As I wrote in my post a few days ago, I am starting over on my attempt to teach basic wiki (web editing/content creation) concepts (replacing Powerpoint – my choice) to my 6th graders. I rotate groups every 10 days (50 min. each day, 30 of which need to be spent typing), so I’ve been struggling to do this project in a way that fits in the time schedule and actually still achieves my objectives. As I created the lesson/project, I kept reviewing in my head the skills that I use on a daily basis when working on wikis and other web projects – blogs, websites, moodle, etc – to ensure that I cover the basics.
One of the things that has been both a blessing and a curse is the fact that I have no overall project that this is fitting into – it’s not part of a history project or a literature circle or anything of that sort. As this is a technology (ok fine, it’s a keyboarding class) class, the objectives are the actual skills involved in editing a wiki (which translate to other web applications) which will then be used in other (core) classes (in an ideal world). The fact that there’s no overall project is nice because the kids get to choose their topic, but they’re having a hard time understanding that they get to choose what their pages are about (wonder why?).
Here are the steps of the project:
- Learn basic Apple keyboard shortcuts (this makes copying and pasting much easier later on)
- Learn how to create hyperlinks in Microsoft Word (get to learn this skill before entering the wiki-world)
- Learn how to open a new tab and navigate between tabs in Safari
- Learn how to CTRL+click to open links in new tabs or windows
- Learn how to log in to our wiki on wikispaces
- Explore the editing features in wikispaces
- Learn how to create a hyperlink in the wiki
- Insert pictures on a wiki page
- Embed video on a wiki page
Again, all of these skills translate to other web content creation and are key digital skills for efficient work online.
We have only made it through step 5 and since we only have one day left, we won’t get to the videos this time around. I plan to start the project earlier with the next group so we can make it through the entire project.
Here are the steps I took to get everything set up:
- Created an ad-free education wiki on wikispaces
- Had wikispaces create 30 student accounts (they had it done in less than 24 hours)
- Created 30 student pages
*Note – the pages and accounts all have corresponding numbers from 1-30. Student 1 has a login that includes “student1″ and will then work on Student Page 1. Much easier for being able to re-use the logins and pages.
Actually teaching the lesson was a lot of fun and although the usual craziness occurred (30 kids on a mishmosh of machines, some craziness guaranteed) the students did a great job and had fun (wait, does that mean they didn’t learn?)
The lessons I learned from this:
- Wikispaces looks and acts VERY different on a Mac running an ancient version of Safari compared to a PC running Firefox – my school has a Mac lab (only school that has Macs in whole district) and I work on a PC and teach on PCs in the rest of my schools. The main thing was that the color and other editing options didn’t work for the kids on their pages and when they were inserting links, they couldn’t see what it would look like until they saved and went back to the “pretty page”. Say what? Pretty page? Hate to admit it, but that’s what we call the wiki pages that everyone actually sees – it’s the pretty page and the behind-the-scenes page (in edit mode). It works for us!
- I desperately need a projector in my classroom. I’m getting better and better about giving great descriptive instructions, but I NEED a projector. Need one.
- None of the tasks in this project were easy for the students. They caught on, but not one of the skills was already known. For all of the talk (not mine) of digital ***** (can’t say the word), online productivity is NOT an inherent skill.
- No matter how many times I say “Only edit YOUR page”, they’ll still forget and just start working on the home page. 5 kids at once were all working on the home page! 5!
- I might need to create another wiki for the next group rather than just reusing this one, because the students were disappointed that someone else would be working on their pages that they’d started. No big deal, I’ll probably do that. I will re-use the usernames and logins, though, since they’re generic – even if the kids want to work on their pages outside of my class when they’re out of my rotation, the chance of them being on at the same time as the other student with their login is very slim.
I’m absolutely loving teaching these skills and the very best part? 1/2 of the class was begging to be allowed to work on it over the weekend. ‘Nuff said.
If you have helpful tips for me, I’d welcome them with open arms!
My Related Posts
Resources to help you get started
Apple Keyboard Shortcuts – very simple handout I created for class
Getting Started with Wikispaces – I just found this today after figuring out a lot of this stuff through trial and error – great guide by Liz Davis
Mobile Technology in TAFE Guide to Wikis – Sue Waters’ resource list for teaching with wikis (again, just found this today!)
Wikispaces for Teachers – site for creating your own education wiki
Wikispaces Help for Teachers – FAQ on education wikis
Batch Account Creation on Wikispaces