This week in American Literature, my 11th grade students took part in a fishbowl discussion. The discussion is so-named because all but four of the desks are situated in a circle around the room (the bowl). The remaining four desks are in the middle of the circle (the fish). In the discussion, students in the middle discuss and debate a variety of topics. Once they have exhausted their thoughts, the students on the outside have their chance to ask further questions, debate, and add input. For each topic, new students go into the fishbowl.
This particular fishbowl discussion included topics taken from the students’ most recently studied novel - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. With some Swedish Fish candy and Goldfish crackers for brain food, the students discussed some very in-depth topics. The most widely debated topic – whether or not Reverend Dimmesdale was authentically religious – had the students eager to provide their opinions, which were impressively backed up by details from the story. Overall, the discussion was a success. Every student participated and gained valuable discussion skills.
Students outside the fishbowl add their input to the discussion.