Socratic "Fishbowl" Circles

Roles and Guides:

A Socratic "Fishbowl" Circle is a student-centered reading strategy designed to foster deep reading through student conversations. The entire class reads the same thing--a novel, for example-- and prepares for several fishbowls. The novel is divided into several manageable segments--six seems to be a good number; and the class is divided into three groups which rotate among three different roles.


1. Inner-Circle
2. Observers of Interactions
3. Observers of the Conversation (Bloggers)

Students needed to be normed to understand what this kind of activity should look like, and it is important to plan on several sessions throughout the course of the novel. Students participated in six fishbowls each for The Outsiders and Speak, which gave them the opportunity to participate in each role twice. Class time between fishbowls was dedicated to Self-Directed Work Time (SDWT). In addition to the fishbowls, students understood at the onset of each novel what the final essay topicsand grading rubric were, so that during SDWT, students could read, annotate the text, work on their novel word bank, take notes for the inner-circle, contribute to the blog discussion, or work on developing their final essay.

Student Preparation for Socratic Questioning:

Teacher Preparation:

Grade Tracking:

Because the activies and due dates for each student are asynchronous, I also developed a grade trackerfor each novel so that students could be cognizant of their overall grades. I would sometimes meet with students during SDWT to check to see that their logs matched mine. Doing this empowered students to make choices about whether or not they were interested in swapping roles for the last fishbowls.

Examples of Fishbowl Response Blogs:


by Laurie Halse Anderson

to page 32

The Outsiders
by S. E. Hinton

First Period LA

to page 67

Seventh Period LA

to page 99

to page 132

to page 167

to end