Recently someone asked for wikis to share in a wiki presentation, and thinking about how to explain mine, I decided it would be easier just to blog about them.
The first one I’d show is Potatoes, Pumpkins and Plenty More which is a wiki fourth graders put together to make their learning transparent to the classroom teachers while reading a couple of Megan McDonald’s books. The setting of both books is the early 1900’s and both books begin with grandpa telling the grandson and granddaughter a story of when he was young. The story ends with a set-up for the next book and the kids clamoring for the story, but grandpa says something like “Not now. That’s another story for another day.”
When I asked the kids if they wanted to make a wiki based on these books, they immediately wanted to write the third story in the series, which Ms. McDonald never published. So some began composing while others immediately went to the wiki and began making new pages. Two students began creating a dictionary page for The Potato Man and when two others saw that, they asked if they could then do one for The Great Pumpkin Switch. Of course I said yes. Without prompting, kids created an author page, a character page, and then an opinions page showed up!
But the most incredible thing to me were the stories the 4th graders wrote. The stories were filling up this wiki, though, and so we decided to move them to a separate wiki and connect that one to this one. One student’s Lucky Penny story amazingly captured Megan McDonald’s style and even set up yet a fourth story at the end of her writing! Thus another wiki, the Brown Box Stories was born. Another student went down a different path and suggested yet another connected wiki, the one called Plenty More. A great piece of this work for all of the students was the amount of self direction and creativity they showed.
Wiki #2 is one I created as part of a collaborative lesson these same fourth grade teachers and I planned together. The name of this one is “When is an estimate close enough?” In this one, I wrote up the lesson we planned to do together and set up additional pages for them to use later when back in their classrooms. On the resources page is an estimation calculator that is fabulous! There are also videos about how to estimate in specific situations. It’s worth showing a teacher-created wiki.
And, wiki #3 would be either Nicolas’s wiki, specifically his iPad Review pages or the Crozet LED Kids wiki, specifically the report pages from each group. Nicolas is a self-directed learner who “gets” social media and how important the connecting piece of that is. One could spend hours studying the work he has done on his wiki in the two years he’s had it, and the quality is pretty sophisticated for a young man who wrote it as an 11 and 12 year old. This is an independently designed and created wiki.
The Crozet LED kids shared the process they followed while participating in a contest that was aimed at middle and high school kids where they were the only elementary kids designing an LED project. The honesty and the forthrightness is refreshing and they clearly understood how to show what they know. It’s about making learning transparent and sharing.
Kids truly never cease to amaze me. Their willingness to work hard on stuff that matters, to share their thinking and to support each other to create quality work is simply astonishing to watch and support.