In the classroom, Pbworks is a free tool that empowers every student to participate in group projects.
James has assigned a team research project. What can he do to encourage the students to work together, share resources and create high quality work?
Write Publish Comment Create Publish Comment Converse Post Ideas Respond Share Edit Collaborate Engage Blog PBworks Three great ways to communicate with students
Teachers often ask: Blog or Wiki? Blogs The term “blog” is short for web log. On Blogs the author writes, readers comment on what has been said. They can also include Links to web sites, other blogs, news articles, or even pictures. Blogs allow students to write, react and share Tutorials Wikis Students can post a lesson summary Collaboration of notes Concept Introduction Sharing of Important information beyond the classroom Individual assessment projects
Blogs Post a Prompt Put a biweekly writing prompt up on the blog and have your students respond to it by a certain day. Ask them to also comment on one of their classmates ideas, drawing a name from a hat or rotating to be sure that all students receive a comment from someone. Foster process writing peer-editing by asking each student to make a suggestion for improvement to content and mechanics (editing) of the other student’s submission. If you use the approval process before allowing student responses to show, you can skim posts to be sure there is nothing cruel or inappropriate. Invite parents to comment back to their elementary children.
The week in Review Appoint a weekly blog team in your elementary classroom to write that week’s blog entry, describing the events of the week in Room XYZ. Invite moms and dads to comment and watch the excitement grow! Soon you will have students begging to write the summaries. Bonus: Those who are at home due to illness will not feel as disconnected from their classroom, a great boon during flu season!
Respond to a reading Practice good reading strategies and check comprehension by asking students to respond to an assigned reading, reflecting on how it applies to their own experience. For example, after reading a non-fiction piece about the McCarthy Era, students could tell about their own experiences with labeling.
Find the facts Post a statement with no supporting facts. Ask students to find facts to support or refute the opinion, using links to reliable web sites and their own persuasive explanations. This could work well for environmental issues, political issues, or any topic that is debatable.
Critique a web site Post a link to a web site related to a topic your are studying and invite students to give their personal evaluation: Does the site show bias? Does it seem well- researched? Is it a reliable source?
Comment on current events Post a link to a current events story and ask students to comment on its implications in your local community or their own lives. Even young students can respond to stories from the local paper’s online pages.
Write a sports story (gr 3-12) Report on a vacation or long weekend (gr 1-12) Post from an “educational trip” (gr 1-12) Role-play a point of view (gr 3-12) “Meet” during snow days and unexpected days off (gr 3- 12) Report on a field trip or virtual field trip (gr 2-12) Write a neighborhood or community tour with pictures (gr 1-12) Bounce around a hot topic (gr 6-12) Make a “suggestion box” blog (gr 2-12) Question blog (gr 2-12) sort of an electronic KWL Chart! Study hint blog (gr 4-12)Give extra credit for study hints posted before a test or quiz. Fitness blog (gr 2-12)Encourage students to post ideas for healthy eating and exercise. Organization tips (gr 4-12)Invite students to share tips for how they stay organized,
Recipes for success (gr 5-12) At the end of a unit, a marking period, or even school year, have students write “recipes for success” in that unit, class, etc. These can remain for others to try in the future. Encourage actual recipe format, including ingredients and procedure. Recipes—for real (gr 4-12) As you study fractions, world languages, or different cultures, nothing is more popular than using recipes. Have your students share one on the class blog then comment if they try one that another student posted. Blog Ice Breaker (gr 6-12) Use student-selected pseudonyms to register your student users (they must tell only you what their secret identity is) and allow them to comment outside of class on hot topics from class discussion for a few weeks. After a few weeks, ask in class if anyone thinks they know who each f the pseudonyms REALLY is and if they can match all pseudonyms to actual classmates. Four Images (gr 6-12) Ask each student to use four images (edited at will) to "sell" or "tell" about himself/herself. Lab research collaboration (gr 7-12) In a high school science class, encourage students to share lab data they found and collaborate in writing up lab reports on the class blog. You can require lab report format, but other lab partners can read and comment on reports they feel are great (or lacking). This also allows students to see the variety of data collected from the class. Continuing Stories (gr 2-12) Start a blog story (set up the setting, characters, and initial situation in an opening paragraph) and let each student who visits comment by adding a sentence or two. Continuing Vocabulary (gr 6-12) Start a blog story at the beginning of the year as you begin vocabulary in your English class. Each week, require students to add to the story, using a LOGICAL sentence that both fits the story and uses one of that week’s vocab words. Find a “Sister Community”(gr 6-12) Just as real communities often form relationships with other towns in other states or countries, your class blog community can set up a direct link with another class blog reading the same play or studying the Civil War at the same time.
What is the difference between a wiki and a blog? A blog, or web log, shares writing and multimedia content in the form of “posts” (starting point entries) and “comments” (responses to the posts). While commenting, and even posting, are open to the members of the blog or the general public, no one is able to change a comment or post made by another. The usual format is post-comment-comment- comment, and so on. For this reason, blogs are often the vehicle of choice to express individual opinions. A wiki has a far more open structure and allows others to change what one person has written. This openness may trump individual opinion with group consensus.
Wiki ideas appropriate for most subjects and grade levels: Study guides made by student groups for themselves and peers: Vocabulary lists and examples of the words in use, contributed by students The wiki as the organizational center -all assignments, projects,collaboration,rubrics etc Products of research projects, especially collaborative group projects: civil war battles, artistic movements, the American electoral process, diseases and prevention, etc. Remember that the products do not have to be simply writing. They can include computer files, images, videos, etc. An annotated collection of EXAMPLES from the non- school world for anything: supply/demand, capitalism, entrepreneurship, triangles, alliterations, vertebrates or invertebrates, etc. Include illustrations wherever possible. What I Think Will Be on the Test wiki: a place to log review information for important concepts throughout the year, prior to taking the “high stakes” test, AP test, or final exam. Students add to it throughout the year and even from year to year.
An “everything I needed to know I learned in Ms.Teachername’s class” wiki where students add their own observations of ways the class knowledge has spilled over into the “real world.” A travelogue from a field trip or NON-field trip that the class would have liked to take as a culmination of a unit of study: Our (non) trip to the Capital and what we (wish) we saw. Articles by students who miss school for family trips, written about their travels on the class wiki, relating what they see to concepts learned before they left: An FAQ (or NSFAQ- Not So Frequently Asked Questions) wiki on your current unit topic. Have students post KWL entries and continue adding questions that occur to them as the unit progresses. As other students add their “answers,” the wiki will evolve into a student-created guide to the topic. Example: Civil War FAQ or Biomes FAQ. You may find that the FAQ process can entirely supplant traditional classroom activities, especially if you seed a few questions as the teacher. This would also depend on whether you have consistent computer access on a daily basis, a luxury many schools do not have.
Science Fair Projects - A wiki could be set up for middle or high school students to brainstorm ideas for and plan science fair projects. Initially it would mostly be brainstorming, posting ideas and information to back them up. As they begin to flesh out the ideas that they are interested in, small groups might form to work on individual projects, but could still contribute ideas to other projects. The teacher can act as a facilitator by offering suggestions and asking probing questions to get students to consider particular aspects in the planning of their projects. The wiki could also be used to record and organize data, and plan eventual papers/presentations. Collaborative Textbooks - From Edutopia (the magazine) for September/October 2004, the article "Crack the Books" (p. 14) describes the California Open Source Textbook Project (COSTP) which is an initiative to create online textbooks using wiki software and then eventually create printed copies. The founder of the project contends that most of the information in K-12 textbooks is in the public domain. The project aims to help California slash its $400 million dollar textbook budget. You can visit the project online at World History TextbookWorld History Textbook Student Portfolios - A wiki makes an easy shell for electronic portfolios where students can display and discuss their work with others. It would also be an excellent forum for peer editing and peer feedback to help students improve their writing skills. WikiOrganization - I used a local wiki on my computer to organize materials for a paper. I was able to save weblinks, documents, and quotes to the wiki and then just go to that particular page as I was writing. Finally, I linked the final product to the wiki. Wikis are a great organizational tool especially in a time when many of our classroom resources are digital and networked. Collaborative Understanding - If I were to teach middle school music again, I would try to use a Wiki as part of a music history/music study project for students to clarify their understanding of different styles of music. For example, back in the day, I had 2 or 3 classes of "beginners" each year. As we listened to different examples of music and of singing, I tried to help them understand how the different styles were related to each other (i.e., blues and hip hop). Using a Wiki would allow them to also share links to examples of music to support their ideas and opinions. I would then try to incorporate this project into one of our choir concerts to show that learning about music is about more than just singing or playing an instrument. (And this is based on the assumption that we would have access to computers in the school, and that the students would be able to use the computers after school if they did not have a computer at home.) Collaboration Between Teachers - The person I'm doing my consulting project with, after seeing our wiki and learning how they work, suggested using them for teachers to teach collaboratively, which is a use I hadn't thought of originally but could have a lot of potential. They could work together creating lesson plans, track how the lessons are being implemented in their various classrooms, give suggestions - this could be a few teachers in the same middle school doing an interdisciplinary unit, or teachers of the same subject in distant places working on the same unit together. Literature Circles in Elementary School - Elementary students, in our district have Lit Circles. They all read the same book and then are required to answer questions about the material and pose questions. A Wiki would be a perfect way to integrate technology into their Lit Circles. Instead of sharing their thoughts on paper, they could post them to the wiki, respond to their peers thoughts or questions and best of all preserve this work for the next class to review at sometime during their exploration of the same novel. Each of our elementary classrooms has at least two computers.
Wiki ideas for math: A calculus wiki for those wicked-long problems so the class can collaborate on how to solve them (a “wicked wiki”?) A geometry wiki for students to share and rewrite proofs (a geometwiki?). What a great way to see the different approaches to the same problem! Applied math wiki: students write about and illustrate places where they actually used math to solve a problem. Procedures wiki: groups explain the steps to a mathematical procedure, such as factoring a polynomial or converting a decimal to a fraction. Pure numbers wiki: student illustrate numbers in as many ways possible: as graphics to count, as mathematical expressions, etc. Elementary students can show graphic illustrations of multiplication facts, for example.
Wiki ideas for science: A student- made glossary of scientific terms with illustrations and definitions added by the class (using original digital photos or those from other online Creative Commons sources, such as Flickr). Linking to separate pages with detailed information would allow the main glossary list to remain reasonably short. A taxonomy of living things with information about each branch as you study Biology over a full year. Designs of experiments (and resulting lab reports) for a chemistry class. Observations from field sites, such as water-testing in local streams, weather observations from across your state, or bird counts during migratory season. Collaborate with other schools. Detailed and illustrated descriptions of scientific processes: how mountains form, etc. A physics wiki for those wicked-long problems so the class can collaborate on how to solve them (a “wicked wiki”?).
Wiki ideas for social studies: A mock-debate between candidates, in wiki form (composed entirely based on research students have done on the candidate positions). A collaborative project with students in another location or all over the world: A day in the life of an American/Japanese/French/Brazilian/Mexican family. (This one would require finding contacts in other locations, of course). A collection of propaganda examples during a propaganda unit. Detailed and illustrated descriptions of governmental processes: how a bill becomes a law, etc. A “fan club” for your favorite president(s) or famous female(s). A virtual tour of your school as you study “our community” in elementary grades. A local history wiki, documenting historical buildings, events, and people within your community. Include interviews with those who can tell about events from the World War II era or the day the mill burned down, etc. Allow adult community members to add their input by signing up for “membership” in the wiki. This project could continue on for years and actually be a service to the community. Perhaps the area historical society would provide some assistance, if you can get them to think beyond the closed stacks of their protected collections! A document-the-veterans wiki for those in your community who served in the military. Interview them and photograph them, including both their accounts and your students’ documentation and personal reflections on the interviews. A travel brochure wiki: use wikis to “advertise” for different literary, historical, or cultural locations and time periods: Dickens’ London, fourteenth century in Italy in Verona and Mantua ( Romeo and Juliet), The Oklahoma Territory, The Yukon during the Gold Rush, Ex-patriot Paris in the Twenties, etc.
Teachers often ask: Blog or Wiki? Blogs Sarah Plain and Tall Summer Reading CampSummer Reading Camp To Build a Fire Wikis Fractions Crayons Float What is it? Carbon Fighters Stay Current
“It's so easy to create a site to help guide students along with projects. I have found that it's a good way to make handouts available to students - I just point them at the web address. I post links to my PBworks Rockford's site so that parents can access project guidelines as well.” Justin Wylie Rockford High School
How can she make certain her online site is off limits to child predators? How can she be sure that her students won’t be drawn onto the web? Mary wants to be sure her students are protected from the wider internet.
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Jamie wants to make certain her students act appropriately on line. Will her students write offensive comments? How can she monitor her students activity?
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