Just when you think you have learned the coolest thing ever, along comes Thing #15: Wikis. I have heard this term thrown around for awhile now in the education world, but I never took the time to investigate what it is really all about. I just thought it was an online encyclopedia where anyone could add any information, regardless of truth, and it was out there for the public to see.
Just like with MySpace, I was partially informed, but nowhere near the truth, not even close to showing me the usefulness of a Wiki. The biggest gain in knowledge I walked away with is the positive and negative aspect that All users/browsers are authors of that particular Wiki. Your first thought is all of the negative things that could come from this, but isn't that true with anything? I just listened to Brett Favre talking about all of his records: most touchdowns, most yards, most games played, and MOST INTERCEPTIONS. When asked about the later, he stated, "I guess you can't hold all the good records." But he goes on to talk about how many of those touchdowns he threw would never have been touchdowns if he didn't take the chance. I think the same holds true to Wikis. We will never know the possibilities if we do not give them a try. We can always troubleshoot the problems as they cross our path.
My thoughts of how I would use a Wiki came easier than I thought. Now that my classes are reading Bluebonnet books year-round, I thought a Bluebonnet Wiki would be a great way to communicate about the books they are reading. If you think about it, twenty books a year, mostly chapter books, is a lot. Many of these books do not get read, but if the students had access to a wiki journal about these books, one from the past just might get read again.
I also would like to create a Wiki for my younger classes to talk about the Mockingbird books they are reading. I am also planning on handling Mockingbird books the same way I handle my Bluebonnet program because many of them were too young to appreciate, if they even heard, all of the previous Mockingbird books.
Along with these two, I thought a site for teachers to add any lesson ideas they thought of to go along with these two book lists would come in handy.
My next goal is to create a Galloway Elementary Library Research Wiki just like Sue Wood did for Smith Elementary. I like how organized it keeps your information, and I know the students will enjoy it.
As far as long term, I thought I might create a Mesquite Abydos Learning International Wiki for all the teachers that have taken this staff development. This was formerly New Jersey Writing Project in Texas, and is the six hour college writing course I
co-teach each summer. The teachers are always looking for ways to get together and share ideas, ask questions, and visit about how writing is going in their classrooms. Like the video noted, e mail is too difficult to share with a large audience, plus we never have time to get together in person. A Wiki would be the perfect solution to this dilemma.
By far, I think this Thing will impact my teaching the most, in all aspects of my professionalism.