Wikify Education – Session 6

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I’m at my first session this morning, Wikify Education.  The presenters, Jennifer Fano and Debbie Iosso, are administrators from Randolph, New Jersey so I am looking forward to a new perspective on using wikis in the classroom.  Last year I used them a little as my students created an online textbook and glossary last year.  This year I am toying with the notion of cross-site collaboration where my students will create a wiki periodic table with students two other sites – one in my district and one in Modesto.

Before we even get started talking about wikis, one interesting thing I am already noticing is that these presenters have ditched PowerPoint and are using PicLens/Cool Iris as part of their presentation.  All of their slides and key images seem to be kept in a folder and they are showing them by moving around a PicLens/Cool Iris interface.  Very cool!  I am definitely going to blatantly steal that idea! :-)

Back to wikis….

Why Would you Use Them?

  1. Collaboration – Much easier than emailing back and forth with multiple users.  A wiki is website anyone can edit.  The members of “anyone” can be determined by you.  It could be your students, a group of colleagues, or literally anyone in the world.
  2. Easy to Use – If you can click and type you can edit a wiki.
  3. Good for Problem Solving and Project Based Learning
  4. Go Paperless
  5. FREE!  Yes…FREE!

Advice for Getting Started?

  1. Getting Acquainted – As administrators they set up a wiki for staff to use and get familiar with how they function.
  2. Jump In – Don’t be afraid to get started.
  3. Take Small Bites – Don’t have a every teacher launch a wiki at the same time.  It will overload teachers and kids.
  4. Provide Support – Provide ongoing support for teachers on a regular basis.
  5. Evaluate – Look back.  Has this tool enaged your students?  Has it improved learning?

Using Wikis with Students

  1. Science – Finding out what students want to learn.  A science teacher invited all of her students to the wiki.  Their only goal was to share and collaborate.  At the beginning of the year students were asked to post questions they were interested in learning.  Within a few days students started responding to one another by posting links, videos, and other information.  They were doing research with out being asked!
  2. Language Arts – Students collaborated in groups to create a character and a setting in Whoville.
  3. History – Students worked on a currency project.  Goals and objectives were posted online.  Students created projects and posted their projects through a wiki.

Using Wikis with Staff

  1. Staff Development/Collaboration – Teachers received SMARTboards and went to three trainings.  They knew that for these teachers they needed more than just the three trainings.  So, they created a wiki where teachers could return and get even more information when they needed and were ready for it.  They also wrote curriculum as a team with administrators, library media specialists, and other teachers through a wiki.
  2. Staff Meetings – At Debbie’s school staff meeting notes and agendas are posted to the a school staff meeting wiki.  Teachers, staff, and administrators also posted resources, questions, and threaded responses.  According to Debbie, “It was a great way for teachers to collaborate comfortably.”
  3. Administrator’s Wiki – The admin council (administrators and other district leaders) had to read and review two books over three weeks during the summer to prepare for a retreat.  The council jigsawed the books in groups and posted their notes and reflections in different parts of the wiki.  They also created a face-to-face meeting chart that allowed people to let others know whether or not they would be able to attend (none of those reply-to-all emails).

Using Wikis with the Community

  1. KidsFirst Wiki – The person at their site who meets and coordinates SST/IEP/Discipline meetings created a wiki for parents with links, strategies, and resources for parents to use with their students at home.  The special education teachers also added special portions for SST meetings, such as what is a 504.
  2. Assistive Technology Wiki – A list of resources for teachers and special education professionals about RTI and assisitve technologies.
  3. Invite an Expert – They created a wiki on differentiation strategies for teachers and staff.  Participants added successful strategies and ideas.  Eventually the wiki link was sent to differnetion experts (authors, researchers, and university professors).

Anecdotal Stories

  • In one class students (on their own) created a giant list of notes, videos, and other resources as study guide to review for a midterm.  The teacher had never brought up the idea in class.
  • There were more, but I couldn’t type fast enough.  😀

Making Wikis

During the last 15 minutes participants had time to make their very own wikis.  If you are interested in making wiki check out Wikispaces or PBWiki.  I use both, but I have become a huge fan of Wikispaces because as an educator you can submit your wiki for a free Plus upgrade.  This gives you 2GB of storage, 20MB uploads, and a few additional features.  When you have a moment take look at the links provided by Debbie and Jennifer.  They have some great ideas.  Since I have made mention of my past wiki projects, here a few links for you.

Off to my next session….

Joe

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