Facilitating Dialogue

Additional Purpose(s):

Solution Finding, Generating and Sharing Ideas


The structure of this process supports small group sharing and equal opportunity for voice.


  1. In groups of four, learners place their chairs facing inward to form a square with chairs at north, east, south and west positions.  
  2. Provide a guiding question or prompt as the focus for discussion. 
  3. Sitting knee to knee, the person in the north position begins sharing for a set amount of time.  
  4. Each speaker shares without interruption in a clockwise order.  
  5. After every person is done sharing, group members can engage in cross talk, including questions, answers, and comments.  
  6. Small fires groups can discuss one prompt or a series of prompts in separate rounds.  


  • Chairs


Name the direction of the person to start (e.g., the person whose back is facing north) so you are able to see each group’s progress with sharing at a glance.

Provide a guideline for how long groups will have to share their thinking about the prompt in their small fire (e.g., 10 min). This time will serve as a guide for individual sharing (e.g. 2 minutes per person and then 2 min for cross-talk).


Also referred to as circle talk