Fish Bowl Discussions

I got this idea from my high school health class and have used it ever since in the classes I teach. The fish bowl activity is for any class that you want to have a orderly discussion for most of the block. The way it works is that you have some students sit in a circle facing each other then you have the rest of the class sit out side them facing them listening. You then have a jar or a fish bowl and  you pick questions or topics from the fish bowl for the inner circle to discuss with each other. The outer group cannot say anything until it is their turn. Then the groups switch and the inner group moves to the outside of the circle to listen. This kind of discussion works especially well if you know you have groups that are already divided such as men vs. women or right vs. left. It is a way for these groups to have a private discussion without having to defend themselves and let the other side hear their thinking.

Print the questions or come up with y0ur own and cut them apart and put them in a fish bowl. Then you’re ready to have a vibrant class discussion!

Fish Bowl Steps Simplified

  1. Break the class in half. Some common divisions are by gender or age.
  2. Set up half of the chairs in a circle facing one another.
  3. Set a second circle of chairs around the center circle facing the center circle.
  4. The way the discussion works is that the people in the center most circle talk about the issue/topic while the outside listens and may not speak.
  5. Then allow the inner and outer circles to change places.
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