Saturday, January 19, 2008

The world is a fishbowl...come on in!

Karl Fisch sent me an invitation to 'live blog' with students at Arapahoe High School as they discuss Dan Pink's book, A Whole New Mind.

In his email he described:
"We will be using a discussion technique in class called Fishbowl with Live Blogging. Fishbowl is a discussion method similar to Socratic seminar where students participate in either an inner or outer circle. Inner circle participants are in charge of leading the discussion of AWNM, actively facilitating a discussion using critical analysis, asking in-depth questions, redirecting responses, discussing the assigned text, etc. Traditionally the outer circle listened to the inner circle discussion, took notes and turned them in to the teacher. Now we are having the outer circle participants live blog their thoughts and questions. The inner and outer circle's conversations sometimes intersect and sometimes diverge, but are always amazingly rich."

I was a little unsure about this but hopped on board last night (morning for Arapahoe) and joined Dean Shareski, Darren Draper, Karl, and a class of Grade 9 students with teacher Anne Smith as they discussed Chapter 4: Design.

A class blog post had been set up and as we listened to the live conversation by the 'inner circle' the outer circle (educators and outer students) posted comments to this post. We used an online tool called MeBeam with success to webcam the educators and the physical classroom together.
Here is an image of participants using MeBeam with the blog comment window open as well.

Here is the blog post where you can read over 200 comments made during the session. A wiki sets out the schedule for the remainder of the live blogging sessions up until February 22.

I was most impressed with the students and the fishbowl method. This is another exciting venture into fostering a global perception and lowering the walls of the classroom. Students and teachers interacted and conversed via the blog while the inner circle also could see our comments as they drew some of these into their conversation, which we heard through the audio facility of MeBeam

I must tell you a little secret, I thought Karl was the founder of the fishbowl know fisch, fischbowl etc....luckily my spouse who is very familiar with this method of discussion due to the many Philosophy for Children classes he has organised, set me straight. After a little research I now understand and fully believe the traditional fishbowl method is being enhanced by the use online technology tools, such as a blog. These comments from a student at Arapahoe at a completely different session last year reinforce the power this method/technology has to promote structured thinking and independent responses during discussion.

Also, read Anne Smith's blog about the development of the fishbowl method in her classes. Fishbowl 101 describes the emerging structures that encourage students to think at a higher level and to be systematic in their approach to discussion and interaction. In Anne's words:
"I decided that students would need to know how to ask good questions (higher level thinking questions), how to facilitate a conversation while still being able to get their point across, how to manage the classroom, how to look for criticism and understand the criticism they found, as well as actually understand what they read.
After much refinement, discussion, trial and error, and more trial and error as well as feedback from that first group of seniors ( the feedback is essential every year to tweak it to what best benefits the students), the fishbowl emerged."

Congratulations to Karl and Anne and the other educators and students at Arapahoe for their initiatives. I really enjoyed being a part of the session and it has given me lots of ideas to try something like this myself.

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Karl Fisch said...

Julie - Thank you so much for participating in our discussion. We - and our students - really appreciate it. While we still have lots to learn about the best way to utilize this technique with the extensions made possible by the tech tools, I think we've made a pretty good start.

No, while I wish I could take credit for the fishbowl discussion technique, I had nothing to do with the creation of that - although perhaps I could get an asterisk for helping extend it with the live blogging. :-)

While I certainly have worked hard and contributed to this project, Anne Smith and Maura Moritz (the other Language Arts teacher doing this with her classes) deserve the credit. They not only have worked hard on the setup of all of this, but are helping the students explore the ideas in AWNM each day in class. They're truly exceptional teachers.

annes said...

Julie- just a quick note to thank you for taking the time to participate in this wonderful educational opportunity for our students. We all appreciate your thoughtful, thoughtprovoking questions as well as your encouragement of our students to become critical thinkers and involved in school decisions. On a side note, we Google Earth-ed you to find out exactly where you were located in Qatar. As Will R. says, thanks for making yourself "clickable" and accesible to our students here.

stefo said...

I was one of the students who participated in one of the Live Blogging sessions. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Having you and the others who participated in the discussion brought new perspective. You brought in a more worldly understanding that adds more depth to the conversations. Thank you again. I will never forget all the experiences I have had while reading A Whole New Mind.

amandah said...

Thank you for taking time out of your day to blog with our class, It means a lot. Thank you!

maddief said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to blog with our class. You asked us some really thought provoking questions.

meganu said...

Julie- I was also one of the students Live Blogged with you. I just wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I greatly appreciate the point of view you brought to the class. I will never forget this experience.

KatherineM said...

I'm a student that participated in the liveblogging last Friday. I really enjoyed being able to hear your thoughts on design. Thanks for taking the time to blog with us!

chelseas said...

Mrs. Lindsay thank you so much for blogging with us. We all appreciate your time. You brought up some really good points that added to the discussion. We enjoyed talking with you, and thanks for your time!!

Unknown said...

Hi, I am one of the students that participated in the fishbowl at Arapahoe High School in Mrs. Smith's second period class. I just want to thank you for the time that you spent blogging with my class. Also, thank you for listening in on the conversation that was occuring in the inner circle. Once again, thanks a ton! ~Liz

Anonymous said...

Julie Lindsay,
Thank you very much for taking the time to blog with us. You had some great things to say, that helped to enhance our discussion over AWNM. I am glad that you were able to communicate with us even though you were so far away. This was an amazing experience, and I hope that you can join in on our converstaions again sometime.

amyw said...

Mrs. Lindsay, thank you very much for blogging with us. Although I was in the inner circle, I also looked at the blog and you had many terrific ideas that brought a great viewpoint to the discussion!