Now There’s a Wiki

… even if it’s making a slow start!

I decided that rather than simply look at pictures of places in our community and list them, we could use another Web 2.0 tool, a wiki, as a tool for presenting information the children gathered on different places in our community for our Living in Communities unit.

The result is the start of our 4B Wiki.  Pairs of students are preparing a short information report or description on a place of their choosing.  We’ll also gather photographs or weblinks to give a little more to the text.

In preparing the report, students had to find answers to, and address four questions:

  • What is the place?
  • Where is the place?
  • How has the place changed over time?
  • How does the place help people?

Our Aquilina Reserve team has done a pretty good job for a first go.  Now we just need to get the rest of the class up and going.

My only problem now is that we’re running out of time this term!  We still haven’t word processed the expositions or created the databases that are assessment tasks for our Term 1 English and HSIE units.  Listen to me – word processing and databases – how 20th Century?!  Maybe it’s time to revise our “technology integrated” assessment tasks.

I wonder if I can get away with having the “book review” task delivered/presented as a post on their Reading Group blog?  Or will I stir things up across the grade?  Will they even know we’re doing the same task in a different form?  We might just give it a go…

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The Class Blog Continues

Our class blog is continuing with great success. We’re now starting to get a few comments which is really good, especially for those students who need encouragement. I gave some students time the other day to just go back and see that they’d received comments and that someone had read their work.

We’ve also had a quite significant expansion. Our reading groups in the class each have a blog now where I post each week and the students respond in a comment. In the post I give a few questions to help guide the response.

I’m trialling it with the hope that it can take the “reading response” many of us teachers do in readers circle to another level. Effectively, the written reading response is a two-way communication, between the student and the teacher, who serves as their audience. With the blog comment, students can not only respond to me as teacher, but to each other. Some of my students looking for a challenge have already begun reading each other’s comments on the book and posting additional comments in response to what their children are writing. I just need to work with them a little more on structuring this to engender a fuller “on-line conversation”, rather than sticking simply to “I said that too”, “Good idea”, and similar closed responses.

Another challenge all this blogging brings about (even with each student only blogging once a week about their book) is the information overload it’s already creating. I look at the comments at the moment and wonder how I can keep track of all the spelling and grammatical errors that are appearing and address them all. I think a first step is for them to write a comment in a word processor first, spell check it, then copy it into the blog comment. If they were writing a post, they would have access to spell check, but not when they comment. I suppose I’m not so worried about the errors if over the months to come we start to see an improvement. Perhaps it would be good to have an electronic record of students’ progress in re-reading and self-editing their writing.

Anyway, we’ll see how we go. Now we just have to start on the wiki!