Fishbowl Discussion Preparation

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SWBAT lead and self-regulate a discussion of key scenes in the novel based on a variety of new speech genres and formats by preparing for the discussion.

Big Idea

Preparing for a student-led discussion can actually be a lot of fun!

Class Discussion of Key Scenes

15 minutes

I am looking for some formative assessment, aside from the typical recall quiz, to see how the students are processing pages 66-129, which is the subject of the fishbowl discussions, a technique that I will explain in this lesson.  Typically, though, I want to take a day or so to prepare for and 1-2 days to execute the fishbowl discussion. 

Thus, before beginning, I ask the students to discuss as a whole class the following key questions from the chapters we will focus on in the fishbowl. The questions focus on character (RL.9-10.2) and thematic developments (RL.9-10.2), which is the focus of our fishbowl:

How well do Junior's new friends replace his old ones? How does he earn respect and grow deeper with these friendshps?

Why does Mary run away form the reservation?  To what extent is Junior implicated in her decision?  

What types of de facto racism exist at Reardan?  How does Alexie develop this theme, as well as empathy for Junior?

How does the theme of poverty continue to unfold?  As Junior commutes 22 miles to school?  At the homecoming dance?  With Junior's Halloween costume?


Again, the goal will be to let the students take the lead in identifying key moments in the text; I will try to match them and draw them deeper into the above character and thematic developments, and this will, hopefully, transition well into introducing the students to the five main fishbowl questions in the next section.

Choose Fishbowl Questions

15 minutes

I take preferences from students on which of the five questions on the attached sheet they will respond to.  The goal is to have four students respond to each question about a characters's decisions (RL.9-10.3), so that I set up a 2x2 debate, with two students answering "yes" and two answering "no" to the question asked.  The students are to prepare two quotations with explanations (RL.9-10.1) and one connection to life, but just for their chosen question.  

I will ask a student to take notes on the board while students select the question that they want to be the "fish" in the fishbowl (see the Explanation of fishbowl).  The students are to become expert at their selected question, and the rest of the class will respond by questioning them. 

Prepare for Fishbowl in Groups

15 minutes

Once students have had the opportunity to chose the question they would like to focus on for the fishbowl, they get together in groups of four based on their selected question.  They prepare each other for the fishbowl discussion by reading notes to each other and coming to a clear sense of what the controversies are (SL.9-10.1).  

The students should not be all that surprised that there are differences of opinion, but I hope that they will "respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives" (SL.9-10.1d). At the same time, I purposely do not give them enough time to completely script the fishbowl interaction because there should still be some room for discovery and debate whilst the fishbowl is proceeding.