Being an honors student all my life, I have gotten used to discussing, and I have loved it since my very first guided discussion in fourth grade. Personally, the best way for me to process my thoughts, and for them to be fully formed, is for me to talk them through with other people. I grow so much from hearing others ideas and from having to support my own. It helps me to become a better communicator and a better thinker. This past Tuesday, we had our final test on Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Macbeth. Generally, a test is a series of questions on a piece of plane white paper. However, Macbeth is not black and white, so that type of test just wasn’t going to cut it. Instead, we tried out our very first world famous Anne Smith Fishbowl discussion. This is not your usual discussion (Surprise, surprise! Like Ms. Smith would do something out of the box, please!). In this discussion, we mixed verbal discussion with blogger.
When I first heard about this double discussion idea, I was not too jazzed. I am not a lover of technology, so it seemed very impersonal to me for there to be a chance for teenagers to not talk in class. I mean, what sane teenager wouldn’t rather blog than discuss Macbeth? Let me just say, I was very pleasantly surprised! I couldn’t get a word in edgewise! Me, of all people, the one girl who usually dominates discussions and prays for others to speak up, did not get more than three chances to talk! It was astounding how much thinking was going on during those forty minutes of class. I felt like we could have spent many more hours discussing and growing as learners. There were 175 comments on our blog when we were finished, and there are only about 30 of us in the class! Wow!
Even though I didn’t blog too much, it was such a relief to type my thoughts when I couldn’t speak up because of all my fervently discussing peers. In that way, I could still have a discussion and finish thoughts that had been passed over in the verbal discussion. I could also remember what I was going to say during those long periods when others were conversing.
People whom I had never heard speak before let go of all their reservations on the blog. They spoke freely about their opinions and gave new insights to portions of the text. I was truly enlightened by the findings of my peers, and apprehended the material much more completely. Also, it was fun to have little disagreements that had to be worked through, and to be in complete agreement at times as well.
For any teachers who may be reading this post, I would seriously recommend trying this type of discussion out with your students, especially if you are reading literature that has important implications but that may be hard to understand. It was very beneficial to my understanding of Macbeth and I look forward to many more rewarding discussions like this in the days to come! - Hannah L.