Active Learning Ideas: The Fish-Bowl | On Effective Instruction

Active Learning Ideas: The Fish-Bowl

Fishbowl Discussions


Fish Bowl

A fish bowl allows a small group of students to engage in a discussion about ideas or concepts that have alternative explanations while the rest of the class observes and takes notes. It is a strategy used not only in classrooms but also in business meetings and other settings where group dynamics are important. This technique allows for a richer discussion of any given topic, and it frequently helps build community by focusing attention on the ways that particular group might work together more productively.


An inner circle of students engages in the discussion, while the rest of the class either sits in an outer circle, or remains in their regular seats and observes. If you have your class organized into small groups, then the members of each group can tap their respective teammate and replace them in the inner circle to expand on or provide additional evidence to support an explanation.


Optional: the entire class needs to take part in the inner circle conversation by the end of the class period.


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