Webbing Your Way Forward

Submitted By:
Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

The Best Class You Never Taught by Alexis Wiggins
ASCD, January 1, 2017

In her eminently practical book, The Best Class You Never Taught, Alexis Wiggins makes the case for, and then offers a pathway to, student-led seminar conversations, which she calls “Spider Web discussions.” A kind of Harkness 2.0, Wiggins’s methodology is compelling and easily implemented, and it is applicable across disciplines and grade levels. Teacher concerns about shy students or students who tend to dominate are addressed head on, as Wiggins also describes the challenges of beginning a practice that centers on Spider Web discussion, and her encouragement to stay the course and her commitment to truly allowing students to become “learning leaders” is persuasive and inspiring. She offers practical tips to ensure success and then outlines myriad benefits that inevitably arise from this approach, including: better assessment data, increased homework completion, greater student autonomy, and an ethical and safe classroom environment. This book is a handbook for any group of teachers eager to turn over the real work of discussion to students and to help to create a community of collaborative inquiry in their classrooms.

Teaching Practice