Fishbowl Discussions Using Padlet

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.

The Rules:

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):

Student-led Discussions:

Inner Circle Looking For Textual Evidence

Inner Circle Looking For Textual Evidence

Student Discussion

Student Discussion

Discussion Notes and Comments/Questions from Outside Circle:  

Outside Circle Comments

Outside Circle Comments

More Padlet-Outside Circle

More Padlet-Outside Circle

What scenario looks more engaging?  Easy, right?  

The Results:  

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


5 thoughts on “Fishbowl Discussions Using Padlet

  1. Mike Lawler

    What a great opportunity for students to be responsible for their own learning. The description was great and the pictures really told the whole story. I can see why you would try this again.


  2. alissahansen

    I agree Mr. Lawler!!! I am going to try this out with my Honors English students as we are currently reading Great Expectations. It’s hard to get everyone to really contribute to a class discussion, and if the goal is to be truly collaborative, this looks like a great resource! I was just talking to these students about how I am always hearing from a handful of them when I know they have much more to bring to the discussion. I really try to get the entire class’ input, but this has proven to be difficult. When I call on students because those same few are the only ones that are continuously responding, sometimes those students are resistant to offer much more than the bare minimum when I know they have much more insight to enlighten us with (namely because I see this in their written responses). I am hoping that a tool like this could help with this dilemma. I am thrilled to try this out and I will keep you posted on the results. I tried something similar with Edmodo before, but you have to scroll down and search for the responses as they come in, so it is not as easy to navigate as Padlet it seems.


  3. infowhiz

    I was quite taken with this application. When I looked it up, I was amazed to find it seems like a great tool to have for a back wall chat. And when I checked to see what it cost, that was the best.


  4. Angela Staber

    I plan on posting a few of my student-created videos. I did require them to write a couple sentences about each picture they used. Additionally, they wrote a paragraph describing their creative approach to their video and what their ultimate goal was that they wanted to achieve. They then used this paragraph to introduce their movie to the class.


  5. alissahansen

    I have been using Padlet with my Honors English students since Angela posted this. Thank you again for doing that. This has been such a wonderful resource for class and the students love it and are incredibly eager to share their opinions…even those more quiet students! And wow have students been proving to me, and to their peers, that they are some seriously critical thinkers!

    This is how I use Padlet.

    I add discussion questions for each chapter (usually two per chapter) to Google Classroom and every time we are ready to discuss the newly-assigned reading (currently we are reading Great Expectations), the start of class will focus on journaling the response to those discussion questions. I will split the class in half and half the class will take one set of questions (they will be the 1s), while the other half takes the other set of questions (they will be the 2s). I give students about 5 minutes per question to hand write their responses (they hand write their responses because those are the responses they will use as fodder for discussion and they will not have the distraction of a Chromebook to get in their way).

    Here are the directions I gave to students:
    1s will be on the inside circle discussing answers to questions 1 and 2 (NOTE: Everyone NEEDS to speak AT LEAST ONCE, but NO MORE THAN THREE times, while the 2s are on the outer circle). Once everyone has spoken on the inner circle, the outer circle will move to the inner circle and the outer circle will move to the inner circle to discuss questions 3 and 4.

    INNER CIRCLE: The goal of the inner circle is to discuss the questions and use textual evidence in the process. EVERYONE NEEDS to speak at least ONCE, but no more than THREE times.

    OUTER CIRCLE: The goal of the outer circle is to take notes/comment/respond to the discussion of the inner circle using Padlet! Everyone in the outer circle needs to comment ONCE, but no more than TWICE.
    * I have the padlet from the outer circle open on the whiteboard as students discuss/type responses.

    I tried to put a limit on these things so no one would get left out or monopolize the discussion. So far things have been going brilliantly. After a week of using this, I asked students for input and overwhelming they responded that they enjoyed it because they were able to hear from everyone and some felt like they finally had a chance to discuss the material and do so more in-depth.

    My only qualm was that sometimes a padlet can get full very quickly and it is hard to go through every comment that way. I have learned to limit the padlet to one question and allow only one response each from the outer circle. This way it is easier for the inner circle to respond to what is on the screen.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s