Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Thoughts on The Fishbowl Technique

This is the post for you to comment on regarding The Fishbowl technique. Remember, you have three choices:
  1. Observe another teacher using the fishbowl technique and comment.
  2. Use the fishbowl technique in one of your classes and comment.
  3. If you don't have time or opportunity to do #1 or #2, simply give us your thoughts on the discussion and sample fishbowl we did in class today.

Please do this by March 1st.


  1. I think that the fishbowl was a great way to discuss topics. I remember talking about this in my aducation classes, but the demonstation and adjustments that Anne showed was very enlightening. I would just need to find a way to use this in a math class.

  2. I think that the fishbowl technique is a great way to get every kid involved (in way or another) in an organized class discussion. It gives boundaries to students who like to talk all the time, and challenges the quiet ones to be engaged. It was also neat to hear from the students. Maybe we could do that more often as we discuss different strategies and teaching techniques.

    I'm challenged by when and how I can incorporate it into biology. Debateable topics like evolution and gene therapy would work well, but that's only two for the first semester. Anne does it enough times so that every group of students is in the middle. It would be tough for me to do it that many times. But I guess with our classes not changing at semesters anymore, I'd have the option to push it into second semester as well...

    I also thought about how Anne said she did it because she was sick of teaching class to herself and trying to get the kids involved. So, she uses the fishbowl to teach her curriculum. The topics that would work well in biology are sort of extensions of the curriculum, so I'd have to think about how to make it work with the time we have alloted per unit. I'd like to talk to the "pros" about doing something shorter, less formal, but hopefully just as effective. That might be an option for my class.

  3. I was able to watch two versions of a fishbowl, one in Escue's honors junior class and one in McBride's junior class. After Anne's kids did their discussion, one of them had said that he thought my class ran like a fishbowl even though it wasn't a formal one. However, what I saw in both of my observations was that kids who rarely, if ever, spoke in my "fishbowl" jumped into the conversations. If I were a student, it seems that the key to a good fishbowl is a good topic. For McBride's kids, that was a satire about eating poor children (Modest Proposal) which seemed to generate buy in. For Escue's, the buy in came from the questions that he posed, all allowing for a great discussion of philosophy. As always, some had "less valuable" comments, but for some of those students, they were stretching their own mind, even though the comments didn't stretch the class. In 21C meetings, we have often heard that "it works well for honors (or upperclassmen), but I don't know about..." The more I watch, the more valuable I thnk I find it for all of my classes.

  4. The fishbowl concept looks like a great idea. It appears that students get a chance to participate in more in-depth discussions than might occur otherwise without nearly as much involvement on the teacher's part. At the same time, I don't feel in any hurry to adopt it for my classes right now. Part of this is my feeling that students simply don't need this in ALL of their classes, plus I do have several activities that encourage in-depth discussions. Still, as I go through this semester, I will look for any possible opportunities to do a fishbowl activity in the future.