Follow Up with Fishbowl on Close Reading of Superman and Me

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Objective

SWBAT use the annotated texts that they developed during close reading to tackle complex questions about author's style and narrative choices.

Big Idea

Reading --> Close Reading ---> Marking Text, Annotating, Thinking ---> Questioning, Reflecting, Relating, Analyzing

Preparing Questions for Discussion

20 minutes

There are lots of great resources for this essay online.  I have a wonderful book on my bookshelf called "50 Essays."  I used it as a text when I taught high school.  That book has some great questions, as do several of the sites that I encountered.  I used those questions to guide our discussion.

I asked the students to consider the following ideas and to make notes about them in their journals:  

1. Why did Alexie identify with Superman?  How does Superman smashing down walls become a metaphor for what Alexie did with his life? 

2. How does Alexie use repetition effectively?  What kinds of words does he repeat?  Why do you think he chose these?

3.  Consider Alexie's background.  What did he have going for him?  What obstacles did he face?  How does he share those with his audience? (Does he use anecdotes or literary devices?)

 4.  Choose a favorite part of the essay to discuss.

Modified "Fishbowl"

20 minutes

Fishbowl can be done a lot of different ways.  The way I generally do it is:

  • Two students sit in chairs in the middle of the room and discuss a question that they draw from a hat.  
  • A timer is set and the students must talk to each other about the topic until time runs out.
  • There is a "hot" seat in the center wherein kids can come into the fishbowl, add a comment or observation, and then go back to their seats.

I absolutely love fishbowl, and I think it is great practice for the kids.  However, it is really time consuming and, even though you can have other students observing and reflecting while the "fish" are in the bowl, it's a lot of downtime for the kids who are not in the center.

A way you can modify this is by running two to three smaller fishbowls at a time.  It gets a little noisy, but it is less stressful for the kids, they like it, and it is very efficient.  (Plus, you don't have to write a million questions.)

So, today, I had students break into three groups of approximately eight students.  They sat in small circles with two chairs at the center.  They rotated into the circle in three minute increments.  The "hot" seat function was accomplished by students just raising their hands to be acknowledged by the other "fish."

This activity is a great way for students to develop speaking and listening skills.  It is very hard for them to talk to each other, at first, instead of me.  However, they get used to it and can practice communication skills like paraphrasing and reflecting, which will help them in school (and in life.)

It worked really well!  I have some space constraints, so moving furniture is a little tricky.  This would be a great activity to do outside, if you had an appropriate space.