Sunday, June 20, 2010

wikis ... wikis ... wikis

While I was at an elementary school last week helping teachers with their new websites, one teacher showed me the ways she uses the wikis she has created. Christy used to teach in a school where there were 8 Kindergarten teachers, so it was not possible for all of them to have a common planning time. In order to find a way to collaborate, they used a wiki to share ideas and create lesson plans together. On this wiki, the theme of the week is posted at the top of the page. The headings on the page match the different parts of the lesson plans (guided practice, phonics, independent practice, small group, ...). Teachers in the group can fill in what activities, lessons, and materials they are using to accomplish the part of the lesson for that certain theme. For example, teachers can list what books they are using for the "read aloud" times that week. I think I would like being able to see what other teachers are doing and/or what materials/resources they are using to teach the same types of lessons. Just think of all the ideas and resources that can be shared this way.

Christy also uses a wiki for parents and other volunteers to sign up for times to help with the class. She posts days and times when she needs help (like Parent Readers on Fridays, Writing Center Help, ...), and then people (mostly parents ... she really encourages dads to volunteer) sign up by putting their names in the appropriate slots. If a volunteer signs up for a time and then realizes he or she can't make it, the name can be deleted so someone else can sign up. Christy also mentioned that she posts class supply needs on the wiki as well. There is also a space for parents to sign up to send items for "celebrations" (class parties). To promote the use of this wiki, any time a parent asks how they can help with the class or what items they can send to help, Christy asks for them to check the wiki. I thought this was a really way to do some parent-teacher communication. Part of a PTA Parent Night could be used to show parents how to access and participate with these wikis.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard a high school teacher talking about a Social Studies wiki that she visits almost everyday. I found out the Social Studies Department for the school system set up a wiki. They told teachers to post to that wiki anytime they found a good lesson or materials to support a certain topic. The teacher I talked to is the only one who teaches Social Studies at her small school, so she was excited to be able to share and collaborate with people who taught the same subject. She said that she was always getting ideas from and adding ideas to the site.

I have used wikis in elementary school for a writing project and other research projects, but I had not thought about how wikis could be used in these ways to help teachers at any level.
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