On Friday Honors English 2 students held a fishbowl discussion over The Great Gatsby. Students were given 8 Final Discussion Questions at the end of class Thursday to go home and respond/freewrite to in preparation for the following day’s discussion. When students came into class they were greeted by 10 desks in a small circle in the center of the room with the remainder of the desks in a larger circle around. Students who were in the center circle were the first discussion leaders while the students on the outside took notes on interesting comments/thoughts that this group discussed, or they noted new ideas of their own branching off of a comment that was made by someone in the inner circle.
Students in the inner circle had to speak at least three times (I was keeping track on a sheet). They could not speak more than six times because we wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to share.
The outer circle students had to make comments/notes via Padlet at least three times as well, but I found that most students commented at least twice per question for a total of 8 comments.
Once the inner circle discussed the first four questions, students swapped roles. The outer circle came in to discuss while the inner moved to the outside to listen, reflect, and respond.
Teacher-led Discussions (this is not a posed picture–students were oblivious to my camera):
Inner Circle Looking For Textual Evidence
Discussion Notes and Comments/Questions from Outside Circle:
Outside Circle Comments
More Padlet-Outside Circle
What scenario looks more engaging? Easy, right?
What I saw in my classroom was great. Instead of having the same students dominate discussions (no matter how hard I try to call on everyone, it never fails that there are still some students who just can’t be shut down), with the Fishbowl discussion I had everyone speaking and focused. It can be very difficult for students to pay attention during a 90 minute block, but this activity helped greatly, and as a class we were able to project the Padlet screen and see what other students were saying outside of the inner circle which then brought new ideas and further discussion. I most definitely plan on doing this again; basically, this is what I call The Shared Inquiry Method (who remembers doing that training back in the day?). Now, if I had this when I taught Freshman Honors when we did a Shared Inquiry story four times a semester, this would have made life so much easier! It used to be so challenging to keep track of students speaking, and I hated looking over the recordings of others–Padlet made this a piece of cake today! -Angela