I had the opportunity to listen to a keynote by Stephen Sroka last week. At one point, Dr. Sroka took out a little bottle of bubbles, took a deep breath, and blew bubbles into the audience. He took three breaths and blew bubble three times to simulate relaxation breathing. I sat there thinking that I wanted to use this technique in my classroom. I know that physical activity helps to reduce stress and anxiety as well as stimulate the mind. Purposeful breathing paired with reflection helps open the mind to deep thinking. I wondered if there was a way to incorporate movement, breathing, and discussing, so I began brainstorming ideas to combine all three. This led to an activity I call Bubble Discussions.
This activity involves all three with the idea that in order for students to participate in deep-thinking conversations, they need to feel respected, calm, and stimulated to engage effectively.
Step 1: Students read a meaningful text. The topic of this short text (no more than two pages) is high-interest with multiple interpretations possible.
Step 2: The teacher chooses quotes from the text to display around the room. In addition to these quotes, the teacher may choose to include visuals (pertaining to topic) and quotes from other power texts. Between 8-12 pieces of paper are hung around the room.
Step 3: Students walk around the room. Using highlighters, they mark the texts identifying words or phrases that are meaningful or resonating with them at that moment. If visuals are used, students highlight specific elements of the visual they find powerful. For example, a facial expression or the lighting of an object in the setting may stimulate a connection a student is making.
Step 4: When prompted, students will return to their seats. The teacher will provide three speech bubbles to the students. Students complete each speech bubble with a thought they have about a specific observation they made viewing the texts. Students then place each speech bubble next to the identified text.
Step 5: Students walk around the room looking at the marked texts and reading the corresponding speech bubbles.
Step 6: The teacher posts an overarching discussion question. While students are reflecting on the activity and the question, students take out bubbles. Each student, as directed, take a deep breath and blow bubbles. They do this three times while thinking about the discussion question.
Step 7: Class Discussion
This activity provides students with several moments to process. They process the text they read, comparison texts and visuals, and the discussion question. Providing students with multiple opportunities helps them successfully prepare for class discussion. At any point during this activity, the teacher can build time for students to complete a think-pair-share or a small group share.