Feed on

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:

  1. Learn basic Apple keyboard shortcuts (this makes copying and pasting much easier later on)
  2. Learn how to create hyperlinks in Microsoft Word (get to learn this skill before entering the wiki-world)
  3. Learn how to open a new tab and navigate between tabs in Safari
  4. Learn how to CTRL+click to open links in new tabs or windows
  5. Learn how to log in to our wiki on wikispaces
  6. Explore the editing features in wikispaces
  7. Learn how to create a hyperlink in the wiki
  8. Insert pictures on a wiki page
  9. 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:

  1. Created an ad-free education wiki on wikispaces
  2. Had wikispaces create 30 student accounts (they had it done in less than 24 hours)
  3. 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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  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

Blog + Wiki Class Project
Wiki + Blog Project #2

Wiki + Blog Class Project #3
Updates Galore

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

Note: My blog has now moved to Kate Saysplease visit this post there if you’d like to comment or read responses from others!

7 Responses to “Wiki Project – Fresh Start”

  1. Sue Wyatt says:

    Hi Kate,

    I started using a wiki with my history class. Instructions were, in pairs, they had to research a topic relating to the local municiapality. They would have to conduct an interview and or send emails to get information as well as use the internet and other sources. They began by putting their questions on their page, then typing in answers as found. Other students could put comments on page of other references they had found. The final product I will be assessing is at least one paragraph on topic, including hyperlinks or referencing, images or diagrams with appropriate sourcing and a quiz created by the students. I included the wiki rubric on the first page as well so they knew how they were being assessed.

    Some kids have done well, others not even got permission yet to be on the wiki.


  2. murcha says:

    Hi Kate
    I find that students love working with wikis and that it is quite a user friendly tool. the most tedious part, I find is inviting the students in, as this takes time to set up. So, I logon and get them to type in their individual email addresses. They then return to their desktop and activate the email they receive. However, I find that email can take a few days, which again, slows down the process. How did you get your students in? Our students have also started their pages with an about me section (no personal details) with general information about their favourite foods, sport, interests etc.
    It is indeed unfortunate that you only have those students for such a short time, as you will then need to consider what becomes of their wikis once they leave your classroom.

  3. Hi Kate
    Last term I gave the Grade 5 girls (two classes of 28) a wiki project on early man in Africa as outlined here: https://springfieldearlyman.pbwiki.com/
    (use veritas as the invite key). Go to “show all pages” below to find the project outlines and the girls’ individual pages. The welcome page is at the bottom.
    It’s a first for me but as I have these girls for an hour a week for the next 2 1/2 years I thought we could all build on the skills learned here.
    It has been a reasonable success and many of them have gone on to make their own wiki’s.
    The girls who were disadvantaged were those who were paired with a lazy partner, those with poor time-management skills and those who had no internet access at home.
    Most of them managed to create hyperlinks, answer specific questions, upload pics and assess their final product.

    I was unsuccessful in getting professionals to act as guides (e.g. anthropologists,) and am keen to get professional feedback on how I can improve my design and presentation of my project. Very few girls looked at the guidelines provided – I think because navigation was to complex.

    Carolynn B

  4. Damian says:

    After I completed my first student wiki project last year, I wrote up a few sections for teachers, including reflections, student feedback, and assessment criteria. You can find these at the bottom of the sidebar menu at http://britishromanticism.wikispaces.com

    Also, I put together an overview of wikis for a presentation I gave this past February here: http://njascd-wikis.wikispaces.com – some intro and how-to stuff on there, as well as links to examples of what I call “Tier 1″ and “Tier 2″ wikis.

  5. Rick says:

    Yep, you need a projector! That you’re able to get that much accomplished without one is pretty amazing. Imagine how much learning will take place once they can actually see what’s supposed to go on on the screen.

  6. Louise Maine says:

    My wiki is an example of pair work/individual work/group work.

    Walk them through little parts and give little tasks to start.

    One other suggestion: Lock pages. Go to manage space/List pages/Choose your page and lock it. That stops them from changing the home page.

    I do that. Sometimes I forget and then are remonded when a page is wiped out or messed with it. Easy to fix, but easier to prevent.

  7. m3teacher says:

    I too have taught the use of wikis in my classroom. I teach Year 5 and 6 (9-10yr olds) and they now range from extremely competent to average in the use of our class topic wiki: pohutukawa.wikispaces.com.

    I have spent the last 6 weeks off and on using it. They have had to post two lots of writing on the wiki which involves editing a main page and linking to a new page. I only have the one log in and password that all the students use and sometimes we have 20 kids editing the same page at once which surprisingly has not caused too many problems (although someone did manage to wipe our home page!!).

    The linking is the tricky part — they accidently linked backed to another page but we are getting there. I also asked them to copy and paste a page they had written on to our class blog which is a really good skill to teach.

    I am now starting to see the transfer of these skills. One of my students has written their own wikipedia page at home!

    P.S. Thanks Louise for that excellent advice to lock the home page! If only I had known this before!