Welcome to the wonderful world of wikis! I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past few days learning about how wikis can be used in the classroom to support student learning. I’ve discovered that they are amazing tools for collaboration and, from visiting, several classroom wikis, have gotten several ideas of how I might use wikis in my classroom. Here are some descriptions of what I found:
Mr. Miller’s English 10 Resource Wiki is full of information that would help any student in his class learn more, understand more, and enjoy the class more. When I visited, the front page included a Prezi presentation about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an essay test question, quotes to study for a test, and links to several homework assignments related to the play that students completed on the class wiki. Miller also lists some essential questions that he uses throughout the course.
I was really impressed by how focused the wiki is. It’s well-designed and not too complicated. The idea of Essential Questions that carry throughout a semester would be enormously helpful to students in that they would help them see the connections between texts and the real world relevance of the texts. The homework assignments that Miller posts also support students in their learning, as they tend to be tasks that bridge the gap between the world of Shakespeare and the 21st century student. For example, in one assignment, students are asked to write about a connection between a song lyric and an idea in the play. This wiki could also help support students’ learning because it’s a great place for parents to go for information about what children are learning in Miller’s class.
Ms. Cohen uses this wiki as a space for all her classes: AP English Language, AP English Literature, and Pre-IB. This, in my opinion is one of its strengths, as it allows students to see what is happening in other courses and make connections between courses. In addition, it allows Ms. Cohen to be efficient – she can post information and resources that apply to all class in one central spot, then post course-specific information on each class’s individual page. Another strength is the “Discuss!” area of the wiki. Here, it looks like you participate in a live chat or request a time to set up a live chat with Ms. Cohen (and maybe other classmates). This level of accessibility could really help create a climate where students feel comfortable approaching their teacher with questions, concerns, and ideas. Another way Cohen seems to use this wiki to create that climate is by announcing that she is seeking nominations for the “Mizcees,” which are awards she gives to deserving students.
It appears that Ms. Hogue uses her classroom wiki as a space where students collaborate on projects. When I visited, the site seemed very clean. By this, I mean that on the front page there wasn’t much more than a “Current Projects” heading with “English 11 Salem Witch Trials Webquest Reports” written underneath. In the right-hand navigation, I found links to the Webquest Reports that students completed in small groups as well as directions for the assignment. Now, I don’t know if Ms. Hogue still uses this wiki, but it helped me think that, for some students, visiting a wiki or other online space that was crowded with links and assignments and videos and images and other items – well, it might be confusing. I know I have some students, especially some in my inclusion classes, who would be overwhelmed by a wiki with too much going on. I think the lesson here is to know your audience. If I decided to use a wiki with that inclusion class, I’d probably try to make it as clean and simple as Ms. Hogue’s.