Our team has loved seeing all of the creative examples of how teachers are using the new Wikispaces Classroom at schools this fall. We featured some of these amazing teachers, like “Coach E” Blair Einfeldt at Rock Springs High School in Wyoming, in our blog “Wikispaces in the Wild” last month. Mr. Einfeldt’s example of using Wikispaces Classroom’s Newsfeed, Projects, and Assessment features in his Literature Circle Project was so good, we asked him if he wouldn’t mind sharing how he set it up with all of you.
Mr. Einfeldt explains his Wikispaces Classroom site in detail below.
“Our state requires that our Juniors do a ‘Lit Circle’ and as a group present their findings on a book of their choice. I decided that Wikispaces, with its built-in functionality of discussion forums, provided exactly what I was looking for. I decided to take all 4 of my Junior English classes, give them accounts, and put them in a big pot and divide them in groups using the Team feature in Projects. Since most of my students were in groups with kids that weren’t in their particular class, this forced group work to be done exclusively online and through the discussion threads. Wikispaces was perfect for providing a forum where they could present their findings in a professional, 21st-Century-Skills-driven way.
To prepare my students, I spent an entire class period for them to get familiar with the wiki. They created a profile, added pictures, and completed a checklist of things I wanted them to do and treated it like more like missions to accomplish throughout the day. One small tip I learned from this was to have a small mini-lesson to help my students understand that this is academic writing even though it resembled a Facebook-type functionality. I had quite a few students type things that were more suited for social networking but after this lesson and practice the commenting improved. Be prepared for social justice– we had students calling group members out for not doing their jobs, mostly because I think they felt that they could be more blunt through the false sense of anonymity provided by computers. This was positive and negative, but they were much more demanding than I have ever seen in regular face-to-face group work. I also took full advantage of the great Assessment tool. This page helps you track who is doing what and we even turned it into a competition to see who could get the most page edits and words posted at the end of the project.
I think the most beneficial part of our project was providing students a new way to do the same thing. They saw other classes doing it the same old way and felt a level of pride in that they were doing it in a technological way. It gave them the freedom to create and each page, post and discussion was different. I actually loved reading their discussion forums because I felt like I got more out of them this way than I would have in a classroom setting of 25+ students. They were all engaged, in charge of certain jobs which meant accountability, and all interested in the outcome.
The other incredibly helpful thing about Wikispaces Classroom is that it is online and creates a broader audience. Being online, students could work on it at home, at school or even on their personal devices. Rather than presenting their findings to their group of friends, they had to be accountable to the entire online community. This forced students to be a bit more selective of what they put on there.”
Blair Einfeldt, Junior English Teacher and Coach
Rock Springs High School, Wyoming
Feel free to reach out to Blair to share your own ideas about using Projects in Wikispaces Classroom, and join us at our Back to School Night webinar this Sep. 12th at 6PM PDT. You can also click through his site below!