We decided that over the summer I would identify and source suitable articles for students to read after each lesson to stimulate their thinking, and that teachers would deliberately engage in Connect and Wonder at the start of each lesson using lesson starters such as thought-provoking quotations to get students thinking about the topic and the questions they had about it before going into any detail. At the end of the lesson (or for prep) students would be given an opportunity to fill in any responses to the lesson material on their Key Ideas Construct sheet and begin to build an understanding of the topic ready for the discussion. They would also be expected to read and comment on the articles I had found relating to that lesson, and build ideas from these into their Construct sheets.
I found a fair number of suitable articles from a wide range of sources and, in consultation with Michael, we chose a series of “must read” and “extension” articles for each topic and I produced a printed booklet for each student. While I cannot post the finished booklet (which contained all the articles in full) here because we reproduced it under an educational copyright license which does not allow us to share it beyond our institution, I have shared the structure of the booklet with hyperlinks to the articles we used, should anyone wish to make something similar.
My second task was to build my understanding of Harkness discussion and how to prepare students for it and assess it. The critical step in the success of this inquiry was the discovery of the work of Alexis Wiggins who, in her own words “did ‘Harkness’ differently than Harkness schools out there” and has developed a method that she calls Spiderweb discussion (excellently explained here). I bought her book “The Best Class You Never Taught: How Spider Web Discussion Can Turn Students into Learning Leaders” and discovered it was exactly what I needed – a step-by-step guide to using the method in the classroom, complete with rationale and commentary. However, I still had quite a lot of work to do to understand how to support the teachers as they used this method for the first time. Michael sensibly suggested that an intermediate mini-discussion half-way through would help students and staff to get the idea, for which I found two potential video stimuli for teachers to choose from for the question “Should everyone study Economics?” (UAE – Why study Economics? and Masterclass – Paul Krugman teaches economics and society ).