Wikis and Blogs in The Classroom


Table of Contents:Wikis and Blogs: What's the Difference? | | Sample Student Wiki Projects | | Tips for Developing a Wiki-based Project | Blogs in the Classroom | | Sample Student Blogs | | Blog Resources |




Wikis and Blogs: What's the Difference?

Taking its name form the Hawaiian word for FAST, a wiki is an easy to manage, editable web-page that usually includes a discussion board
component. Almost any type of file can be uploaded to a wiki and accessed by members.

In education, wikis might be used for:2010-01-16_1919.png
    • class websites
    • webquests
    • discussion boards
    • student e-portfolios
    • group projects
    • cross-classroom/content/district collaboration
    • research projects

An abreviation of web log, a blog is a personal, more journal type website that includes timely posts and reflections on any given topic. It also allows viewers to comment on posts and can include images, video, links and audio clips.edublogs.png
In education, blogs might be used for:
    • Teacher to student communication
    • independent student or teacher reflections
    • class projects
    • research projects
    • online discussion


Sample Student Wiki Projects

The focus of this workshop is developing lessons that utilize wikis for class projects. Of course, you may want to develop your own as well, and resources for this can be found on the wiki design workshop page. Below are links to sample student and teacher wiki projects as well as resources and tips to get you started.

  • Grammar Wiki--Students created a grammar wiki that was used to review and teach specific grammar topics. This was a group assignment and students were given a specific template to follow and were to use various web-based tools like Cool text and ToonDoo to make their websites more visually interesting. They also each designed a quiz using Survey Monkey which was given to the class following their presentations.
  • Modern Materials Chemistry Wiki--Students were to create a wiki that showed modern appications of chemical materials. This was a group project and students were challenged to research, organize and present information in a visual and meaningful way. They also used web tools like Animoto and Cool Text to make their sites more engaging.
  • Study Skills Wiki--Used as a final project, Apllied English Strategies students created a wiki that provided specific tips and strategies for academic achievement. This was a group project and was to be targeted at freshman who might actually use the resource.
  • Cross Curricular Discussion Wiki --this was a wiki discussion between 9 Honors Bio and a 10th grade English class on the topic of evolution.
  • Cross District Discussion Wiki--this is an example of a wiki discussion between Hampton and Peters Township English classes. Students discussed as the read the novel All Quiet on the Western Front. The activity culminated in a live video conference between the classes.
  • Science Lab Wiki --Mrs. Maine is a teacher from Punxutawny who has used her wiki to replace textbooks over the past two years. There is tons of great stuff on these pages, but the team pages in particular have some great examples of students using wikis to document lab experiments.
  • US History Wiki --Created as a review resource, this wiki has specific links to student created pages that summarize important info from all topics covered in class.
  • Other Educational Wikis--this site has a pretty extensive list of educational wikis from around the globe.



Tips for Developing a Wiki-based Project


  • Start with the end...What specific curriculum objectives do you want students to demonstrate through their wiki?
  • Design a rubric early in the process so you can share these expectations with students...maybe even involve them in this process? After all, a wiki is a web-page and these kids look at a lot of web pages! Click here for some sample rubrics. Here are some suggested criteria for student created wiki projects:
    • Organization--User friendly, logical design that shows clear understanding and application of content presented. This could also include how headings and page links are to organize information.
    • Images, videos and graphics--high quality multimedia is used thoughtfully to organize, enhance and support information, not just as random decoration.
    • Content--information is accurate, thorough and shows depth of understanding.
    • Research and Resources--information (text and multimedia) sources are cited and come from reliable, authoritative entities.
    • Creativity--Wiki platform is used to present information in a unique and creative manner. Any one can copy and paste text from other websites...How does this project present it in a new way?
    • Group Effort --I like to have students evaluate each other in this category (you could use an online tool like Survey Monkey to keep it anonymous and easy to manage...here's an example). You can also look at the history tab on any wiki page to see who is editing it and how often.
  • Design a project home page. This can include resources for students including project instructions, rubrics and links that might help them find material.
  • Set up links to student project pages on your home page. This might be individual student links or group links.
  • You may want to design and include a template to help students organize material on their pages...a good way to differentiate the project.
  • Allow time for students to research content BEFORE they start designing their wiki. Once they get in design mode, this has a tendency to take a back seat!
  • Direct students to http://tools4students.wikispaces.com/Wikis for tips and tricks for wiki design
  • Allow some class time for students to develop wikis, but keep in mind, these can be accessed by all group members from home.
  • Use the HISTORY tab to see who is making edits and if anything needs to be UNDONE.
  • Allow students to share, review and comment on each other's pages when appropriate. Having a genuine audience can be a great motivator and help them find relevance to their work.



Blogs in the Classroom

Students might use blogs to reflect, summarize, synthesize, apply, predict, connect, find relevance, question, discuss and or explain curricular concepts in any content area. Blogs allow students to create a more personalized web site than a wiki and allow them to view and comment on peer's pages. Although up to the instructor's discretion, most blogging is somewhat informal in voice and style and is written from a first person perspective.

In math or science, students might blog to:

    • record lab observations
    • Question, reflect and expand on class activities or assigned readings
    • journal and during a group project
    • discuss real world applications and connections
    • share insights and answer peer questions

In social studies, students might blog to:
    • Reflect from a historical figure's point of view
    • Journal as an observer of a historical incident
    • express political ideas
    • respond to readings or writing prompts
    • reflect on current events

In language arts, students might blog to:
    • respond to independent or assigned readings
    • reflect on literature from a character perspective
    • explore modern or personal connections with literature
    • evaluate and review readings
    • log progress when during a research progress



Sample Student Blogs

  • http://bonaparte01.edublogs.org/ --This is an example of a blog for a history class done from Napolean's point of view
  • http://mrsthomsonenglish11.edublogs.org/ -- this is a teacher blog that includes posted blog prompts and links to individual student blogs. It is used primarily for responses to independent and assigned readings.
  • http://emmett1.edublogs.org/ -- this is a project blog that had students create a blog form a literary character's perspective. Blogs were to include character reflections on novel events, biographies as well as literary criticism summaries, poetry and modern allusions. Students also commented on their classmate's blogs in character.



Blog Resources

http://halter.edublogs.org/ -- Read my blog for an indepth reflection of the above projects.
http://misterteacher.blogspot.com/2005/01/using-blogs-as-portfolios-to-increase.html -- Although I don't have any solid student math examples, here is a blog that suggests having students blog extended responses to math problems.
http://edublogs.org/10-ways-to-use-your-edublog-to-teach/ for more ways to incorporate blogs into your classroom.
http://edublogs.org/ --while there are many blogging tools that are free to educators, I have found this to be one of the best.