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Using Wikis to Foster Authenticity in Middle School Writing: The Introduction

Written by Kaili Phillips
March 27, 2011

The All-Important Introduction:

I wrote the following blog entry after a lesson designed to teach students how to access and use TAMSapedia on their own. After a brief introduction to what a wiki is and how we’d use ours, students looked for very specific “how-to” sorts of information through a webquest before adding their latest writing piece to their own page. They had fun and, most importantly, every student knew how to upload files, edit pages, and navigate the site at the end of the hour.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My kids have gone wiki-crazy!!!

It’s the first day introducing the wiki to the kids and they are EATING IT UP. They love being able to see their work online (published) as well as see their friends’ work from other classes. They were very engaged (as engaged as 8th grade gets??) while doing a bit of a exploring and note-taking on how to use the site.

A very steep learning curve occurred during my first block when two kids got ahead of themselves and began editing my wiki homepage while the page was on the Smartboard and I was teaching the lesson. It was actually VERY funny and a nice illustration of how everyone can see the history on every page of the site. The kids were a little embarrassed…good thing they didn’t write anything inappropriate!!

Highs from the day:

  • One student told me that this was so cool that he wanted to make one. I asked him what he was going to use for and he said that he didn’t know but he’d find something.
  • Students posted compliments on work done by peers that they typically wouldn’t interact with in class too much.
  • A student asked me if I would put up a page for myself so they could look at my writing (Yes, I intend to do this)
  • Students had MANY “ah-ha” moments of what a wiki is and what Wikipedia is (why it’s unreliable for research purposes but okay for the occasional “Google”)
  • A student put up a piece she wrote for Social Studies (Yay for interdisciplinary use!)

Lows from the day:

  • A student asked me if she “had to” put her work up
  • Not being able to figure out how to block students from being able to manage the wiki (still working on this one)