Saturday, 16 February 2013

It's not all apps...what about a wiki

"I love it when a" wiki "comes together." - Hannible Smith (George Peppard) of the A Team.

Okay. So when Faceman checked on the number of hits he got, it was more of a medical thing. And when Hannible posted, it might have been something to do with a letter or a football manoeuvre.
...but I can relate to the sentiment around a plan coming together...a wiki plan.

Using wikis in the classroom is a wonderful thing and I want to share two ways in how I have used them.

A Jigsaw

Let's talk poetry.  The dreaded poetry unit can instill fear into the most seasoned veteran teacher.  Wading through near-swearing limericks and onomatopoeia attempts can cause rapid hair loss.  Enter the wiki jigsaw.  A jigsaw in teaching terms is where students break apart and become experts in a certain thing.  They then come together and teach each other.  A wiki is perfect for that.  Students can make an expert teaching page on pretty much anything (in this case types of poetry).  Then the students use each others pages to create an anthology of their own (in this case. . .poems).  Add the usual metacognitive and self evaluatory piece with a good feedback rubric and you have yourself a unit!

Choose Your Own Adventure

This takes some preloading but is pretty cool.  I used to love reading Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.  Having a little control in the story that I am reading makes reading a little more fun.  A wiki is perfect for that too.  The ability to link up pages is key.

How is it done?  Well students need to be assigned a place in a web of possible story connections.  Someone has to start the ball rolling (probably the teacher to set up characters, setting and plot).  Each wiki page ends with 2 or more choices in the story.  The students have to read what goes on before their section, continue on with the story, then provide a few more choices at the end.  The unit isn't great for an "I've booked the computer lab for a double block" kind of setup but moreso over several weeks while students are doing other things.

Of course a story can start in the Middle Ages and end up Sci Fi. . .but that's the fun in it.  Kids are reading and writing, and that's what's important.  How have you used a wikis in your teaching?