Ray Mirshahi teaches at Timberbank Junior Public School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is a regular Twitter contributor to the educational community. He teaches ICT / Media Literacy in the morning to the whole school and Grade 3 in the afternoon, and we were so thrilled to be able to sneak a few minutes of his time recently to hear all about how he has used Wikispaces Classroom.
Ray uses this education-specific version of Wikispaces.com to design an engaging learning environment for students, and manages several different wikis as the ICT and Media Literacy coordinator. One worth a deep dive is his teaching resource site. He also has a separate wiki for his school, and for his class, where he shares short and long term curricular plans. Finally, he has a wiki for his students where students post work, share feedback, and are assessed by Ray. By creating separate wikis, Ray allows himself to differentiate the content and permission levels he’d like for different audiences. We think it’s a great example, and encourage you to give it a go! Remember teachers, you can have unlimited wikis.
Take a moment, relax, and watch as Ray walks us through his ‘student wiki’ using Wikispaces Classroom:
Ray has shared more here and be sure to say hello to him on Twitter. Thanks Ray!
Setting Up Your Navigation
Many teachers use the navigation bar on the right-hand side of their wikis to simply list all of their pages. Ray took it a step further: he edited the navigation bar to include specific links to his different classes, and even for his archived alumni sites.
Want to try it? Click “Edit Navigation” at the bottom of the navigation panel– twice!– and then you’ll have access to that whole space in the side panel to customize. Enjoy!
Personal Spaces for Each Student
Ray says, “We use wikis to allow students to collaborate, as well as let their individual voices to come through,” and that’s obvious as soon as you see the individual pages he has set up for his students where they can post things that interest them. Ray adds: “Students need their own safe social media spaces where they can work and play, and Wikispaces in my opinion is the best platform for that.”
To set this personal space up Ray created a new Project and then created a page for each student. This makes it easy for him to check on students’ work quickly and give them feedback. It’s so easy to do, the principal even comes in and leaves comments, which naturally is super-exciting for students.
One Project, Small Group of Students
This is a great example of managing small groups of students working together in your class. In this case, Ray creates Projects and then only adds two or three students to it. He has a collaborative page where they can work on things together, such as this awesome “Ghost Ship” story. Then, he creates a page for their own individual work, where they can easily leave each other feedback and ideas.
One Project, All Students
As Ray says, “It’s so easy!” He uses a variety of Project formats based on the lesson and needs of each of his classes. In the case below, Ray created a Geometry Project and he uses it as an “extension of the lesson.” For instance, he has his students go to the topic they are studying and add to his digital activity, such as identifying vertices on a shape using an animation and having discussions about it, right there on the “lesson page.”
One Project, All Students, Uploading Files
Another use Ray has discovered for the Project space is creating one Project and then simply instructing students to upload their files to that page. This creates a lovely list of files that you can actually comment and give feedback on right there. In this case, for his Audio Jam project, he had students upload their .mp4 files directly to the page and each is able to easily be commented upon.
Want to try it? Create ONE Project, and then simply put your instructions on the home page and have the students just “Add File.” Then, go to “Pages” and you’ll see them all waiting for you to peruse.