Two fifth grade reading classes in Georgia have put together what I think is a great example of a book study wiki filled with information about the book itself and contextual information including photo slide shows, audio recordings of student performances, interviews and historical reports. The book is Patricia Beatty’s Turn Homeward Hannalee. One thing that I think is especially cool is that the teachers took the time to add their reflections to the site which is a great way for the rest of us to learn and think about how this might work in our own practice:
This project gave the students the opportunity to â€œbecome the teacherâ€ and is a great example of authentic learning. The students immediately took ownership of this project, so I was able to simply facilitate the process. I was pleasantly surprised that everything ran so smoothly even though I had never attempted to create a website on my own or with my students. Since the students were each given a different area to work on they were able to express what they had learned in their own unique way. This activity allowed the students to integrate what they had learned to create something new. Also, it gave the students a confident feeling to see their work in a format that will help other students and teachers learn about the two thousand Georgia mill workers who were shipped north by the Union Army during the Civil War, and the many other historical facts and interesting information from Turn Homeward, Hannalee.
I know I say this a lot, but this is a perfect example of giving our students the opportunity to teach what they have learned. This work now has a chance of becoming a part of other students’ study of not only this book but this part of the state’s history. In Marco Torres’ words, this is work “that has wings.” BTW, the teachers are also looking to get feedback from other educators, students and readers.
Mike Hetherington says
Absolutely incredible. An example of teachers unleashing student potential. This can be a model for similar efforts in social studies, science and math.
This is a great example Will. I was just showing the Wiki to one of our teachers who might be inclined to try something like this. He also asked where he could go on the Internet to find teachers/classes who are looking for or are willing to participate in some collaborative work across borders. I had an idea or two for him, but I am wondering if you have any pointers?
Pam Burke says
Thanks! It’s been a challenge finding great student-created wikis that I can share with my teachers. I needed something like this to get them thinking about how they could do the same. There are plenty of wikis online that don’t yet seem to have come to fruition. These teachers should be really proud.
audrey hill says
THis is GREAT! It’s one of the first really good wikis that I’ve seen. I’m off to do something similar with my students. Thanks for the link.
janet pedersen says
A stellar example of the possibilities of this technology! Thank you so much for the link. It gives me just the inspiration I need to do something like this with my students.
Dean Mattson says
Thanks so much for showing us this example, and congratulations to the teachers and the students that put that together. When I saw it, a big light bulb went off. I’ve read about wikis before of course, but I didn’t really see any application for elementary school students, at least not any that I could do. This one’s not only very well done, but like Janet and Audrey, it has given me the idea that I could do something similar. Wings indeed!
Bill Ferriter says
I actually started a wiki with my students a few months back, wondering whether it would be worthwhile. Turns out, my kids love it and take real pride in their developing version of wikipedia:
But my question is this…I currently have my settings on “protected,” to ensure that only classmates are able to post.
Is that okay? Should I open posting to anyone? From an Internet saftety standpoint, should I close the wiki completely?
Any advice would be appreciated!
PS…Will—your book was the impetus for our work. Thanks for creating something that has so profoundly changed my work.
Wow! I’ve nver even heard of Wiki before but this looks like something I’d love to do with my students.