Despite its name, the Elementary Library Routines wiki is a great resource for librarians working at all levels. Created by Keisa Williams (CA), Catherine Trinkle (IN), Regina Hartley (OK) and Jamie Camp (TX), this wiki is a place where librarians from all over the US share ways that they are doing things in their libraries. Although the focus is on elementary, many of these ideas could be adapted for use with older students. There are sections for routines, administration, curriculum, and promotion, as well as funny things that have happened in the library. The next time you are trying to re-invent the wheel and come up with a better way to do something, check it out.
In this session, two high school English teachers presented the way that they used a wiki to encourage their students to read.
Goals for their free reading project were for students to read good young adult literature, enjoy it and discuss it, just like people do in the real world.
Step 1. Booktalk good books for kids to read. These teachers worked with their librarian and selected lots of good books to recommend to their students. They used YALSA and TLA booklists, such as Best Books for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Teens’ Top Ten and Tayshas. Students went to the library as a class and heard booktalks about a few of the books that had been recommended for them to read.
Step 2. Students complete signpost projects. These were simple projects that students could do to mark their progress as they read. There were several choices of projects – most using technology. Directions for these mini-projects can be found on the Warriors Read wiki.
Step 4. Product. After completing their reading, students had to do a final product. Choices were book trailers, book posters, or a booktalk via podcast. Any digital products were uploaded to the wiki for all students to access.
These teachers chose a wiki to house the content for this project for several reasons. Wikis allow for multiple contributors. All teachers of a subject or grade level can monitor and contribute to a wiki. Students can contribute too!
The Wikispaces discussion tab was another reason for using that particular wiki. Students used it to engage in meaningful discussions about their books any time, any place. That meaningful discussion was one of their goals from the outset.
The fact that students’ digital work was posted for everyone to see really inspired them to do their best.
Collaborative groups meeting electronically don’t have to worry about transportation or scheduling issues.
A wiki enlarges the classroom by providing access to materials, instructions and multimedia all the time, everywhere.
Some tips for the successful implementation of a wiki with students:
Plan the organization of the wiki before you create it
Create student accounts yourself.
Develop a system for grading.
Post directions for activities on the site
Teach netiquette before you begin
Other ideas for using wikis:
Current events discussions
Post an article or link to an article and have students read it and post their own reactions
Have students post links to news stories they find interesting or relevant. Students can view and comment on each other’s posts
Research and link collecting
In groups or individually, students find and post links to reliable articles or websites for a research unit
Students post thoughts as they read a novel
Virtual Book Club
Students “meet” online and discuss the book
Links, articles, pictures – anything about the book can be posted to the wiki
Brainstorming and prewriting
Students discuss essay topics BEFORE they write. They see their own thoughts as well as the thoughts of their classmates, allowing them to struggle with the ideas before they face the blank page.
Provide a story starter (or have students start one)
Students add to/comment on/continue the story
Anything students can create digitally can be uploaded and shared with wiki viewers
Documents and multimedia can be “handed in” electronically
Spread information about your classroom, club or project
Not for emergency use, but you can put a PowerPoint or post links so students can get the best of you even when you’re not there
This session was based on the bestseller, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Tapscott and Williams, and emphasized how allowing students to collaborate on projects locally and globally increases their learning. The presenters shared that the last chapter of the book is actually on a wiki.
The powerpoint and other information for the session can be found on the wiki created for the presentation.
One of the presenters is the founder of globalschoolnet.org, a non-profit organization that supports teachers using technology for collaborative projects. Some of the ways that she suggested that collaborative technologies could impact learning are:
flexbooks – wiki versions of textbooks that could be easily update
co-created content where students work in teams to solve a problem or create something
blended learning spaces where some time is spent in face to face learning and some time is spent with online learning
Several collaborative tools were discussed also.
It is easy to see the value of having students collaborate and write for an authentic audience of their peers.
A recent post on the AASL blog has me thinking about pathfinders today. You know what pathfinders are, right? Those lists of resources that librarians make for every research project that is done in the library. The author of the post wonders if we aren’t sending students mixed messages when we talk about how they need to learn searching strategies and then be able to evaluate the information they find, but turn right around and hand them a list of “approved” resources to use. Why should they bother to learn anything about searching or evaluating information when they know that we’re going to tell them where to find the stuff they need? In a world of infoglut, I’m not sure that we are doing them any favors.
The author also mentions that she has started using a wiki site for her pathfinders and allowing teachers and students to help in their creation. Joyce Valenza has blogged about this idea also. While I love the collaborative aspect of all stakeholders contributing to a wiki pathfinder, I’m wondering now – are we leading our students down the wrong path? Post your thoughts in the comments.