Page by: Katelyn Connolly Petteruti
What is Fishbowl?
Fishbowl is an activity that you can do during read. If you chunk your reading then you can run this activity to informally assess if the students are understanding the material.

Why use Fishbowl?

Fishbowl would be useful if you are looking for an activity to encourage peer learning. This activity helps low readers follow along with the concepts in the reading material, and it facilitates creative thinking and making connections with the reading material.

How to use Fishbowl

"Impromptu or scheduled, two to four students sit in middle of circle and talk about a text. The class makes observations about the conversation then rotate into the circle." You could also ask each student to write down a question or an observation about the selected reading. You could then use the student questions and observations as well as your own prompts to facilitate the conversation.


Reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, By Frederick Douglass
This text is dense and rich in meaning. There are several moments in it where we would need to stop and discuss the implications of what was being said. The students would read a selection quietly or aloud.

"There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being, and were all subjected to the same narrow examination. Silvery-headed age and sprightly youth, maids and matrons, had to undergo the same indelicate inspection. At this moment, I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both slave and slaveholder."

The students would then be asked to write a question on an index card. The questions would be given to the teacher. The teacher would mix student questions in with the list of questions below.
Potential Questions:
What does it mean to say that animals and dark skinned people held the "same rank in scale of being"?
What was the purpose of the narrow examination?
How is respect shown or not shown in the buying process?
How might this scene effect the slaves being sold?
How might this scene effect those watching the auction?
Why would the brutalizing effects of slavery effect slaves and slaveholders?

The students would make a circle with three students in the center. The teacher will pose questions to the students in the circle as the students rotate in and out of the circle per the directions of the teacher.