Amie Weldy is an Instructional Technology Specialist from Forsyth County, Georgia whom we’ve enjoyed learning from on Twitter! We’re pleased to feature her and her creative classroom practice as a guest blogger this week. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with Amie here:
Last year, I decided I wanted to try “flipping the classroom” with my 7th and 8th graders. I had heard about it, but I was a little intimidated by the idea. Flipping the classroom by definition is having students learn the content at home and when they come to class they complete a performance task or project based assignment where they apply what they learned at home.
In my opinion, the teacher facilitates learning and helps students during the application process by moving around the classroom and giving feedback on the product as it is being created. It was scary letting go of the reins of being in front of the class and letting the students be in charge of their learning. It is an untraditional approach, but their engagement and they products they created were absolutely worth it! I had used Wikispaces previously as a website for information in my college cohort, so I thought it would be a great idea to use it in the classroom as a collaborative space for students and myself.
The first wiki I did with my students was our Roller Coaster Project for 8th graders who were taking an advanced 9th grade physical science class and were learning about forces and motion. Students worked in groups of 3-4 to construct and label a roller coaster. We used Wikispaces as a collaborative area for the teacher to extend the classroom to home. The wiki housed all of our flipped classroom assignments and resources. With this first wiki, students learned how to access information on the Wikispaces page. After I showed them the first time and told them that I expected from them, I was hands-off. They would come in every day and have a short quiz on an instant response website and then would get started on building their roller coaster. They knew that when they walked in the door, they were to take the quiz and start building.
A big reason I used Wikispaces was to engage students in their own learning. Every project they did where we used Wikispaces, the students were involved in the process of learning and were taking ownership of it. As the year went on, our classroom Wikispaces usage evolved into students creating and collaborating even more on the site. After the initial roller coaster project, I had students edit their own pages and collaborate with their group members through pages on the site. Instead of going to a website to read and take notes, they went to the site and added their part. They were responsible for a part in a greater whole; the engagement with them knowing this was astounding!
The first time I used Wikispaces with students, I had to create accounts for around 90 6th graders. It took a lot of time on my part to make all of those accounts, get the information to the students, make account permission strict, and so forth. It was definitely doable, it just took a bit more time to get it started. The next year, our county purchased a Wikispaces Campus license and moved our wikis over to our own site. This was so much easier because our students already have a username and password they use for everything else and with the Campus site we were able to link their school usernames and passwords to Wikispaces. This cut down significantly on the initial prep I had to do. I could instead focus on making the site more collaborative and good looking! I have thoroughly enjoyed using Wikispaces in the classroom. It is one of the most powerful collaborative tools I have ever found.
I am presenting at the upcoming Georgia Educational Technology Conference; my session, “Flip it! Using Wikispaces to Engage Learns and Extend the Classroom,” will be on Thursday, November 7th from 3:15- 4:15. Please stop by if you are there!
Amie will be joining us as a special guest panelist at an upcoming Flip Your Classroom with Wikispaces Hangout on Air in November. Stay tuned to learn more!
Want to see more of Amie’s examples of flipped teaching with Wikispaces? Check out two more of her projects here:
Ecology project: 7th grade students used Wikispaces to find nightly assignments for their ticket-in-the-door the next day. They created a mockumentary or a website describing a specific biome and uploaded it or linked it on the wiki. They then taught the class about that biome while the audience gave positive feedback to them through a backchannel conversation using Socrative.
Biodiversity project: 7th grade students had to work together to describe issues in our biosphere. They were assigned specific QR codes on a cube. Each person was responsible for their own research, which they put onto their group Wikispaces page. Next, they had to collaborate on creating a presentation to show the class which they embedded and linked into Wikispaces.