Title: “Discussion Web”
By: Krystal Billeck
Edited by: Stephanie Martinez & Heather Miller

Textbook Definition: a strategy used in cooperative learning that requires students to explore both sides of issues during postreading discussions before drawing conclusions (Pg.340)
Description of the Lesson: Students learn about both sides of the Civil War before drawing their own conclusions.
When it was Observed: September 26, 2011
Teacher & School: Mrs. Brown (Faith West Academy)
Grade Level: 5th Grade
Objectives of the Lesson: The students will know both viewpoints of the Civil War and come to their own conclusion of who was in the right or in the wrong.
Materials Needed for the Lesson:
  • Handout about both sides of the Civil War
  • Discussion web handout
  • Two different colored dry erase markers
  • The dry erase board
  • Pens/Pencils and paper (for the students)

Procedure: Mrs. Brown started out by preparing her students to read by activating their background knowledge, presenting new vocabulary words, and giving them a reason for reading. She urged her students to think back on what has happened in the history they had learned up until then. Also, she introduced new vocabulary words that they may not have been familiar with such as proclamation, revolutionary, and emancipation. She then helped her students understand why they were reading this handout – to find out who they believed was right in the war (the Confederates or the Union).
Mrs. Brown had a student pass out handouts about the Confederate army and the Union Army. After her students had read the handout, she passed out another handout with a discussion web that asked “Who should win the Civil War?”. Mrs. Brown instructed the students write down the reasons they thought the south should/should not win on the right and the reasons why they thought the north should/should not win on the left. They would then write down their conclusions at the bottom of both pages.
After the students had come up with their conclusions, they were given the opportunity to share them with the class. Mrs. Brown announced that they were going to write down some of the students’ thoughts and ideas on the dry erase board. She had the students volunteer to write down their reasons on the board (the south in red and the north in blue). This allowed them to see other points of view and reasoning that may not have crossed their minds before.
Supporting Documents:





(Discussion Web)

My Observations of the Lesson: I believe Mrs. Brown’s method of teaching two different sides is one of the best methods. I have found that many teachers simply teach both sides but usually with an emphasis on one side being right and the other being wrong. Sometimes our beliefs and biases are inevitable in the classroom. However, teachers should sometimes allow students to come up with their own conclusions.
Once the students were able to come up with their own deductions, I was surprised to see that some were very different from the others. There were actually quite a few students who thought the south should have won the war, when there were others who felt the north should have won. Some of the students found their peers’ opposing thoughts interesting, but mostly they stood their ground on their initial conclusions. It was fascinating to hear all of their points of views and see how unwavering they were to alter their decision.
Benefits of “Discussion Web”: Discussion webs…
  • stimulate students’ thinking.
  • allow students to interpret and come to their own conclusions.
  • enhance comprehension through personal connections.
  • help students discover their own beliefs and values.

Drawbacks of “Discussion Web”:
  • class discussion can be dominate by the teacher
  • teachers can unconsciously teach that their conclusions are the right ones
  • some students can dominate discussions

Teachers should remember to let the students do most of the talking (within reason) and provide every student with the opportunity to discuss their thoughts.