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Connected: Digital Literacy for Gen Z

Dr. Julie Wood

Julie M. Wood, a former public school teacher and reading specialist, is a nationally recognized educational consultant with a special interest in digital learning tools. Join Julie in 2012 as she shares best practices in using educational technology and media in the classroom and at home.

What about a wiki?

October 30, 2012

All of you teachers out there? Have you ever set up a wiki for your classroom? If so, how did it work out?I've been thinking about the potential of wikis ever since I interviewed a second-grade teacher for the book I'm co-authoring.1 The teacher, Golriz Golkar, who teaches at the Lycée Français in San Francisco (a French immersion school), is big fan of wikis. "I was so excited about creating a wiki for my classroom. I was able to set it up in one weekend after I attended a workshop," Golriz said. "Parents love it too. They ask to join the network. They log on and are able to access the site. Blogs are available too. So are calendar functions." Golriz has also found the wiki to be a great way to share weekly spelling lists and photos of her students.What else can you do with a wiki? Golriz points out that it's easy to create an avatar of yourself and record your own voice. Then when children log on to the wiki page, there you are — virtually — introducing them to the site. You can also set up discussion threads and a personal page for every child. "Children could draw using a paintbrush tool, post photos from the weekend, and tell what they did. Parents got on and looked around at what other children were doing and talked it over with their child," Golriz said. "They loved it."Since wikis are password protected, everything you post will only be shared with the community you've created (children, parents, and the principal, for example). As a digital teaching device, she's sold on them. "It's incredibly easy to do [to set one up]. Create a password. You don't need any programming skills. I used templates and learned from other teachers in the room when I took a workshop."Robert Simpson, an educational technology specialist I spoke with, is impressed by teachers in his school in Malden, Massachusetts who created a math wiki. The idea was that through the wiki, parents could reinforce math concepts — especially word problems — at home. Parent approval of the wiki ran high, especially among English Language Learners. They asked for more.I'll bet some teachers reading this post have their own stories to share. Tell us what worked for you (and what didn't!).For those of you who are just getting started, check out these free resources:

1 My co-author is Nicole Ponsford, an award-winning teacher in the U.K. The book is tentatively titled "TechnoTeaching: Taking Control of the Global Classroom," Harvard Education Press.

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