Tuesday, April 8, 2008

921-Session 11-Dissecting Wikis

Someone from class asked for more information on how to get the 'double-click on any word and then get its definition' feature, so if you are interested you may visit: http://www.teachers.answers.com/main/bloggers.jsp for more information.

I thought a lot about how to address this session and decided to stray from the usual presentation format and teach this session entirely from the blog. I believe that it is always easier to 'show' instead of 'tell,' so the bulk of this session will be spent watching videos that will help clarify the nuances and details that make a wiki such a powerful tool--as well as address the topics laid out in the syllabus: new literacies, wiki benefits, and wiki drawbacks.

Now, just be aware that there is some redundancy in these clips, so feel free to fast-forward through parts that you have already seen.

Let's start with a clip from one of the many companies that offer free wikis for you to use. This one is from PBwiki.com. They claim that making a wiki on their site is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich. Please keep notes while watching these.

I hope you liked that one. This next video focuses upon how collaboration really works. It is a good transition from our last session on Collective Intelligence.

So naturally, these 'beg the question' about ease of use. Is it really as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich? Well let's take a look at an explanation.

And this one shows you how wikis can help educators educate.

And lastly, we'll address the underlying issue all educators have about using Web 2.0 tools in education----SECURITY.

Now, in the 21st century, it doesn't take long before the major technology giants latch onto any and all good ideas from the small start-ups. So Google has jumped on the 'wiki bandwagon' and created their own variation. They call it 'Google Documents' and the details can be accessed from the link below. Please visit this site and take the online tour. While you are there jot down your ideas and thoughts to aid you in your post-session comments.

You'll immediately notice the similarities between wikis and this new Google tool. Those teachers from the Math and Science areas will find the spreadsheet component particularly interesting.

Google Documents & Spreadsheets

Now, before your head spins off from all the possibilities, I want you to take a break. When you come back we'll take a look at this 4-part online video course, created by the University of Wisconson-Milwaukee. It addresses some of the benefits and drawbacks of wikis. The great thing about it is that it is self-pacing and asynchronous just like this course. Again, I would like to remind you to take notes as you progress through these tutorials, so that you may post quality comments and insights when you have completed everything this week. If you feel part 1 is redundant then please skip forward to 2, 3, & 4.

University of Wisconson-Milwaukee

I hope you enjoyed the variety in this session's presentation and I would like to end this week's posting with a reminder that Deliverable 3 should be posted under Session 12's blog posting (after Spring Break), as well as on the wiki.

Thank you and as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Donna McMullin said...

I found the folks in the PBWiki videos just a tad misleading in their testimonies. The real strengths of PB Wiki, I think, are not the ease of use and hyperlinking abilities. Those features are standard in any wiki or web editor for that matter. The real benefits of PB Wiki are 1) having complete access for you and your students to free server space for web posting without advertisements, 2) the ability to have accounts for students without students having to have an email account of their own, and of course, 3) the obvious ability to collaborate on a single document.

The videos did not mention that teachers can upgrade their wikis to the Plus version for free through an email request. PBWiki will upgrade your account and remove all advertising from educational wikis. They will also establish student accounts without having to submit an email address for each student.

We have an requirement in our district that before we can post student work, parents must sign a copyright release form in effect transferring copyright of the student work over to the school district. That would be tough to do with a wiki unless we had parents sign a blanket release for all wiki posting.

I like PB Wiki and have a PBWiki account but I thought the PBWiki promos were condescending and repetitive. There was too much cutting and pasting of clips since many segments were repeated throughout the videos no matter what the subject of the video. The repeating was starting to get on my nerves!!

I have no concerns about wikis for creative writing of any kind -- personal reflections or manuals, handbooks, curriculum, etc. -- but I do think about adding non-fiction content to a wiki without attribution. I’m a librarian – I worry about these things 

Most Wikipedia articles require sources have “references” included at the end of the article. Dave, do you know if adding a reference is required by contributors after each update? Who checks the update against the reference? I have a problem with adding non-fiction content that is not “common knowledge” to any collaborative document without some type of citation or reference.

Ms. Dawn Manchester said...

I found the PB Wiki videos exciting and went right to work, but I have to tell you I didn't feel all that successful :(. I haven't been able to truly work on it for an extended amount of time, however I did give it some extended effort the first time around. I don't think I was in the mood to get caught in cyberspace the night I was playing and should have stepped away sooner than I did. I will go back and try again soon. In the meantime does anyone have any helpful hints to make it easier next time? Thanks

ClareO said...

It sounds like Donna has a lot more experience with wikis than I do, that's for sure. I agree with her comment about the repetitiveness of the clips. It was a bit grading after a while. I went on pbwiki to try it out and I did find it very easy to use. I tried out google documents and I felt very confused about how to navigate it. I think if I was going to choose one to use with my class it would be pbwiki. I didn't know about the other benefits Donna mentioned and that is really more appealing to me as well. Our district does not have any rules about posting work to the web, so I don't think that I would have any district issues with that. I find the whole wiki thing a really neat idea. My media specialist was not as enthusiastic about it, she doesn't like the idea of some things being posted that aren't completly accurate. I told her about being able to go back to a previous version of the wiki when that happens, still not convinced. It does make for good lunch room discussions! I think we all have our comfort level, and that is hers. I am thinking of some ways to use the wiki for an assignment for next year. I don't think I am as ready to jump into the wiki as I felt with the blog. I think the wiki will take some time for me to feel comfortable with before I can have my students use it. I am definately going to try it in September after I have had the summer to play around with it.

MDavis said...

The PB Wiki firm and other similiar organizations have the right idea, getting us hooked and
participating and front-loading their product for future development and licensing rights. One of the concerns that initially came up in the open-source movement was whether it would become a platform for testing new products, making them more friendly and hack-proof, then putting them out on the market. I would liken it to the workshops we've all attended where you feel like the presenter is just using the discussion or your thoughts as development and research for their
upcoming publication. In the end, we all benefit from these things, but there is an element of you that feels cheated or mislead. I guess, I don't mean to seem cynical, but the videos gave me
the impression that the focus was on selling the product and not the pure goals for an educator. Regardless, it's an interesting discussion place, and I would like to try it for myself to give a
more informed opinion.

I was also pleased with the latter half of this session's inclusions. University of Wisconsin (I
believe you meant Madison) has been a recognized leader in newer literacy strategies especially
in the education field. Two of my friends and co-teachers are former Badgers and have spoken highly of their Center for INstructional Materials and Computing (CIMC) resource (http://cimc.education.wisc.edu/). Their IDEAS website (http://www.ideas.wisconsin.edu/index.cfm) is also an amazing resource of collaboration, especially with technology (Note: many of the lesson plan ideas and podcasting is free, without having to sign in).

Jennifer said...

I was so happy to have this session online in the blog rather than having to download it. The presentation software for a Mac that translates powerpoint crashes every time I try to open a link. If the ultimate goal is to make this kind of work accessible to everyone, every effort should be made to make all information available cross-platform. That's why the web 2.0 technology is so great. You don't have to worry about whether or not you can open someone else's document, or visa versa. It is just all there.

I checked out google documents in a futile attempt to find something unblocked. It wouldn't work at school, but my rowing team needs a way to share spreadsheets of our finances. For now we've just been attaching them to our wiki, but maybe google spreadsheets could work. I don't know how similar it is to a wiki--would we be able to link to them from our wiki?

On Monday I guest-taught a session of methods class that the Brown MAT's take in the summer before student teaching. We got into a discussion about wikipedia. They all hate it, but I reminded them they are looking at wikipedia from the point of view of some of the most educated people in the world. They have a hard time conceiving of someone who would have so little background knowledge that something easy to access like wikipedia can be really useful. I also reminded them that wikipedia represents everything we want in our classrooms: it is democratic, collaborative, requires you to evaluate information and seek the "truth." Of course it isn't appropriate to use at Brown for research (but I would also point out, neither is using any encyclopedia at that level), but as I always have to remind Brown student teachers: high school is not little college.

We've been using Wiggins and McTighe for a long time at Brown in the methods class, so it was nice to see that old friend. Even before I did session 12 I was trying to gather sources for deliverable 3 and my husband reminded me of its pertinence for web 2.0 stuff. I've only used it in the past to teach teachers about backwards planning.

I don't know if I am the only one concerned about the time left to do the rest of the work for this course. We have ten days from today, not two weeks to complete two major assignments. When do we view and comment on the projects if they are due the last day of the semester? Usually I manage time well, but it seems like we had a couple weeks in the middle with less to do, and now everything is due at once.

I guess I sound like the kids.

msaunders said...

I also found the PB Wiki video clips redundant and not very helpful. However, I am enjoying the PB Wiki that I put together for use with my brothers and sisters in preparation for a family gathering we are having here next month. I only sent it to them yesterday and already I am getting changes to the wiki and suggestions for our activities during the gathering. It is marvelous fun and very easy to do. One caveat: I now have high-speed access at home. Last week, I couldn’t edit the PB wiki here at home, only read it. I could access HTML type editing tools, but not the easy, intuitive ones I use now that I have high-speed access. Therefore, if I were ever to use it with a class, I would make sure that each group had at least one member with easy high-speed access at home or I would try to allow sufficient class time for the project.
Jennifer, I have been using Google documents to keep log student choices for summer reading as the email their changes. That way I always know which is the latest version. I also used Google documents to “publish” the summer reading list on my summer reading blog. Once you have a document in Google docs, just click on the button on the right that says, “Publish.” That will give you a URL. If you limit the rights to the document, then anyone with the URL could see it, but only those with rights could alter it. If the document should be private and you are linking to it from a private blog or wiki, I (perhaps naively) think that no one else is likely to stumble upon the URL. This next school year in our library I plan to post a sign touting the benefits of using Google Docs for students who lack printers or Microsoft Word/Excel at home. Unfortunately, they will still need Internet access. Alas, some lack that as well.
I found the tutorial on Wikipedia by John Hubbard, librarian at the U. Wisconsin at Madison exceptionally valuable and worth the time it took to listen. I have know that I need to spend some time on the site and get to know it well since it is frequently used by our students. I agree that it is best to use it as one would use an encyclopedia and definitely NOT as a principal source of information. I will keep in mind John Hubbard’s point that the most recent entry on some subjects may reflect the “tyranny of the most persistent.” I also found of interest the fact that Wikipedia has to struggle with alternative wording for subject headings just as librarians have traditionally done for their catalogs.
Finally, I am a bit depressed that I cannot think of any topic for which I have unique knowledge on a topic that would be of benefit to the Wikipedia project.

Pam B said...

Dissecting Wikis

Wikis really should make educators rethink the way things are currently done in the classroom and the way things are in the “real world.” In last weeks reading, Will Richardson observed that in all likelihood students would be expected to work with others collaboratively when they enter the world of work. Yet in our current educational system we still primarily ask students to work independently. As I watched the PBWiki videos, I was reminded how wikis can serve as a tool to help our students collaborative using what Richardson also refers to as the Read/Reflect/Write/Participate web. Some of the ideas from the PBWiki video clips included the idea that a group of people can work together to generate ideas. Unlike school where a project is often completed once the grade is given, a wiki allows people to continue to work on projects. Things are not ever necessarily “done.” Wikis allow peer feedback. Reflection is the heart of learning. Having an online conversation is a shift in the way we’ve done things previously.

Yet for the promises of wikis, there are still things as educators we must consider. Wikis can be easily vandalized and inappropriate content can be easily added. Information may not always be reliable or accurate, but that can be said of any information really. Anyone can contribute, so the level of knowledge of the contributor can be vastly different, As a result, wikis are places where genuine data both exists and does not exist at the same time. When we consider wikis and specifically Wikipedia, I agreed with the comment that Wikipedia can be a source of current information. However, sometimes it can serve as rumor mill as well. Again, it’s important to always remember to consider accuracy and reliability. Wikipedia content may not be appropriate for schools either. Educators must consider language and the possibility of nudity as well. Wikis also don’t have a clear organizational structure. I found it interesting to discover what often goes on behind the scenes on the discussion pages. While Wikipedia articles are supposed to have a neutral point of view, without the firm rules, it sometimes becomes politically charged. Yet Wikipedia is a presence on the web and in our world. It is sometimes cited by the mainstream media as a source and is approximately 10x bigger than Britannica.

One of the comments I appreciated in the PBWiki videos was the idea of digital citizenship. As teachers we have always taught students what it means to be a good citizens. In addition to what we’ve taught them before, we need to consider what it means to be a good digital citizen.

Finally, I spent a little time exploring Google documents. I tried uploading a Word document, but the one I selected lost most of the formatting. I did see how it would be possible to publish and share the document with others. I think I can see an advantage in sharing documents this way. Wikis allow you to edit the content of the web page, but it would be much more difficult to actually edit a document. It appears that Google.docs allow you to see revisions of what you’ve done and similar to the history in a wiki, revert to earlier revisions. I have spent a little time recently exploring PBWiki and it looks like they are making it easier to edit some documents as well. You can now embed spreadsheets directly in your PBwiki. A beta version will allow you to share Word documents through PBwiki. Unfortunately at this point in time, there isn’t a Mac version and they are not sure if Mac will be supported.

Robin Shtulman said...

Dave --
I want to heartily echo Jennifer's comment that the accessibility of this session's material (no Powerpoint) was a wonderful thing!

Robin Shtulman said...

This week's information has definitely gotten me over my roadblocks. I'm ready to wiki!

In the "collaboration" video, Kathleen Ferenz talked about reflection being at the heart of learning. Yes! Kids, just like adults, need time to ruminate, to let new ideas and information soak in and weave within what they already know. Some people are able to make immediate connections, and they get a lot of positive attention in school. Teaching tools that allow for more time, for kids to respond when they are ready, really speak to different learning styles and may lead to more positive feelings about school. I think this is a major plus.

pwestkott said...

Sharing their thoughts about the effectiveness of pbwiki, one comment (Jennifer, I think) that has stayed with me is while "reflection is the heart of learning...feedback keeps it going." That seems to be the essence of collaboration or collective learning.

Pam B., I too, considered the need for "digital citizenship". We begin our year in the primary grades developing citizenship in our classrooms. This strand continues throughout the year as we examine what it means within our units of study. Digital citizenship is simply another layer to add into our thinking and practice.

Presently, our district like others, requires parents and students to sign a contract for using technology in an appropriate way. It fits with our mission to keep students safe, to make sound decisions for their own security.

I think a next step might be to revise our school/district wide policy for students, parents and staff to adopt. We'll need to collaboratively decide, "What does it mean to be a digital citizen?" The ultimate goal will be to help students decide what they will do when they meet dilemmas as they are working independently.

The series of videos from UWM were comprehensive, from the 5 rules of Engagement through the pros and cons of Wikipedia. I wonder if the desenters believe published sources are most reliable because to accept something else requires a shift in their thinking - a holistic view that any source might be wrong. Or is it that they believe Wikipedia seems to reflect cultural influences over historical significance. Hmmm...

I must admit that the idea of going into an article in Wikipedia and add my own edit is intimidating to me. Mary, I can identify with your comment about not being sure in what I'm an expert. Maybe we feel that way because we are always learning. Okay, I'm comfortable with acknowledging that. It's okay to never be finished!

Dave Fontaine said...

This ends the comments and reflections from EDC921 Summer '07 participants.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Casey

Before I post I just want to say that most of my thoughts have already been voiced by the summer class. I agree that PBWiki videos were, well, selling PB! And although they talked alot about the great projects there was no link to them. I do think it sounds like a very good service, though.

I also have Mac problems and have to bring up various links at work on my PC. I agree that everything should work for Macs as well. I did note in my comments as I was taking notes that I was very happy to use the blog as our class venue. The summer class is apparently very sophisticated, and most seem to work with a higher level student population than mine. Lastly, I too feel like I haven't had the time to "play", so to speak, with everything I've learned. I'm planning to do so after the class ends and I will have evenings free to design and make mistakes before I bring a project into the classroom. Luckily I am a librarian, and so I can continue the project with my students as I have them for years.

Scenes from my notes: What exactly did PB mean when they called web pages "static" (I've heard this reiterated on many links and video pieces in this class). I thought HTML meant "hyper text" mark up language, meaning that you click on a word and it takes you to another page somewhere. In fact I remember educators complaining that you could click into deep cyberspace and forget what you were originally looking for! And now, web pages are soooo old fashioned. Hilarious! Some venues fit a web 2.0 and some should not be interactive, and the existence of two different web sources doesn't cancel the other out! It's just more choice.

Wondering about the sign in on a wiki. If we have a class password I cannot identify a vandal. Would every parent agree to an email address, even if it's gmail or a free host? Don't think so, not here.

Google - is there anything they don't turn their hand to? Wonder what Mr. Gates makes of their free excel. Here's an I wonder: What if Google makes office type software free online? What happens to software giants then?

I know wikis are collaborative but students constantly do collaborations, this is not a new concept, only a new place to use them. Look at Aubry the sock puppet; look at what the UMW professor showed about vandalsm on wiki sites. Some vandals do not get tired of vandalizing. How nice to have a large amount of contributors, like Wikipedia, to correct this, but we teachers are a company of one, and responsible for online, ONLINE projections of our student's work. Can you devote the time to protecting your work? I think for myself anyway that I need to see in practice how much actual vandalism takes place. I will have them sign something like the blogger's contract, only make it a wiki contract and put a signature line for the parents too, perhaps attached to our acceptable use policy.

I think wikis would make a great intranet, like a bulletin, also a great site for suggestions for professional development.

I think I am going to show google docs to the math teacher. It might make a great math project!

And lastly, I don't mind my students using wikipedia. Like any site, even worldbookonline, I advise them to go to a few more sites, books, etc. because no source is infallible.

Reading blog said...

I did enjoy the powerpoint this week. But, I could not access the second to last powerpoint. The sixty minute presentation.
With all these tools out there, I feel that we should be doing more. It will take time, like Lisa said to play around with the tools before assigning an assignment. I will need to talk to the tech. person in the district to see if my students could gain access to a class blog. If they can use wikipedia I don’t see why they couldn’t access a blog. I have also realized through this journey that wikipedia is not all bad. Like any other websites students should be finding other resources and validating their work. It is a great website to use on validating information on the web.
The chapter in the book this week discussed students having a purpose for writing. Students need a purpose for reading and writing. If they know that their work is being published online for everyone to read and interact with, they might take it seriously. Students would most likely put in more effort and time. I also liked the idea about writing being their voice and that it needs to be heard. This is a perfect way to do that.

I am curious how much time students would put into this outside of school. We do have computer labs in my school but they are used frequently. (which is a good thing) But I know teachers would be concerned about going to the lab often.

Anonymous said...

I’m commenting on sessions 9-11. Things have gotten away from me the past couple of weeks. I started paying attention to Web 2.0 technologies a few years back when the University I was working for was looking into social networking software for use in fundraising. My first instinct was that using the technology to track our alums’ online networks was somehow-I don’t know- unethical. The technology was very new and much was unknown to me then. Now I see the benefits of what they were trying to do. Web 2.0 tools certainly lend themselves to use in the classroom allowing students and teachers to engage in dialog and feedback-internationally (the global classroom) and without time constraints. I think that Web 2.0 has much potential at the high school level. Traditionally, parent involvement in schools levels off and then declines at the high school level. Interactive web 2.0 offers many ways for parents and community to be participants in the educational process. Web 2.0 also allows for differentiated instruction. As mentioned, there are no time constraints on participation. Also, hyperlinks allow for “further explanation” on topics or words that may be unfamiliar to the user.

Collective intelligence is what using the internet should be all about in education. How cool is it that students in Rhode Island might work collectively with students from another continent? That intellectual collaboration can happen simultaneously between groups has revolutionized the way work gets done in the world. The real-work/world applications for teaching using wikis is immense. I loved the idea of the “Stanford Wiki.” Every year our student council members do a “freshman orientation” for the incoming 9th graders. There is never enough time to do much more than a tour of the building- how great would it be if they set up a Ponaganset Wiki? The ease of setting up such pages makes me think that this is not a far- fetched idea! Because wikis are collaborative and are not a “one way street,” students may be more responsible about the content they add. Knowing that questionable material can be challenged or edited by others may affect content.

Google documents: I wish it were around when I spent years editing and re-editing research reports. More than once- the wrong “final copy” got emailed to our short-tempered president. I actually see some usefulness in using this for group projects. In our school, everyone has his/her own user folder to save documents- but there is no shared file. Google documents offers an easy way for students to collaborate on documents.

Why wiki? Finally-Wikipedia Revealed! These videos are great. I’m always caught between the wikipedia-loving student and the wikipedia-hating teacher. Why can’t we all just get along! This is something I want to go back to when I have more time. I think that there is a ton of valuable information in these videos. I need to feel more confident in “selling” wikis to teachers. I don’t think it is an easy sell. High school teachers are inherently suspicious!

-Terri Spisso

Anonymous said...

Terri Spisso-
My Deliverable #3 is a grant proposal. Administrators in my school are very supportive of integrating web 2.0 technologies into curriculum BUT they are not willing to give us any funding. I'm peddling a unit plan I'm working on with a science teacher to some funding sources.

Anonymous said...

Deliverable #3 is a proposal which I plan on presenting to my co-principal regarding an enhanced blogging project for my fifth grade, regarding the rooster games. We've just had an incident of cyberbullying so I think we need to take steps such as having children/parents sign a blogging contract and having administrators agree to the blog (which I tried for the first time last year just on my own say-so). I might want to put a video or audio post as well so I really want to keep everyone safe and cover my posterior as well. Please use it, anyone, if you find it useful at all. Happy holidays, Lisa Casey

Melissa Horton said...

My comments will focus mostly on the video dealing with the ease of use on Wikis and Wiki security.

I have maintained a web page for my classroom for many years, and as time passes, creating the pages has gotten much easier. But there were lessons to learn, like the fact that you must upload every image or document or they will not appear on the webpage (the dreaded red "x" instead.) So, I know that when trying to insert an image on a Wiki, you must follow all the steps - Upload and then insert. I say all this because my students are used to "cut and paste." I have had several students say to me, my Wiki looks fine at home, but the images are missing here at school.

My point is, that while creating Wikis is not terribly difficult, there is definately some background knowlege needed.

Wiki security is an interesting issue. On large sites, like Wikipedia, the information can be intentionally hacked, or just plain wrong. I do not discourage the use of Wikepedia in my classroom, but remind student that they must be able to collaborate information. This, to me, is just good research anyway.

On my student's Wiki Portfolios, I have reminded students to keep their work set to private, and only allow me to have access. Some students have allowed their friends access, and so far, I only have one report of "hacking" a portfolio. Next Trimester, I will be trying to have students pair up and collaborate on thier portfolios. I am hoping this will be successful - really allowing students to do some peer review - which is more what a Wiki should be. I am hoping the students will see the benefit of being able to work together, and security will not be a concern. Only time will tell, but I hope I will not be dealing with students intentionally violating others work.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, congratulate me! I just made an edit to the Wikipedia article on Alfred Hitchcock and it has been up for 24 hours. But what I really wanted to share with you all is the real crazy stuff that apparently goes on in behind the curtains at wikipedia so go to "lamest editing wars" where it is revealed among other sundry goodies that one man from Connecticut keeps changing an article that calls Boston the hub of New England (he claims that the author is using wikipedia as a tool to have Boston overthrow the rest of New England) and many hilarious edit wars. It is laugh out loud funny .
enjoy! Lisa C.

Maria said...

I started a wiki through Wikispaces with some fourth graders about the history of RI. They were really eager to share their knowledge and picked up the how-to of adding content to the wiki pretty quickly. I had them use my username to edit the wiki since I know we can't view personal e-mail in school and it'd just be a pain to create new accounts for students who have Internet access at home. I created a class login with their teacher's e-mail address after they left the library and probably will have them use that login in the future since I am the one who logs them in (safety issues).

Viewing the PB wiki videos really promote using and creating wikis as the greatest thing going. I think they are very good tools to use but not exactly that simple to create. Seems like it's easier to lose the content you've added than have it post exactly how you'd like it to look. For example, my students were really successful in losing just about everything they had created in a 40 min period in a matter of seconds. I couldn't figure out what they did and couldn't get the page back again either. So much for the history pages.

Back to the upside, I do believe wikis are useful tools since I am spending the time to have my students create one. It is a great forum for collaborative work because others have the opportunity to expand, edit, and add to the previously posted content. Great example of a collective intelligence! Like Kathleen Ferenz suggested on the PB Wiki videos, wikis are an opportunity for reflecting on one's ideas, for reflection is at the heart of learning. Wikis are not a one way street to delivering information, sharing an idea, a project, etc. They are invitations to inquiry and reflection.

On the negative side, Like Lisa mentioned, I am concerned with monitoring usage of the wiki on the elementary level when students are accessing it outside of my library and deleting useful info and adding other stuff that may not be as relevant. Yes, rules of etiquette and digital citizenship should prevail but we all have those students who believe they are above the law so to speak. I'm not too crazy about having more work to do if the wiki becomes vandalized. If my students have to use a blanket class login, I'll really have to be a detective to figure out who done it. I don't think parents in our school (at this point in time) would agree to e-mail addresses for their children either and I know that not all of my students have Internet access at home. For now, I am only allowing a small group to work on the wiki at a time so I can be there to monitor them. I haven't addressed logging in to the wiki outside of school (and no one has asked how yet either). Once I do that. I will have the students and parents sign a "wiki rules and etiquette" form. Right now, our project is just a small scale one so I have lots of control. I guess I favor a blog at the elementary level since I can have control over what gets posted. Unfortunately, we can't access blogger or any other service online in school because the server restricts our access. Catch 22 here I guess.

Reading blog said...

I added my proposal to the site. I would like to have a blog where the students can discuss a text we are reading. I want to get my students engaged in reading. They need to become active readers.

famous said...

This session gave me great ideas of how to proceed an upcoming wiki project.
1. Introduce the concept of wikis and their power. Show examples
2. Lesson on online safety
3. Lesson on good citizenship on the web.
4. The nuts and bolts of using a wiki/setting up an account
and then the project should be underway!

Dave Fontaine said...


Anne Howard said...

I enjoyed the videos on the blog and from UW. The videos from PBWiki were not really redundant, but rather confirming. I have learned most of what they discussed through my own experiences. I did find the discussion of Wikipedia fascinating. I've been one of those teachers who wouldn't allow it as a source of information. I've been changing my mind about this the more I learn about it. I think that no student research paper should rely on one source, no matter how respected the source. I require my students to have at least 3 sources and will allow Wikipedia for them to get an overview of a topic. My 7th graders will actually be using it this week as part of a research project.

I've been dabbling with wikis for a little while now. Blogging was a fiasco with my 8th grade class but I didn't let that deter me from trying wikis with them.

My 8th grade class is a film study class and for this last semester they are going through the process of making a film. The students grouped themselves - we thought this would enable them to work together better than assigning students to groups. The first thing the groups had to do was choose a fable to film. This was done and they got started writing their scripts. As the class only meets once per week, a wiki was the perfect way for them to collaborate without having to physically get together.

The directions were for them to select one person to be responsible for posting the initial script to the wiki and then the other members of the group were to each edit the script. The deadline for getting the script written was one week.

This assignment was met with success by those students who actually followed directions. In addition to the scriptwriting, the students were supposed to write a reflection on what they learned about film making. While only one student actually realized why using the wiki was useful and wrote about it, I think even the ones who didn't mention it understood how useful this format was.

The best part of using the wiki though was to prove to a student I knew he hadn't done the assignment. He argued and argued with me that he had done it. I pulled up the history so he could see that there is a record of who has edited the site. He questioned whether or not it would register if he didn't do the work from a school computer. I assured him could have used any computer anywhere in the world, he would have registered. He continued to argue the point, but I know, if questioned by a parent, I can show he didn't do the work.

I love how easy a wiki is to set up and use. I know a little html but not enough to do anything of substance. It look me less that 10 minutes to set it up and less than a minute to add pages as I need them.

I showed this to a parent last week and set up a page for her son and another student in his class to use to write a paper. They had to do the assignment together, only had 4 days to complete it, and didn't know how they would be able to get together to do it. The mom was thrilled with the wiki. As it turned out, the boys didn't have to do their papers together so they didn't need it.

My 7th grade classes are beginning research projects and I am going to have them post them to the wiki. This way I don't have to worry about students remembering their flash drives - the work is saved to the web and they can access it from anywhere! This also circumvents the excuse of the computer wasn't working. If the home computer doesn't work then they can go to the library and access their work. Since there is nothing to print out, students can't forget to print and bring to class for grading. To me, the greatest benefit to teachers is the ability to regularly check on progress, be able to show whether or not progress is happening, and encourage those students who are lagging behind. Since it is paperless, maybe a wiki should be marketed as an environmentally friendly resource. I wonder if Al Gore knows about this?

Anonymous said...

Melissa Berenberg
Reading Teacher
EDC 921
Session 11

I enjoyed the format of this session with the youtube testimonials from pbwiki.com. It was nice to have a short introduction to what each one contained. The idea of collective intelligence and collaboration streamlined these tutorials. The need to have continued learning outside of school will ease the mind of teachers and parents. I always feel like there are students who miss assignments because they are absent or being pulled out for other reasons. Most of the time, it is impossible for the children to complete class work or makeup the work with the rigor of today’s academics. If these web 2.0 tools can support student learning effectively outside of the classroom then it will support educational needs and continue instruction after the school day ends. I also like how students are sharing the work with others through a wiki rather than only handing the work in for one person to see. Wikis are a vehicle for students to reflect on their work and others with continuous feedback. These technology tools students will pick up easily and enjoy the graphic features. I also think that when we are proposing our ideas to an administrator one of the steps should be to actually have that person use a wiki and realize how easy and effective it can be. Another important point made was about security. With anything, rules and guidelines for appropriateness need to be established before starting.

Google Documents reminded me of wikispace and blogger.com with some added features. I like the layout of the spreadsheets and presentations. The security of the site seemed more promising and advanced. I liked the idea of selecting the members whom which you would like to share with. You can also invite people to communicate such as a chat room. The idea of controlling what you publish and who can see it is more comforting that opening up a forum to the World Wide Web. I wonder if wikispace has similar features that I have just missed?

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, seems to have more cons than pros. Fact vs. Opinion is too hard to decide upon and who wants to make a student checklist for that. There is a lot of vandalism and jokes with hyperlinks and the credibility is hard to establish. If the own site cannot guarantee the value of the information than why would we recommend this site as a tool for gathering information. I would rather guide my students toward a more credible source such as Encyclopedia Britannica and other valuable informational sites. Wikis can be used for many things but as an encyclopedia, I feel that the evidence and sources need to be concrete and valuable.

A Pisani said...

I personally didn't get as much from the pbwiki videos as I did from the University of Wisconson-Milwaukee video, but together they identified many of the pros and cons of using wikis. The idea of building something in a collaborative format is clearly the biggest pro I can think of. As a tool for use in the classroom, I think an educator has enough security options to feel comfortable having a wiki be part of their classroom. Reading through Anne's comment, I couldn't help but think, "This is what a wiki is perfect for!" I think she's found a great project to showcase this tool!
As a research tool, wiki's must be used with the same amount of caution that any other online source is used. As a matter of fact, I think the University of Wisconson video showed (in pt 3) that no resource is immune to errors. Where students find information may be changing, but what students do with that information shouldn't be any different: sources should be backed up-period.

MrsO'Halloran said...

Joan O'Halloran

The pbwiki videos highlighted the usefulness of wikis in helping students develop collaboration skills, encouraging self-reflection and acceptance of others' comments, and incenting students to do their best because their work is public. The teachers also spoke about how easy it is to use wikis. I visited several of the wikis mentioned in the video and either the page could not be found, the wiki had not been updated in a very long time, or access was blocked.

I found UM presentation very informative. Whenever my students research a topic, they invariably use Wikipedia and I always tell them not to! After seeing this presentation, I realize that the problem is not Wikipedia, the problem is not knowing how to use the information on Wikipedia. I knew that all information sources contain error, however, I would not expect the number of errors to be so similiar to Wikipedia's.

I agree with the teachers on the pbwiki videos that students need to learn how to evaluate everything that they read, on the internet and elsewhere. Wikipedia contains a huge amount of information on topics that would be difficult to research in a school library. It is a valuable resource that should not be discounted. I also agree with the U of M presenter when he said (I'm paraphrasing) "verify all information sources, and Wikipedia is one more tool in a repertoire as researchers that can be used and used wisely. Internet resources are not going away, our students are already using these resources, we need to teach them to be prudent consumers.

I like the fact that wikis are free, easy to set up, and have varying degrees of 'teacher control.' The collaborative aspect of wikis makes them a natural addition to the educational process. Lack of computer time will be a challenge for me - the computer labs and library are not always available.

Google documents also looks interesting. I will explore this further when I have more time. Is there no way to add documents in Excel or Publisher to a wiki?

Lastly, I am very impressed that the ALA conference attendees realized that there was a need and just started their own wiki to share pertinent information. In times past people probably would just complain to each other and not much would change! What a great example of collaboration.

Donna said...

I too enjoyed the format of this session. It was a nice change.

I found the University of Wisconsin video very informative. I was almost convinced that using Wikipedia as a source may not be such a bad thing, since other more reputable sources have almost the same number of errors. Then I got to the part on how changes were enacted. Basically, voting and a consensus takes place and the persistent editors can win out. Quality information may not remain because of a persistent editor. A while back, my daughter and I experimented with editing in Wikipedia. We chose a topic that we were very familiar with and made some changes. The next day our changes were gone and we were also labeled vandals and our IP address was blocked.

My opinion of Wikipedia remains the same, use it for an introduction to a topic that you know nothing about but go to more reliable sources for research. The problem is that most students are not critical of information and they don’t evaluate their sources even though I spend most of my teaching time showing them how to do this. Last year, I was a librarian in a middle school and it was much easier showing younger students how to do this. In my high school, the students don’t want to hear it, especially the juniors and seniors. I have a much better time with the 9th and 10th graders. Hopefully, they will continue to listen. The current seniors and juniors will eventually learn when they get to college.

I did enjoy the librarian’s quote about giving a stranger a knife to remove your tonsils. It was an extreme comparison to Wikipedia, but it gets the point across. I agree with Melissa B. that wikis can be used for many tasks, but not as an encyclopedia. I think the only way it could be a reliable source is if its editing community was limited to some sort of experts.

Anonymous said...

Susan Tennett Adams
Cranston/Grade 5

After viewing the PB wiki videos and actually reflecting on the past few sessions, I realize that I’m not ready for wikis. There, I said it! I’m glad I got that off my chest. I know that wikis are wonderful collaboration tools and that some time in the near future I will be incorporating their use in my classroom, but not right now. I spent a great deal of time creating my blog; something I knew very little about until this course. My students love posting on it, and I’m happy that I’ve incorporated it into my classroom. (One of the fourth grade teachers was impressed that I actually am using something learned from a class. Usually, as most know, very little that is learned in classes and/or PDI’s is useful in the classroom.)
With that being said, one thing that caught my ear while watching the PB Wiki videos was that with wikis, class doesn’t have to end when the bell rings. Students can go home and continue working collaboratively. What an amazing world we live in!!

T. Kimball said...

I found the format of this lesson refreshing. Not sure I'd want it for every lesson because in order to reference material contained within, I'd have to either take notes on the fly or else scan back through the whole clip. But it was a nice changeup!

I am finding the wiki-world much like some whiteboard projects I did back 10-15 years ago on CUSeeMe. Students would cut and paste in real time on a common virtual "whiteboard" and it was amazing to see 20 students linked to a coomon document making changes in real time from the same room.

The wiki-world has flaws at my high school level not only because of the security/safety issue but also just accuracy of vocabulary and content. Misplaced information on a wiki might be hard to undo educationally in students formulating an understanding of a topic.

The PBwiki is interesting but I have reservations I am building as to exactly how to impliment what I want to do safely and with worth. I want the students to become capable digital citizens that contribute importance and integrity but that also requires a diligence on their part to keep focused and accurate. In a controlled classroom setting it is easier but not sure how it will go otherwise. Worth trying anyway!

Leilani Coelho said...

I enjoyed this weeks session on wiki’s especially the UWM presentation. It was a bit repetitive but I liked how he showed you lots of different sites and examples of wikis. I was unaware and amazed at all the sites that people have created to share their knowledge. The presentation actually encouraged me to search for a wiki on Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I have one myself and know a great deal about the breed. Ridgebacks are more popular in the Midwest so it’s difficult to find people who know a lot about the breed around here. When I found the wiki on Ridgebacks I was impressed with the information that was there but I also saw that there was a lot missing. I could see secondary and possibly upper elementary teachers encouraging their students to research a topic and add their knowledge to a wiki however it must be difficult for them to monitor those students who would rather vandalize instead of learn. I wonder how secondary teachers handle this and if they encourage students to engage in activities like this or just avoid it altogether?

I set up a wiki with pb wiki and found it easy to set up but difficult to manipulate. I am trying to create a wiki that will display Kindergarten student work, lessons, and activities that other teachers can use and add to. This project is definitely going to be a working progress so if anyone has ideas let me know. Also, for the final project do we need to have one specific theme or can it be lessons on various subjects. Has anyone finished their final project yet???

JPolinick said...

John Polinick
As previous posts confirm, the PBWIKI clips from Youtube are elementary and do explain the basics of a wiki, but the UWM videos add a great amount of content knowledge to anyone watching especially regarding Wikipedia.
Living in the world we do, we have to constantly filter information throughout the day. We filter facts while driving, talking, and teaching to name a few. Children working quietly don’t click our teacher radar, it is the one out of his/her seat that quickly gain our attention. This filtering of our environment becomes second nature. We notice objects and facts that we consider important, and ignore or block out things that aren’t. If we didn’t do this, I doubt we would be able to function. Once these skills are transferred to web information, we will do the same. I think as our experience in web based (especially peer edited spaces) grows, these skills will also become more advanced and fine tuned. Eventually, information seen will be either read, believed, ignored, scanned, or just taken with a grain of salt. No longer is print the final word. I think that this is a good thing. It nurtures independent thinkers and learners.
Much of the content in the UWM videos were based upon Wikipedia. I didn’t realize the size and realm of material the site contained. . The fact that Wikipedia is being edited 500 times per 3 minutes demonstrates its use and functionality. I initially thought it was similar to Britannica, but it is more like a book of everything. From gossip to Gulliver’s Travels, Wikipedia does have basically something on everything. The question raised throughout the videos is, is that something accurate? I would say, it is generally accurate, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. Pam B did bring up a good point regarding citizenship. We teach children classroom rules and appropriate behavior, we should also teach them what it means to be part of a virtual community as well. We should set rules, standards, and guidelines for all academic areas our students are involved in.
I did enjoy the session’s format. It was quickly accessible and allowed for easy relaxed viewing.

Anonymous said...

Okay - I have a great deal to say. First of all, I finally came to the comclusion that I have not been getting everything through the powerpoint presentations. I don't know if it because I never got the narration in voice form, or what, but I do not even know what deliverable #3 is nor the final project, so Dave, could you contact me at rfeole@aol.com ASAP, because I am at a loss, and frankly a bit panicked.
Now, to the session - I never got the PBwiki session, though I am going to try a search for it ton ight, so I can view it. The rest of the presentation is on the blog, but no PB wiki.
I already set up my wiki on wikispaces, but I haven't had much luck getting students to participate. We just do not have access to technology as readily as needed to use wiki technology as a writng and editing place. Like others who have taken this course and responded to this discussion have said already, it has great potential for creative writing, all types of writing for that matter, but I just don't have the time, and my students absolutely do not have the technology access. Like my classmates, I find that there are a great number of roadblocks to using wikis in the high school arena.
Back to my wikispace. I really though that I could use my wiki to create the beautiful wikis like we viewed on the session examples, but mine is bland and hard to navigate. I will try it with the PBWiki when I get access.
Finally - I have a great blog. I have worked all semester to improve it and I have great luck in getting students to participate. I have even gotten e-mails from past students of this course commending me on my ability to get the students involved at the caliber they have. I am even in the process of putting a podcast of our most recent POETRY SLAM on my blog. It is too cool, according to my students, and I agree. If I can manage this, I will be so impressed with myself. When I began this I didn't even know what a blog looked like. Now I am podcasting, who would've thunk?
Please tell me what I am supposed to be doing for the deliverable #3 and fnal project. I guess I better get going on it!
Diane Feole

Mrs. Z. said...

Hello All,

Again, another lesson with a wealth of information.

As I mentioned in my last posting, I am currently using a wiki for students and am incorporating parts of my final project as we go along. Currently, they are working on study guides for Farewell to Manzanar as we work on a unit together on "Perspectives," specifically dealing with Pearl Harbor, Japanese internment, and the bombing of Hiroshima. I haven't checked their most recent updates; however, I opened up one of the classes for viewing:
if anyone would like to take a look at what they're doing. This is probably my most "middle of the road" class, but at last check, they had the most info entered. If I have some great "stuff" enterend in other classes, I'll open those up for viewing as well. It's really working out as a much easier way to collaborate on a project, idea, etc. without having to get together at someone's house after school, etc. They just work on it together at their convenience. Right now, we're all kind of learning as we go along, so I feel like some times I'm not as formal as I could be with rubrics/grading, but I will have this tightened up for their final projects.

With regard to Google docs, our team is currently using this option for our weekly progress reports. If anyone is doing manual progress reports for students, Google docs is the way to go! Our special ed teacher has set up a spreadsheet/table that the team teachers update weekly by around Thursday night. She then e-mails the parents to let them know that the document (obviously specific to their child) is available for viewing. It is so much better than filling them out manually, giving them to the student, and hoping they get home on time or at all. Very easy to use...multiple teachers can edit at the same time...definitely check it out! It also keeps a history, like a wiki, so you can always see what you said in a previous report, etc.

With regard to this week's videos, I thought the information on Wikipedia's drawbacks, etc. to be very informative. The content on what can be trusted, plagiarism, and a new definition of "reporter" certainly got me thinking. I also thought it was definintely fair to say that it's not just Wikipedia that has inaccuracies. "Quack books exist in the stacks as well!"
The medical wiki makes me very nervous, though...
As we near the end of this class, I feel like I have learned so much and am excited to implement everything right away. Wikis definitely have a place in my classroom (wikispaces is SO easy to use), but, as I've said before, I still worry a bit about plagiarism. I've had students cut and paste things into the wiki and to their papers. Many students still think if it's on the web, it's for the taking. This is why I am forcing them to cite any material they use from the web, right down to the smallest picture in their final projects.

Have a good week,

Steph Z.

Mrs. Z. said...

I opened up another class if anyone is interested in viewing:


Good lit circle discussion and projects.

Steph Zannella

joannak said...

Joanna Knott
Librarian, Grades 4-6

“Dissecting Wikis”

Before I begin, I have just gotten the most fantastic news; our school district has agreed to provide email addresses through Gmail for all students in grades 4-12. This was a huge concern of mine (of course!) every time I thought about implementing a class wiki or blog. One roadblock down, only a few more to go!

Video One
The first video from PBwiki certainly mentions some of the more appealing features of a wiki, particularly its ease of use. Of course, knowing html code or how to ftp a page is an impressive skill, but really, who has the time? The one comment that stood out to me was Kyle Brumbaugh, who claimed that a wiki is a living document, which is three dimensional rather than a one-dimensional document. It’s an analogy that swam around in my head, but I couldn’t really put it into words. It’s expanding, it’s growing, it’s living…it’s 3D!

Video Two
Amit Kumar just repeated the phrase that I repeated over and over again to my students today. We were discussing plagiarism, how to avoid it, and some of the ramifications of it. I specifically mentioned their Myspace and Facebook accounts as well as future wikis and blogs. I tried to push that the entire world can see their work; if they plagiarize, then they are doing so in front of the authorities as well as the original authors. Kumar stated that wikis will force students to become that much more responsible and careful about the materials they present as their own.

Video Three
Dominic Bigue brought up one of the most relevant points, in my opinion, during this video. He mentions the universality of wikis. Students can’t complain that they forgot their jump drive at home, their documents won’t open because they used a different program, or any of the other numerous problems when transporting to and from school. With wikis (or blogs), students can see the same documents no matter where they are. No more excuses for not having homework done!

Video Four
Digital citizenship is a large concern for a lot of us. I have seen numerous comments and posts from my piers questioning how students will be monitored for honesty, appropriateness, and just common courtesy. I have a sense that, for the most part, students will have such a sense of pride in their work as well as recognition for its importance on the web that they will not have time or interest in poor citizenship. There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but that’s an axiom of life.

Video Five
Even after watching the clip, I still see issues with security (doesn’t everybody?) Even though I just said I would hope that students’ pride would prohibit them from defacing anyone else’s wiki, the steps that these speakers take to provide a secure wiki for others can still be circumvented. For instance, who is to stop a student from creating a second account, one which doesn’t have their name or any identifying feature in their username? Some students, by there very hormonal nature, will persevere and find a way to ruin a good thing. The teachers’ position, though, is to overcome that, use it as a teachable moment, and move on.

Google docs has been used more and more in my district. Right now departments and grade levels are working to turn each and every unit into a UBD (Understanding by Design). Teachers are moving computers, working only in school, trying to get various documents merged, and I just keep walking around the building trying to get them into Google docs. But as I read the user examples on the Google docs site, I am surprised at how many of them mention using it for their blogs. Some will collaborate with others on a doc before posting it on the blog. That adds a whole new level of collective intelligence!

UWM Libraries

Wiki Vandalism – I saw an example of this recently. One of our former high school students purposefully inserted his name into a wiki as the creator of the first waffle iron. He did it to prove a point to both his teachers and his classmates. He posted it two years ago and it’s still there. Possibly the worst part of this is the fact that I’ve known about it and haven’t edited it. For shame!

I never noticed Wikipedia’s disclaimers before. It makes complete sense that they would need medical, risk, and other disclaimers as people would probably visit Wikipedia for so many important needs. I also loved Wikipedia’s self-awareness; the list of controversial issues is (to me, personally) a hoot and I can’t wait to dig in it myself. I appreciated this video for a number of reasons. I would have never thought of vandalism due to rumors, political warfare, editing warfare, practical joking, conspiracy theories, and more. I’m sure I don’t have to worry about my 4th graders doing any of that on a serious level, but I am concerned that they cannot discern between fact and fiction.

I can’t wait to try out some of the new wikis from the last video. Wiki quotes is perfect for me; I often use Bartlett’s online, but this resource would be interesting to explore and compare to my other resources.

The Star Trek wiki brings up an interesting point. Redundancy in wikis is probably growing as fast as the population of users. How will this ever be streamlined effectively? I recently found a wiki that a teacher created as part of a workshop. He typed approximately 25 words on it and never touched it again. I ran across it and saw that someone had vandalized it. I contacted him via email to notify him of the issue and he took care of it. However, the fact remains that there are probably hundreds of wikis out there that haven’t been used or edited or even read in years. When is it time to clean house?

Anonymous said...

Final Project – Discipline Specific Teaching Unit
Diane Feole
Apathy to Empathy through Literature

Intro :
This unit is based on a grant project I created and have been working from with my 9th grade English classes, all academic year. For this project, Teaching Tolerance provided us with the novel Chanda’s Secrets and it is to be read as an outside reading. The classes have done many, many readings to increase awareness, education, and tolerance of the world around us. These include a Holocaust and other world tragedies study through “The New York Times” archives, reading The Freedom Writers Diary, The House on Mango Street, Stolen Voices, and many, many articles/ short stories, poems, all on the subject of tolerance.

Chanda’s Secrets is a novel by Allan Stratton about a girl who is living with the shame of her family’s HIV in Africa. According to Stephen Lewis of the UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, “This powerful story hits home with its harsh truths, its pain and its hard-won hopefulness. No-one can read Chanda’s Secrets and remain untouched by the young people who are caught in the AIDS pandemic and still battling to make sense of their lives.”

Most of the students in these two 9th grade English classes do not have computer, nor Internet access at home. Therefore, they have limited experience outside of the realm of instant messaging and text messaging when it comes to communicative technology. In an effort to expose them to both the plights of others in the world, and to the technology of blogs and wikis, I will provide a very controlled format for which they can express and share ideas about the novel they are reading outside of class.

Finally, this format offers all of us an opportunity to practice reading and writing strategies we have been working on all year, but with a great deal more autonomy, hopefully leading to intrinsic motivation to learn more about the world through reading and writing. The blog will use the Question, Predict, Summarize, Connect, Clarify reading strategy formats.

1. Expose students to blogs and wikis and have them use them in a controlled, educational environment.
2. Provide individual research opportunities about topics of tolerance.
3. Practice and maintain already learned skills and knowledge about reading and writing.
4. Provide students with an autonomous learning environment.
5. Provide students with the opportunity to share their knowledge of wikis, blogs, HIV/AIDS and or the novel.

W-10, W-11 : Habit of writing – You follow the writing process. Includes research, rough draft work, etc…AND You write extensively, more than one piece, on the same subject, or multiple pieces on the same genre.
W-1 – Structures of language – You apply understanding of sentences, paragraphs and text structures. This means that you write using a variety of sentence types. Your paragraph structure works to accomplish its goal.
W-2, W-3: Reading-Writing Connection: Writing in response to literary work.
W-9: Writing Conventions used correctly.

R-2, R-3 – Vocabulary – Use of vocab strategies and breadth of vocab
R-4, R5, R6 – Understanding literary texts – Analysis and Interpretation of texts, citing examples.
R-16 – Generating a personal response.
R- 17 – Breadth of reading and participating in a reading community.

Content Standards:
E1abc, E2ab, E4ab, E5ab, E6ab, E7ab

School-Wide Expectations: 1.1

DOK varies by activity/assessment

1. Mad minute –
a. With a partner, students will write down everything they know about Africa.
b. Then they will write down everything they know about AIDS.

2. Vocab introduction: Add to word wall:
Hypothesis (We may add to these as we go along. Only 3 words should be introduced at a time)

3. Computer lab – responding to readings – Students will go to the blog/wiki site set up for this project, and go to the links provided. After each link, students will write a written response to their experience on the site.

Topics and Links :
1) African geography

2) African people

3) AIDS and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa

Other stuff to check out:

Pandemic: Facing AIDS

Race Against Time
The film follows Canadian Stephen Lewis (United Nations Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa) on one of his first fact-finding missions in Africa. Aired on CBC’s Nature of Things in 2001.

The Value of Life: AIDS in Africa Revisited
A follow-up documentary on Stephen Lewis’s return to Africa. Aired on CBC’s Nature of Things in 2003.

Other films on AIDS in Africa are available at www.filmakers.com/AIDS.html

4. Students will look at wiki at home and respond to the following information posted wikipedia about HIV Origins Myths:

MYTH: [edit] The AIDS epidemic began when a human male had sexual intercourse with African monkeys, transmitting the virus to modern humans
While it is true that HIV is most likely a mutated form of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, a disease present only in chimpanzees and African monkeys, it is extremely unlikely that the zoonosis (inter-species transfer of a disease) of HIV occurred through sexual intercourse. The African chimpanzees and monkeys which carry SIV are often hunted for food, and epidemiologists theorize that the disease appeared in humans after hunters came into blood-contact with monkeys infected with SIV that they had killed. The first known instance of HIV in a human was found in a person who died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1959.[35]

Likely spread from animal to human populations
A variety of theories exist explaining the transfer of HIV to humans, but no single hypothesis is unanimously accepted, and the topic remains controversial.
[edit] Cameroon chimpanzees hypothesis
The most widely accepted theory is the so called 'Hunter' Theory, according to which transference from ape to human most likely occurred when a human was bitten by an ape or was cut while butchering one, and the human became infected.[2] Researchers announced in May 2006 that HIV most likely originated in wild chimpanzees in the southeastern rain forests of Cameroon (modern East Province) [3] [4] rather than in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), as had previously been believed. Seven years of research and 1,300 chimpanzee genetic samples led Dr. Beatrice Hahn, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to identify chimpanzee communities near Cameroon's Sanaga River as the most likely originators. [5]
Calculating based on a fixed mutation rate, the jump from chimpanzee to human likely occurred during the French colonial period (1919–1960). Comparative primatologist Jim Moore suggests that this may have been the result of colonial practices of forced labour, which could have suppressed the immune system of the initial hunter enough to allow the virus to infect and take hold. Likewise, using one needle on many patients for forced immunisations for illnesses such as sleeping sickness may have sped the virus's initial spread through Cameroon. Needles were also shared in the booming colonial city of Kinshasa, where the virus spread.[6]
An elaboration on the "Hunter" theory hypothesises that colonial practices such as labor camps and non-sterile vaccination campaigns, with other technological and social disruptions, to the food supply in particular, promoted the cross-over from chimpanzees and the spread amongst humans.[7]
[edit] Oral polio vaccine hypothesis
Main article: OPV AIDS hypothesis
Freelance journalist Tom Curtis discussed this controversial possibility for the origin of HIV/AIDS in a 1992 Rolling Stone magazine article. He put forward what is now known as the OPV AIDS hypothesis, which suggests that AIDS was inadvertently caused in the late 1950s in the Belgian Congo by Hilary Koprowski's research into a polio vaccine.[8] Koprowski pursued legal action against Rolling Stone, and the magazine published a clarification stating that its editors "never intended to suggest in the article that there is any scientific proof, nor do they know of any scientific proof, that Dr. Koprowski, an illustrious scientist, was in fact responsible for introducing AIDS to the human population."[9] The magazine also paid US$1 in damages.[10] Nonetheless, the Rolling Stone article motivated another freelance journalist, Edward Hooper, to probe more deeply into this subject. Hooper's research resulted in his publishing a 1999 book, The River, in which he alleged that an experimental oral polio vaccine prepared using chimpanzee kidney tissue was the route through which simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) crossed into humans to become HIV, thus starting the human AIDS pandemic.[11]
This theory is contradicted by an analysis of genetic mutation in primate lentivirus strains that estimates the origin of the HIV-1 strain to be around 1930, with 95% certainty of it lying between 1910 and 1950.[12] While few scientists have questioned the fundamental soundness of the phylogenetic approach employed, some have questioned the validity of the associated molecular clock mechanism for accurately gauging the passage of time without specific corroborating data,[13] as in this case.
Hooper rejects the dates calculated using a fixed mutation rate, saying phylogenetic dating of "the most recombinogenic organisms known to medical science", immunodeficiency viruses, is "inherently incapable of making any allowance for recombination". [14][11]
In February 2000 one of the original developers of the polio vaccine, the Philadelphia based Wistar Institute, found a vial of the original vaccine used in the vaccination program.[citation needed] It was analyzed in April 2001, and no traces of either HIV-1 or SIV were found in the sample.[15] A second analysis showed that only macaque monkey kidney cells, which cannot be infected with SIV or HIV, were used to produce the vaccine.[16]
The hypothesis that oral polio vaccine was involved in the origin of AIDS has been investigated and generally rejected by the scientific community, as a large mass of available evidence contradicts it.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Pre-reading Assessment: Agree or Disagree: In pairs, students will research and then agree or disagree with the following statements. They must choose one statement that they disagree with and explain using what they found in their research that disputes the statement.

Statements Agree Disagree
1. One of the major factors contributing to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa is the lack of education regarding how the virus spreads and how it can be prevented.
2. Most people dying of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa became infected by engaging in “risky” or “promiscuous” behavior.”
3. HIV/AIDS is Mother Nature’s Way of controlling the world’s population.
4. HIV/AIDS is an infection that targets poor groups of people.
5. The majority of sub-Saharan Africans with HIV/AIDS contracted the disease through homosexual relationships or IV drug use.
6. Women are more easily infected with HIV/AIDS than men.
7. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa should focus on prevention in the living than treatment of the dying.
8. Some people deserve AIDS.

We disagree with statement #___________ because _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

5. Pre-reading prompt on wiki –
Define your idea of “shame.” What actions might be considered “shameful?”

What about 50 years ago?

Are some things shameful to one group of people and not to others?

What does this suggest about how “shame” operates?


Students will be assigned several chapters per week. At the start of the next week they will be taken to our school’s computer lab (yes, we only have 1!!!) and they will respond to and share insights from the novel by using the following prompts:

While reading the book activities:

Chapters 1-5: The first few chapters of a book are important to understanding the novel as a whole because it provides the exposition. This means that you, as a reader are introduced to setting, characters, background info and conflict. Look at the questions below - Choose at least three of these that you were introduced to and talk about them on this wiki for at least 2-3 sentences, each. If someone else has already responded, be sure to read and refer to what he or she has said. Do you agree or disagree?

Ideas to talk about:
Describe Chandra – What type of person does she seem to be? What is her family situation? What is her daily life like?

Describe Esther – What type of person does she seem to be? What is her family life like?

Describe Mama – What type of person does she seem to be? How many men has she had relationships with and how have these men affected Chandra? How many children does she have and how old are they?

Describe Mrs. Tafa – What type of person does she seem to be? What has happened to her to make her the way she is?

Describe where Chanda lives – What is sub-Sahara like according to the author, Allan Stratton? What is a shantytown? What is life like for the people who live there?

Conflict is introduced in Chapter 3, p. 5 – What is the secret that is introduced here? What other “secrets” pop up in your reading?

What characters have you met and which ones do you feel sympathy or empathy for?

Chapters 6-12: These chapters introduce more characters, more secrets and AIDS. Answer at least three of the following questions:

You learn a lot more about Jonah in this chapter. What do you learn and explain whether you feel sympathy or empathy for him anymore. Why or why not?

Chanda says, “love makes people stupid” (28). What does she means and do you agree or disagree?

What sort of power does Mrs. Tafa have in these chapters?

What secrets are exposed in these chapters?

What is the reaction of the characters to AIDS? Is it what you, as an American expected? Is it different from the way that we deal with AIDS?

Sara dies. What symptoms does she exhibit that hint at her condition?

Chapters 12-25: Again choose three to respond to.

Describe the poverty of Chanda’s town. Have you ever witnessed anything like this? Explain where and when.

Chapter 13 is about Mama. What cultural traditions are mentioned? How are they different from your own?

There are a couple of “doctors” in these chapters. What do you think about them and Mrs. Tafa’s trust in them?

You learn more about Jonah, and about Mama. Do you feel either sympathy or empathy for Mama? Explain which and why. How about Jonah? What happens to him?

Esther is prostituting. Why and what is Chanda’s reaction?

Chapters 25 – end

Well, so much happens to so many people in these chapters talk about three of the following characters. What has happened to them and how do you feel about them, empathy? Sympathy? Disgust? explain:

1. Jonah
2. Esther
3. Iris
4. Mama
5. Chanda
6. Soly
7. Mrs. Tafa

Final Assessment:

(Differentiated instruction)

Students can choose from a variety of options:
1. Find a poem that explores a central issue in the novel and present it. Also provide a written paragraph of your presentation.
2. Write a news article on the AIDS crisis in Bonang.
3. Design a different book cover or a movie poster and explain in a separate written paragraph why it would be effective.
4. Create an AIDS awareness comic book for children aged 8–11.
5. Write about Chanda and her family five years after the book ends,
paying attention to what is possible in her circumstances, based on the text.

4- exemplary 3- proficient 2- emerging 1 – not proficient
Written project displays extensive knowledge of HIV/Aids in sub-Saharan Africa and the novel . It examines and analyzes impacts, offers insight into connections. Written project displays knowledge of HIV/Aids in sub-Saharan Africa and the novel. It examines impacts, offers some insight into connections. Written project displays little knowledge of HIV/Aids in sub-Saharan Africa and the novel. It fails in its examination of impacts, and offers little or no insight. Written project displays very little knowledge of HIV/Aids in sub-Saharan Africa and the novel It does not address impacts, and offers no insight.
Written project is creative and aesthetically pleasing. Written project is somewhat creative and aesthetically pleasing. Written project is neatly displayed. Written project is not neatly displayed.
Spelling, grammar, style – no mistakes Spelling, grammar, style – few mistakes. Do not hinder understanding and effectiveness. Spelling, grammar, style – mistakes hinder understanding and effectiveness. Spelling, grammar, style – many that hinder understanding and effectiveness.

FINAL EXAM QUESTION will refer to empathy and this novel.
See glossary on www.feoleslitcircle.wikispaces.com