When I read Stories in EDU, I took notes for my blog post about it. One of those notes was that I absolutely had to use ideas from Jason Bretzmann's "Salon with a View" in my last class.
You know the class. It's after lunch. It's two-thirds male. (Should this matter? No. Does it? Sometimes.) This class has a cluster of friends that are pretty loud, and there aren't enough corners in the room to separate the ones with the urge to chatter for the few moments they're supposed to be listening.
This class this year is also the class that did the best when we had our first fishbowl discussion. So... here's my spin-off of Jason's "Salon with a View..."
I sat down in my mom's rocking chair and spoke very quietly with my last class of the day. I had blue scratch paper, and I ripped it in half to show them that it didn't matter what was on the one side - the other side was for THEM to write on. I praised them for their listening and turn-taking skills in our first fishbowl discussion of the year, and told them that they were my best group. I emphasized that it wasn't easy to talk about that subject, because they were all in agreement, and yet they brought to the table research that the other groups had not, and they really made it an interesting discussion for me to observe. I then told them that my other classes were NOT going to get this special opportunity...
They were great listeners up until this point. Then they started asking questions and talking over each other again, so I waited in my mom's chair with my eyes closed and pointer finger over my lips until they were quiet. Next, I explained that they just witnessed what I see often in this class - many of them want to talk at once, and no one is heard. What if... what if... I explained... what if this class worked really hard and then were rewarded with more discussion time - with questions THEY wanted to ask?
As they got excited and asked more questions, I started passing out the scratch paper. I showed them where we keep it on the student station, and then found a gift bag we could use to keep them in. When the students who did not want to join in the discussions looked at me forlornly, I added that they did not have to participate - they could read their independent reading books. :)
We've been able to discuss a few since then! The first was a favorite of mine - "Reading or writing?" I loved how they debated the value of each!!
Next came "What is your favorite movie?" which really was just a chance to share their own favorites, and the latest was "Is water wet?" which got a bit heated...
Ahhh... seventh graders. I love the mix of crazy ideas and growing maturity! Thanks for this great idea, Stories in Edu!