Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Idea: Fishbowling Dialogue for Large Classes

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Someone at UCT today (unfortunately I have forgotten her name!) asked me how to apply dialogue and some of my pedagogy in a large class of 180 or so. I usually teach 20-25. While thinking aloud, I made a suggestion which we both liked and I think it could also work well in midsize classes 25-50. (Indirect thanks to Rebecca and Autumm because fishbowl is a VC presentation format we do together with others at VC. I also think there is probably a Crticial Friendship Group format similar to what I am describing).

So the idea is that within a large class, students can know early on what each class topic will be, and students sign up to be in the inner circle of dialogue for that day. That group participate in that session and sit closer to the front. Others are watching, but they can, like theatre of the Oppressed, decide to join the inner circle. So they aren’t excluded.

I wonder if this idea is also a good idea for grading participation? Students in a semester are expected to participate in inner circle X number of times, and if they join an inner circle spontaneously this also counts towards their participation.

I don’t always know what I’ll be talking about in each class but I am slightly more organized than I used to be. I also think since I have smaller classes, I can probably make sure each student participates at least once in each topic.

I guess one risk is you have homogeneous groups about particular topics on certain days. So perhaps this needs a bit more thought. But in general, I think the idea has potential.

Have you tried something similar? Do you have thoughts on how that might work for you or me?

One Comment

  1. I like the idea of students signing up for inner circle topics, Maha!

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