Vicki Davis -- CoolCatTeacher

Well, I signed up for a free wikispace at wikispaces.com and began to train my students how to use wikispaces. I did a simple project -- I gave my computer science students six words to define using resources on the net so that they could understand the emerging concept of Web 2.0. I split them into teams of 2-3 students and gave them each a word to investigate. You can see our space at http://westwood.wikispaces.com/Web+2.0
I gave them several guidelines:
  1. I asked them to post meaningful, relevant information on their topic.
  2. I asked them to summarize information they found on the Net and to link to it.
  3. I asked them to continue to read their topic and ask themselves -- "What do I not understand about this topic?" and then to proceed to answer that question and post their findings.
  4. I asked them to use some of the websites that they read about.
  5. They were not allowed to delete information of another unless it was redundant or they paraphrased/edited it to make it better. (I had two classes working on the same pages so they could experience true collaboration.)
  6. On the third day, I gave each team 5 minutes to present their topic -- they had to summarize and demonstrate the use of their term in action.
  7. At the conclusion of the presentation, I asked all students to post a comment on the page providing feedback or asking questions. (This was just to introduce them to the feature and to keep them focused on the task at hand.)
I must say, I was very impressed with the presentations and the grasp of knowledge the students had. They understood the concept of Web 2.0 and their topics with a knowledge base that was astounding. But the true surprise came the next day.

I wanted to create an authentic assessment as to their understanding of the use of wikipages to collaborate. For their quiz, I asked them to create a page with a partner of their choosing, that would help them study for an exam or complete a project in the next week. (See the links to these on http://westwood.wikispaces.com/Westwood+wikilinks+page.)

I must say that I was impressed with the biology page. I also was quite pleased with their review material of the Scarlet Letter, King Lear, and their English Exam Review. They have several other projects that are really great. But my amazement came afterwards as I walked through the halls. Two girls attracted my attention with their squealing -- I asked what was up with them -- They were squealing about the English material going on the wikipage! It was going to help them on their project! They were so excited. They practically drove me crazy the rest of the day getting passes to come in and update the information for their exams and projects. Other teachers started coming to me and asking what was going on. They couldn't believe the amount of material synthesized and summarized in one class period!

My last period class heard from the others about the "do it yourself" project and then came the most astounding idea of all -- the 10th grade study hall! http://studyhall.wikispaces.com/
(Don't ask me how we got such a great domain -- I'm not sure.)

They created a place to post projects and assignments and invited each other to their wikispace. Then, they created links to the websites that their fellow students had created to help them study/ review/ complete the project. They are used to copying notes for one another -- but now they can collaborate on notes! The results are astonishing!

This is what is most amazing -- the buzz in the hall with students talking excitedly about King Lear, the Scarlett Letter, the poetry project, the History project, and what other information they need to post to help! The buzz from the teachers -- I now have to teach an in service on January 2nd. And it is Friday night and at 2:26 this afternoon, my students updated the Study Hall on their own (they created this on Thursday.)

I lie exhausted on the couch at the end of this week. Wiki Wiki Teaching is an understatement. I feel fulfilled. I feel excited. I feel that I've unknowingly introduced students to their future. I feel that the material has become relevant in a way that has not been done before. I changed my semester assessment to a wiki project. Other teachers are planning assessments next semester to include wiki portfolios. It has been one week! It went by wiki wiki!