Teaching Tip: Fishbowl Reading Technique

Students must often master the concepts, ideas, and themes that are present in a novel. One of the best ways to teach students to do this is by using the "fishbowl" technique.
  • Begin by splitting your class into groups of 4-5. These students will work together to create a fishbowl.
  • Assign each group a separate theme from the novel. Do not overlap themes.
  • Have the students individually read the novel and flag every instance in which the theme is mentioned or alluded to. Students should do this on their own time. Allow a week for students to do this.
  • Schedule a class period in which each group can meet to share what they found.
  • The next day, each group will get 5-7 minutes to present. Arrange the classroom so there are 4 chairs in the middle, while every other chair is spread in a circle around them. You should sit in the circle as well.
  • Pose 3-4 questions about the theme and have the students discuss each. Be sure they cite evidence from the text.
The fishbowl technique provides for a collaborative project where each student can be graded individually. As they watch other groups, students will also learn more about the novel they are studying.
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