Assigning Roles in SPIDER WEB Discussion

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student taking notesWhen implementing SPIDER WEB discussion in your classroom, you may find a class or student who proves to be especially challenging. In her book The Best Class You Never Taught: How SPIDER WEB Discussion Can Turn Students Into Learning Leaders, Alexis Wiggins suggests assigning roles to individuals or groups of students to help overcome some of the challenges. Wiggins identifies the following helpful roles (pp. 106-107):

  1. Web grapher: The web grapher creates the graph of the conversation. It requires the student to be attentive to all speakers.
  2. Three-question asker: The three-question asker is allowed only questions during the discussion and cannot speak any other time.
  3. Key Passage Leader: The key passage leader identifies two to four pieces of text for discussion and analysis. It may be useful to assign this role ahead of the discussion
  4. Textual Evidence Leader: The textual evidence leader monitors discussion and keeps the group focused on the text.
  5. Rubric Leader: The rubric leader helps everyone be aware of the rubric items throughout the discussion and guides toward completion of all rubric tasks. This individual is only allowed to speak once or twice during the middle or end of the discussion to keep people focused on the goals.
  6. Host: The host invites student into the discussion. The host is aware of who has not spoken and encourages them to speak through the use of engaging questions.
  7. Vocabulary/Literary Terms Leader: The vocabulary/literary terms leader is to have a hard copy of the literary terms and make sure that at least one new term is used during the discussion. The new term may be introduced by the vocabulary/literary terms leader or another participant.
  8. Feedback giver: The feedback giver is the only silent participant during the discussion. The feedback giver only speaks during debriefing.

These roles are suggested by Wiggins. As you employ SPIDER WEB discussion in your classroom, you may find some of these roles are unnecessary and others may need to be created. The more you tailor the methodology to your classroom, the more engaging it will become for you and your students!

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