Fishbowl: A Classroom Discussion

Today the kids completed a fishbowl. We have been reading “The Wind and the Willows” and discussing several themes including the value of friendship and loyalty. This led to thinking about the character that best exemplified these qualities.

Students brainstormed evidence to support one character or another before beginning our first Fishbowl. In a Fishbowl, students sit in a circle with several students in the middle. Participants share ideas around a topic and if someone in the middle needs help or has run out of ideas, they will replace themselves with someone from the outside.

Using a “Fishbowl” to Enhance our Discussions

Today we engaged in a “fishbowl” to debate the pros and cons of having classroom pets. We used materials that presented both sides of the issue and students annotated and rehearsed making claims from either perspective.

We read through three articles over the week and today we employed the instructional strategy. Students in the fishbowl debated the issue and could sub themselves out for someone on the outside who wanted to make a point.

All of this work allowed the students to complete a piece of writing on the topic. And the writing? It is pretty fabulous.

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Structured Academic Controversy: Lunches

On Friday students completed a Structured Academic Controversy. It is a strategy that has students collecting evidence from multiple sources and using that evidence to create and support a claim. In this case students learned about how some school systems are banning lunches from home and requiring all students to eat school meals.

What is important about this strategy is that students did not learn until moments before the debate which side they would have to defend. Consequently, the preparation for the day had students attending to both sides of the issue.

Using the Discussion Strategy, Fishbowl

Today we used the discussion strategy “Fishbowl” to debate whether using bottled water was more positive or negative. The students read two articles (here) and annotated the pieces looking for evidence to support one position or the other. Then they discussed both articles free of any valued added statements; instead, attention was pointed to finding evidence.

The students positioned themselves around a fishbowl with four students in the middle. Students would share a point, debate the point, and if they couldn’t find evidence or didn’t have a good argument, they would tap someone from outside the fishbowl to take over for them.

The annotating, discussion and debate will help us with our writing in which students have to support a super claim.

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Structured Academic Controversy–Recycling

Today we concluded our Pro/Con readings on recycling and divided ourselves into partners for our Structured Academic Controversy. We started the work last week when students annotated articles on recycling and identified a “super claim.” This was followed by students sharing the evidence they found and then today we divided ourselves into partners and randomly were assigned a position in favor or against our super claim.