Why Wikis?

Dear HTS Community:

Why wikis? At the end of a literary element unit, Mrs. Werner’s class compared and contrasted the plot, setting, characters and theme between the movie and book versions of Hachiko; the true story of a loyal dog that waits at the train station every day for his master, even long after his master has passed away. The story explored the essential question: What is the bond between animals and humans?

Rather than writing individual essays seen only by the writer and teacher, Mrs. Werner’s 6th grade LA students jumped on their class Wiki to post their analysis and then to comment and build their understanding after reading and responding to each other’s answers.  Some samples:

Vivian loved the experience and even volunteered that,”… this is whole lot more fun than writing an essay!”  The literary discussion becomes much richer as Joey comments, “If someone has a great point you can jump right in, rather than waiting to be called on and possible forgetting your idea.”  Carlin felt, “When you put your ideas out on the class Wiki, other students can critique you and when we all put our heads together you get a better understanding of the theme, plot, etc.”   Scott added, “On our Wiki, everyone is talking and commenting at the same time, we understand each other and the discussion doesn’t stop when class is over.”

Mrs. Werner’s and  Ms. Poole’s 7th and 8th Grade classes also use class Wiki’s for discussion, novel based literature circles, online journaling and homework. Ms. Poole initiated the Wiki online journaling last year and has been instrumental in training her HTS colleagues on how to use it. What’s the benefit to learning and what is the result? “The virtual classroom on our Wikis extends the learning beyond our physical classrooms and engages all students and all types of learners. We love it!”  Moreover, Mrs. Werner sees the class Wiki as a valuable tool to enrich literary discussions and support student directed learning. In addition, students are eager to express their thoughts and ideas to each other via the class Wiki and blog.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone*

*with a hat tip to Mrs. Werner and Mrs. Poole.

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