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Thursday, January 26, 2006

3rd and 4th graders using wikis



I'm enjoying reading about how John P. has had some third and fourth graders are using wikis. This school is Middle J at Bellaire PS in Geelong, Victoria, Australia and they are using pbwiki.

They did this project last semester on minibeasts. (I didn't know what minibeasts were! I do now!) John P says:

The most interesting factor was that, (admittedly after some encouragement), a number of the students actually took up the challenge of adding to and mosifying the wiki out of school time from their home computers. To me this is on of the ultimate uses of the wiki, to breakdown the classroom learning barrier and make greater connections between what is happening at school and what is happening out of class.


I work with older students so it took less encouraging for them to work on their wikis from home. In fact, as I'm drafting this on Thursday night, I see that KatieB has been editing her page on Values as recently as 5:44 pm tonight.

As I look over the pbwiki pages for the first time, I miss a few features from wikispaces and some other wikis I've reviewed. I've asked John these questions and will let you know when I get answers. The features I miss:
  • I can't see who did the edits and what edits were made. (It only shows the last two weeks.)
  • I don't see a link for discussions where others can comment. (However, for younger students, this might be a can of worms you don't want to open anyway.)
  • The ads from google at the top look like wiki links not ads. It took me a while to figure that one out!

I do see that it has the ability to RSS feeds. RSS feeds on wikis mean one big things for teachers -- easy grading! I grade my wikis through my bloglines accounts. Any changes are sent to bloglines and I can review them there. It is much easier than sorting through and trying to figure out who graded what.

There are some things I like:
  • I like the sidebar on the right that shows the outline of the wiki. I'm not sure if this is automatic or something you have to do. This is a definite plus.
  • I like the use of photos that the students took. I wonder how independently they were able to snap photos and upload?
  • I like the joint project they did for Christmas with a school from Ireland. How exciting! (I wonder if Ewan was involved? His hands are everywhere!)

I think they've done a nice job. What excites me the most is that students bring it home. They see it as a tool. It is relevant to them. In my opinion, wikis bring education home, in more ways than one!

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