Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Fishbowl Failure

I have 3 sections of English I. 2 of those classes are small and manageable enough that I have all those grandiose ideas and activities. I love that planning high, where you're not imagining the thousands of things that can and will go wrong, but rather the beautiful way a student will come up to you and say, "Ms. Turley, thank you for today. I really learned something."


Friday was not that day for me. I planned a Fishbowl Discussion with a bunch a freshmen. What was I thinking?!

I set up the room so that my smaller classes could have one discussion with the class split in half - one watching, one discussing. I allowed them to use any resources they needed for the topic (we just finished reading The Odyssey and the kids knew they were going to get one of three different topics).

Here were the topics I used:
  • How did Homer portray the gods in The Odyssey? What role did the gods play in human life?
  • Choose a hero from popular culture. How does the director/writer make you feel about that hero and his/her opponents? Compare and Contrast that hero to those in The Odyssey?
My first and second hours went great! A clear leader shined in each group and everyone participated, even if it wasn't always on task participation. The outer circle "graded" the inner based on "Respect for Others," "Comprehension," and "Willingness to Participate." It was a win-win-win-win. The students practiced with rubrics, discussion skills, listening skills, comprehension check, and except for a few changes, they handled the grading for me!

...And that's where I got my confidence up.

My 6th hour is by far my largest class - and the loudest. It's the end of the day, they're squirrelly, and it's just an interesting mix of personalities. I set up 2 different groups because one large one was going to be impossible, so there were a total of 4 circles... and it was awful all around.

One group didn't speak at all. One wouldn't get on topic if it meant to save their mothers from fire. One got upset because they wanted to talk longer. And the other - well - they tried. Really, they did.

I'm now in the reflection stage of planning. What can I do better next year?! I know that this isn't nearly enough information, but if any of you have suggestions, I definitely want to hear them!

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