Monday, December 11, 2006

This Isn't Your Ordinary Act Four Question

Instead of having the act 4 group create another blog question, I thought we could continue the conversation started by Mrs. Howell regarding how your education is different. What changes have you seen? How does the fishbowl or constructivist methodologies work for you? What benefits have ou experienced.

Additionally, since Mrs. Howell is a school board member, part of her job is to show the community that what we are doing (constructivist, fishbowl, technology) is beneficial to you as well as show how it has helped and changed your learning. How could you explain this to the community of Centennial?


Blogger MarinaB said...

For me, learning and comprehending literature, like Shakespeare, is difficult and challenging when the teacher just lectures and tells me what I am required to know. When we fishbowl I get to hear my classmates “talk in teenage language”. I know that sounds silly but when I see and hear me friends or classmates describe their thoughts of the events in the book we are reading I understand it so much better because they are talking in a way that I can relate too. I also love the fact that we have the laptops for our type of “fishbowling” for two reasons. One it is nice to have an outer discussion because no one would be able to get his or her points across if we were in such a large discussion environment. Two, it is a way for others to comment on the inner circle discussion with out interrupting the flow of the leaders and discussers, but they still get to comment and voice their opinions.

This type of learning has benefited me further than I had ever thought possible. It has shown me so many different points of views on such wide topics that not even our teacher had thought of. It is the fact that our teacher is allowing us to step out side of our comfort zone and possibly fail in explaining something that is very wrong, rather than the right information being drilled into our brains, and then tested on it. I have learned so many more things by failing, instead of being told what is right and wrong interpretations. I wish I had started with this learning freshmen year and doing just the basics then building on it and making it more and more technical and educational as we progressed in our high school education. I feel that I have learned my basics my senior year, only because we were basically the guinea pigs, however, I believe I have learned what I can, with what we were given, so I don’t enter college knowing nothing of this type of learning.

December 11, 2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger melissa b said...

Fishbowl helped me by being able to comprehend the book we are reading and any book. Now when I read a book I have discussions with my family about or even discussions with myself. I talk about it so I can understand it better and form questions. I have seen that I am a better reader and I have been always outgoing but being challenged to step out of our "comfort zone" was difficult at first. I did not want to say things that would sound dumb and I didn't want to say my opionion. But after experiencing fishbowl took the challenge and stepped out of my comfort zone, I enjoy talking in calss more.

The lap tops I think are a great addition because in our fixshbowl disscussions being able to live blog, makes the outer circle participate if they do not get a chance to step in the inner circle. It also ables the outer circle to have their own discussion between themselves. The laptops also inable us to take notes, write papers, edit each other's papers, and do inclass research.

December 11, 2006 9:54 PM  
Blogger levik said...

As I have gone through school there has been a gradual increase with technology and education. As it relates to understanding literature, I think that using an interactive fishbowl like we have used for Hamlet really helps. Not only do we get to listen to an in depth conversation, but can also have an outer discussion with the computers that hasn't been available before. If we want to jump into the inner conversation, we are able to that as well. By providing alternate and numerous ways to communicate ideas, education has come to another level. Usually teachers voice their opinion on a piece of literature or a subject and that is all the student gets. With a fishbowl and live blogging, thoughts, ideas, symbolism, and active communication are not just said, but captured in writing and can be looked at and analyzed further.
Also, the information and understanding that a student usually gets out of a class is the ideas of the teacher or ideas that the teacher has learned and is simply passing these ideas on. The way we have learned Hamlet is only the fresh, new ideas thought up by the students. This way teaching a subject is never repetitive and new ideas are and interpretations come about each year.
Overall I think that the increase in the use of technology and fishbowls has enhanced my learning. These methods are not the traditional ones used in the classroom and provide some variety and excitement to the high school experience.

December 12, 2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger David L said...

Throughout this semester, especially with Hamlet, I feel my education and understanding have been enhanced tremendously by the fishbowl experience. The first time we did the fishbowl (I think for our Oedipus test?) I really didn't like how it worked. With the entire class trying to get enough comments in one hour to get all our points, I thought it was really frustrating and often difficult to get your point across. Even so, the live blogging with this fishbowl helped solve this problem because it gave another way for us to get our statements across. I think the way we are doing fishbowl now on Hamlet is one of the best ways I have ever encountered to learn literature. I have been in several classes where a teacher asks questions and has to answer them herself because no one in the class is willing to put themselves out there and make a guess, or the teacher simply gives the class the notes they need to know for the test. With the fishbowl, each of us has to contribute to the conversation either verbally or online in orer to get our points. It has taught me to think more deeply about literature, to weigh the opinions and ideas of others, and to articulate my own point of view to those around me. In a way, I think what we are learning is not only applicable to our literary education, but education as a whole and even our careers later on. Being able to communicate your point of view, understand others' points of view, and discuss ideas with peers and colleagues is an essential part of anything we do in life. Also, the live blogging is great because it gives us an introduction to a relatively new forum for discussion and information. I think this is important because our higher education and work lives will most likely be moving more into technology, and being able to work with technology will be important in this way as well. Overall, I think the way information is presented and learned through the fishbowl experience is not only great in learning better the literature we are studying, but I think it will prepare us better for our futures as well.

December 12, 2006 1:42 PM  
Blogger Haley C said...

I like fishbowling because it makes the conversation more interesting because we get to hear other peoples side. It opens our minds because we actually have to think of the answer instead of trying to memorize one that is told to us by a teacher. I feel that fishbowl with the live blogging lets everyone get in their word no matter if they are talking or blogging. I think that the blogging helps some people come out of their shell because they are shy and after they blog they are no longer shy and they are able to talk when it is their turn to either lead or discuss. I feel that the lab tops add another thing to the class. It brings in technology, something that we are all used to. We all spend hours on a computer for homework or just for fun and having something we use everyday brought into the classroom expands our learing because we can incopperate everything we know to everything we are learing. I think that fishbowling is also very useful because it is getting us ready for college the next step in our lives and i feel that it is very important to have a teacher like Smith who is letting us learn what college is going to expect before we actually get there because then we will be a step a head of everyone else.

December 12, 2006 4:31 PM  
Blogger ashleyg said...

I love having laptops in the classroom. When we use them for fishbowl it is so much easier to communicate. When you have 30 plus students trying to jump into a conversation all at once it gets a little unorganized. With the laptops available every student is able to participate. Many students do not like doing fishbowl for the simple fact of they do not like speaking infront of their peers. ALso some just do not have the selfconfidence to jump into a conversation and comment. If we would have had this opportunity as freshmen I can only imagine where we would be in terms of using technology now. I am very excited to see what outcome this has on the students that are freshmen now.
Also when we are able to use laptops in the outer circle during fishbowl it allows more than one conversation to go on. People are able to comment on what the inner circle is saying without having to run to the middle of the classroom praying that they can find an open desk. Also it allows for clarification of questions asked by the inner circle and questions about the book in general. Overall things are more organized and EVERYONE is able to participate.

December 12, 2006 6:15 PM  
Blogger stephm said...

Like Ashley said, I too enjoy having a laptop in the classroom. It creates room for several different discussions to take place without getting mixed up, and everyone gets a turn to say something. I like having kids my age open my eyes to things that I never would have thought of, and as many of you now know I like to argue and challenge other people's ideas to try to make them think and expand their thought process. Learning this way is a lot more insightful. When a teacher tries to tell you what the writer was implying or trying to say you wonder what teacher they heard that from. You are much more inclined to listen to someone that is going through the same thing as you at the same time. The kids in this class are constantly amazing me by the things that they say and what they pick up on in the book. Some observations are exactly what you would find in a college classroom, and after learning this way for just the past few weeks, I feel so much more comfortable entering into a college english classroom, if not for what I can learn on my own, for what my peers can teach me.

December 13, 2006 12:05 AM  
Blogger jeffg said...

Since freshmen year, there has been a steady increase in the use and dependance on technology. We have gradually seen the heavy influence technology has had on us lately, especially in school. I think that the technology we use, especially the laptops, is very beneficial. It is always very nice to sit down during class and be able to respond to everyone's comments on a blog. Also, these laptops are very helpful because they give everyone the chance to be proactive and interact in a discussion. For some people, speaking out to a class is very intimidating, so laptops are a great educational and efficient escape that is safe for everyone. These computers present everyone with an equal oppurtunity. I think that the freshmen should feel very fortunate for their oppurtunity to interact with laptops. They should really take advantage of this great oppurtunity that they have. I can't even imagine where they will be at during their senior year. Overall, I think that the technology at our school, and especially in our class rooms, is very beneficial, and it is very helpful in forcing us to learn, grow, and develop our thoughts in a much improved way.

December 13, 2006 7:39 AM  
Blogger chrisg said...

Since I have been apart of Mrs. Smith's class since freshman year, I have seen the idea of fishbowl develop. It started out, for me, in her class as a way to get the kids to teach, and through that teaching, to learn more. Also, it allowed for a large amount of class participation. I started having fishbowls in my other classes, especially honors history. As we grew older we became more developed with our learning, and fishbowl got better and better. Now with the the deep thinking, high level questions, and the live blogging the class participation and amount of learning have increased. Every student has a chance to say how he/she feels, and ask questions to anyone, not just a teacher. This new use of technology and constructivist learning methods, shcool, for me, has become more applicable, and interactive.

December 13, 2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger LeAnneC said...

I love being able to give insight to what we read in class. I did learn a lot before the fishbowl but I don't think that it would have ever benefitted my common sense knowledge for the real world. Before doing the fishbowl I never really applied what I read to what was going to happen in my life or what happened in the past. Now that we have the fishbowl, I think that I can connect with the book in a more personal level. I love how in fishbowl there is not wrong or right answer, yet you are still able to uncover the common motifs in the book. Instead of dazing off in class I am more engaged, I think that having your peers help you fight through your learning is more beneficial than having a teacher shed their views on what you should take away. Fishbowl has greatly impacted my decision to go to Colorado College. The classes there are extremly small, and they do the same kind of thing as the fishbowl as their teaching style. Part of school is being able to form your own ideologies and finding your own path through your knowledge and I think that fishbowl enables one to do it.

December 13, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger ZachM said...

I think one of the positives of fishbowl has been the chance to get the opinions of people who I would normally miss out on. I know that there are other ways to do this, but fishbowl seems to work well, especially when combined with the laptops. I think it gives the student a chance to voice their opinion and then have to defend it, which will only strengthen their argument. I love to argue and debate so the fishbowl has worked out great. It caters to someone who is loud and someone who is shy and quiet.

To explain the fishbowl/blog method to the community, I would just have to say that they should log on to our site. Being able to get opinions whenever you need them is a huge help not only when doing fishbowl, but working on other projects as well. What we are doing in this class is just the start of a big integration of ideas and opinions and thoughts between classmates and schools. Our community should be excited for this level of student involvement.

December 13, 2006 8:51 AM  
Blogger AmyB said...

I really like this question, i think that my learning has changed so much now that we do fishbowls. I think that fishbowling a book really helps me understand the book alot more, because it teaches us what we read on my level. I love how i can hear other peoples opinions also and how i can relate to other peoples thoughts. I definitely think that middle schools and even elementary schools should get into fishbowling, it will help the kids understand better and hopefully make the kids want to read more, and more challenging books.

December 13, 2006 9:33 AM  
Blogger Amy K said...

My education in English this year has been an incredible improvement from the past couple of years. I've always done well in the subject, but I have gotten distracted easily and sometimes it has been hard for me to stay on task. Using laptops and discussing the material through fishbowl is an interative way for me to participate in my own learning. It makes me more responsible for paying attention, taking notes, and listening to the ideas of my peers. I'm also a very visual learner and I like using computers so participating on the outer circle is one of my favorite ways to learn. I can get all of my points across and discuss with my classmates in an enviornment where everyone is heard. Teaching EACH OTHER Hamlet has been so beneficial for me and I have advanced in my learning/teaching skills because of the different way English class has been run this year.

December 13, 2006 9:47 AM  
Blogger KatieA said...

I like fishbowl because for once the kids get to be the teachers. The kids get to come up with the questions AND the answers. It personally makes me feel more grown up and responsibe and I like to be able to ask the questions i really want to know the anwer to.Not the ones that a teacher wrote down and you have to answer.

December 13, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger ashleym said...

English Lit. is designed to be a college prep class. I think that that is exactly what this class has done for me, and im pretty sure for everyone else. In college your not going to sit in a class and have a teacher talk at you and tell you what the theeme are in a book or the motifs or symbols etc. You have to find them for your self or with a group of people. By doing fish bowls you find other people's interpretations of Hamlet, or a novel, rather than what the teacher tells you. I think fish bowls are more fun any way. I would much rather come to a class room and discuss certain issues than being talked at for an hour. I learn better this way as well. I could explain this to Centennial simply by saying that this new method of teaching and this new method of learning is merely a stepping stone for the future of learning. The quality of education is increasing and I think that this is a perfect example of that.

December 13, 2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger Marie P said...

My thoughts are very different than everyone else so far. I think that separating the class is completely unnecessary. The inner circle gets a far more intricate and useful discussion than the outside bloggers. In the inner circle people are forced to come up with new topics, new ideas, and argue each other. The bloggers can simple agree with the person before, restate the idea, and hit submit. It is far less intelligent to sit there and agree with every point made in the inner circle because sooner or later everyone sounds like a broken record. The bloggers on the other hand can agree and agree and never have to find inner meanings and really dive into the play. It was so interesting that I brought up a very controversial point, out of absolutely no where, with only one situation of proof, yet everyone agreed in the blog. There were 15 comments after the opinion that Ophelia is pregnant. All saying the same thing: That is an interesting point. It explains a lot about why she committed suicide. I agree. Why wasn’t there just one devil’s advocate that said that the evidence that Ophelia isn’t great enough, or that Ophelia didn’t even commit suicide in the first place, or even that Ophelia being pregnant is completely random and if Shakespeare wanted the reader to know that he would have actually put that in the novel? This is only an example of the relationship of the outside circle to the inside and I’m not pointing fingers and telling the outside circle that they don’t think for themselves. I was in the outside circle three times before and I did the exact same thing. It is easier to agree with what is being said, wait for the topic to die down, then listen to what the inside circle is then saying, only to agree and move on. The inside circle gets such a better grasp on the literary elements and themes because they actually have to dive into the text and have an opinion on what is happening in the book. They have to do research and teach the other half of the circle what the motifs are and what connections were made. I think that blogging is a great tool for a very thought provoking question which students can take their time over as homework but for at the moment conversations it is too hard for a student to listen to everything being said in the inside circle, then proceed to have an actual opinion on what everyone is talking about.

December 13, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Scott M said...

The thing that I like most and that I find most beneficial about fishbowl as opposed to normal methods is that I get to hear the ideas of more people. With fishbowl since you get a grade people are forced to say their ideas as opposed to normal discussion where the same five people seem to give their opinions and the rest of the people just sit and listen. Since I like to think that I participate a lot and usually put out my ideas I like fishbowl and it helps me understand and get even more involved. I think that the whole technology thing helps a lot mainly for those people who aren’t good at putting their ideas into words and participating in group discussions. Although I think kids should still have to participate sometimes because those are skills that everyone needs in the real world so I can see how some teachers think that it is better for students to have to actually get into the fishbowl and voice their opinions.

December 13, 2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger DaveV said...

Not gonna lie, I've done fishbowls since freshman year at my old school in KY, and to be honest i hated them. I never really saw the point in fishbowls because i had always done them in history/social studies classes. So when Smith said that we were gonna be doing some fish-bowling in this class i was not too pleased. Things changed in this class tho, they way the fishbowl is conducted with the leaders, discussers, and the outer circle with the laptops, I have actually benefited from these fishbowls. Having your own classmates teach you the material is extremly helpful in my mind. The students in the class are all reading the material from the same perspective as you, they're not a teacher who has read it 40 times and just thinks that underlying themes should be common knowledge. HAving the computers is good too, because it allows you to get in your comments even if you cant interject in the actual discussion. This class has actually changed my mind sufficiently on fishbowls. To explain this to the community, it's as simple as students teaching students. It is a way to convey our own ideas and interact rather than taking notes and listening to a teacher ramble for an hour.

December 13, 2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger EmilyW said...

By having the fishbowl discussions in class I think I have benefited more from it than having a teacher stand in front of the room and lecture. With the lap tops it gave me the opportunity to give my opinions on what we were reading and also see what my classmates were thinking too. It gave me more insight of others opinions and would sometimes change my opinion on what I had thought before. The conversation that is going on in the middle really helps because it is a number of students trying to teach the class rather than just one person. With there being so many people, I heard way more comments and insightful comments that contiuned to help me understand and learn more about Hamlet. I felt like it was really preparing me for college...where you have to take your own education into your hands.

I don't know how I would fully explain the fishbowl to the community but I think that if they went on and checked it out they could see how much we contribute. They would see our ideas and opinions and how we have learned to communicate with each other effectively. With the fishbowl it's getting into groups into the center that lead the disussion while others listen to what they have to say and add on to the coversation.

December 13, 2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger CaitlinO said...

For me I think fishbowl helps me understand the material alot better. It's not just gven to me by being lectured at by a teacher. Being the person that has to do the research and think of questions that I have and want answered makes me think for myself. Equally, I think being one of discussers helps me learn more also. The infomation is coming from other students so I question it more. It makes me think of my own ideas. Instead of the teacher sitting their telling me what he/she thinks and then I think that too, without thinking and questioning it for myself. I also like the fact that I am getting more ideas from more people. It's not just the teacher saying her idea, and then the rest of us agreeing. Fishbowl also makes you step outside of your comfort zone because you have to say what you think. You can't just sit back and listen to other people talk.

I also like having the laptops and doing live blogging because even though it's not the same learning as being in the center fishbowl, you get to say your opnion. I have been in fishbowls previous years with other teachers. They have everyone in the center, so you don't get to say you opinion very often because there are so many people wanting to talk. Live blogging helps with that.

December 13, 2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger ClaireL said...

i love doing the fishbowl because i get so much more out of it than i would going over the information in any other way. In writing a paper, or taking a multiple choice test, you are graded on the facts of the book: what happened where and the technical details. But alot of the time, those aren't the most important things the author is trying to get across to the reader. In fishbowl you really get really in depth. I like hearing everyone's perspective because alot of the time someone will propose something that never even crossed your mind before and you look at the book in a whole new light. I like fishbowl especially when we are dealing with authors like Shakespeare and books written in a different form of english than we are used to. It is often hard to understand what is even going on when you read this kind of books and our fishbowl discussions really help me understand!

December 13, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Mark C said...

I am going to start out by agreeing with what mostly has been said: students teaching student helps more than a teacher revealing themes, the ability to get your viewpoints recognized through a student-led discussion, learning better from other students, and technology expanding the boundries of learning. Overall, however, I have found that this fishbowl learning style does something better than all of the previous points. Fishbowling causes students to think critically. As we delve into the twenty-first century, we are finding that the most important aspect of our life that education can give us is the ability to adapt. Fishbowling creates an atmosphere that is not comfortable, because it is difficult. The learning style requires students to think and work at a higher level. Because there is not a teacher at the front of the classroom teaching us facts and concrete themes, the students have to learn and think about the novel on their own. This requires critical thinking skills.

December 13, 2006 8:55 PM  
Blogger sonnyw said...

I am in agreement with Marie. The number of commments made by the outer circle in every fishbowl has been astounding. Yet, the majority of the comments are not too insightful. Whenever I look over the fishbowl blog comments, I usually just skip most of the comments that are only one or two lines long (honestly, what kind of insight can come in twenty words or less?). Short comments are usually just agreeing with the words of another; there aren't too many rabblerousers on the blog. There are notable exceptions, however. I like seeing some debate/argument being carried out on the blog (example: Zach, Steph, and Vanchina's comments on the Act 4 fishbowl). Debates such as these mimic what's actually going on in the inner circle and raise the intellectual level of the online conversation.

Other than that, fishbowling has been astounding. Each new discussion has raised the stakes, and each group of leaders and discussers has stepped up and made each fishbowl better than the last. The expectations that Smith has put on us, and that we have put on ourselves in senior year have resulted in the most meaningful discussions I've ever had in school. I am in love with English World Lit.

December 14, 2006 11:08 AM  

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