We recently caught up with Clemencia Acevedo, who is a teacher at MS325 Urban Science Academy, Bronx, NY. She presented at Fordham Graduate School of Education’s Digital Literacies Conference about using wikis to help students write informational essays (her presentation slides). Check out our Q&A with her below.
1. Briefly describe your wiki, and what you use it for:
I created a wiki for my science 7th grade students for the school year 2014-2015, as well as one for English Language Learners (ELLs). My goal was to provide a platform for my students to easily access engaging, difficult and grade level readings and scaffold them with additional visuals, images and videos. I also wanted to give my students an online space to answer questions based on readings done in class and at home. This served as additional scaffolding since students viewed each other’s responses. Students also referred to wikis for major assignment directions in case they lost the printed handouts.
However, I realized over the school year that wikis were a great platform for students to post their finished products, such as PowerPoint Presentations, digital posters and essays. In the spring, my students used Wikispaces to share their essays and digital posters on body systems. At the end of our journey, they were able to review and admire each other’s work.
2. Tell us about a particular moment that made you say, “Aha! THIS is why I use wikis!”
When I first started teaching, I was concerned that many of our middle school students didn’t organize their reading and task handouts, often misplacing or losing them altogether. After I started posting readings and assignments on wikis, these students began to review the wikis in order to understand the assignments. This saved me time and energy from re-explaining. Those were the moments when I said, “Aha, this is why I use wikis.”
3. Besides the Edit button, which wiki feature is your favorite?
I love the homepage discussion feature because it allows me to write brief messages about homework with links, reminders and clarification about a task or assignment. This feature offers the option to send messages to student’s emails. Some parents are members of my wikis and receive messages. This gives them the opportunity to interact with their children through homework and projects at home.
4. If you could ask it, what do you think your wiki would say about you?
It would say that I’m trying to ensure that each student receives an education no matter the obstacles they face in and outside the classroom. It would also say that I teach 21st century skills students can use later in their careers as jobs increasingly require computer skills.