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Income and Wealth (Economics A-Level): Spiderweb Discussion


Overall discussion question: To what extent should the government prioritize a fairer distribution of income and wealth?

Conducting a Spiderweb discussion

Reminder: What is a Spiderweb discussion?

A Spiderweb discussion is a method for you to share and discuss what you have learnt during this part of the course in order to address the inquiry question. It is likely to last 20-30 minutes. This is a whole class discussion, it is not led by any individual, although your teacher may nominate someone to get it started. Your teacher will not speak during the discussion, but will make notes and feed back to you afterwards, both on the quality of the discussion and the Economics discussed.

Why are we doing it?

Through Spiderweb discussion you will learn to:

  • "Think critically,
  • Work collaboratively,
  • Participate fully,
  • Behave ethically,
  • Ask and answer high-level questions,
  • Support [your] ideas with evidence, and
  • Evaluate and assess [your] own work."


Research suggests that the number of jobs requiring social skills is growing more than any other type of job. Project Oxygen at Google was designed to determine what made a good manager, and the top three characteristics they found were all to do with social skills – learning to work with and to empower others. These are the kinds of skills companies are looking for at interview. These are skills you can learn! (Wiggins, 2017, p. 10)

Critically though, Spiderweb discussion is about content as well as skills. In order to participate meaningfully in the discussion you will need to know and understand the material you have been studying in this unit, and be able to analyze and evaluate key arguments in order to address the inquiry question. You will be expected to use technical Economic vocabulary (and explain it to others) and to back your arguments up with evidence. This discussion will provide you with a solid grounding for answering essay questions on this topic.

How do I prepare?

  • Throughout the topic you have been reading and making notes on articles addressing the inquiry question from different angles.
  • Before the discussion you need to complete your "Key ideas" sheet, which you can use as a prompt during the discussion.
  • You should review any class notes you have to make sure that you understand the underlying principoles.
  • You may also have a lesson to prepare in small groups so that you can feel like an 'expert' in one particular area - but you must participate throughout the discussion. During this time, make a note of some questions you can ask the group if the discussion seems to be flagging during your section.

Top Tips for a great spider web discussion:

  1. Don’t talk over each other
  2. Try not to interrupt – wait for a chance to contribute
  3. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak, and encourage those who ae naturally quiet
  4. Ask each other questions to keep the discussion going, and to make sure you understand each other
  5. Use your Key Ideas sheet as a point of reference, and make sure you include specific examples and key Economic vocabulary

Above all, don't be so focused on what you want to say next that you forget to LISTEN to others!


Wiggins, A. (2017). The best class you never taught. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


The two videos below show sample Spiderweb discussions so that you can see what you are aiming for. You may have watched the first one in class in September.

Fourth Form English (Alexis Wiggins).

This is Miss Wiggin's own English class, who are experienced in Spiderweb Discussion. You can see her in the background making notes to provide feedback later.

Fourth Form World History (Alexis Wiggins).

Miss Wiggins is introducing this much larger group to Spiderweb Discussion for the first time. This video is much longer - if you are short of time you might want to skip the the feedback section from 13.49 onwards, particularly up to 22.29, where she is feeding back on the quality of the discussion.

Spiderweb discussion rubric

The rubric used during the Spiderweb discussion which explains what you have to do to get a good group grade. Remember that the grade itself is just a marker of how successful the discussion has been and how much you as a group have got out of it.

Notemaking and summarising resources

Use this journal to make notes as you read each article. One page per source.

  • First note key ideas and quotes in the left hand column
  • Then reread these and explain how they relate to the inquiry question in the right hand column.
  • Don't forget to comment on the quality of the source.

You should make notes like this on both the Recommended Reading articles for each section. (If you choose to make notes by hand rather than on screen, use a shortened URL in the source description e.g. rather than the full URL of the article).

Once you have completed your reading for each area you can start to transfer your ideas to this summary sheet, which you will use as your notes for the Spiderweb discussion. Don't forget to explain the key Economic ideas for each area in the "basic explanation" box on the left hand side of the sheet, and highlight any key vocabulary so that you can make sure you use it in the discussion.

This sheet should be printed double sided on A3.

You may wish to use this sheet to collect a list of technical terms as you progress through this topic. You might find it helpful to have this list to refer to during the discussion.

Normal term-time Library opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 08:30-21:15
Sat: 08:00-16:00
Sun: 14:00-18:00