I told my students that they were writing for a world audience and to prove it I embedded the ClustrMap into the navigation bar. Please visit our wiki, keeping in mind that it is definitely a work in progress.
Fortunately I do not have to provide report card grades for the 400+ students I see each week. However, the wiki project is crying out for an evaluation of some sort. To be honest, I’ve sort of been putting it off, not that I haven’t thought about it. This evaluation is observational and I plan on a more formal assessment next quarter.
- Since I don’t usually teach writing skills, I have done a poor job of scaffolding the writing that the students are doing. Fortunately, one of the teachers working with me suggested using a book review template. I think this helped quite a bit but I still need to work on this aspect of the project more. They need to see more examples of quality reviews and practice more before actually writing the piece that they will post. I’m not sure how to fit this into a schedule that includes lessons on how to use the library, research skills, website evaluation, etc.
- On several levels, the quality of some of the reviews is not what I would like to see. Basic capitalization, punctuation, glaring spelling errors, and missing words are all signs that students have not been concentrating when proofreading. They are so eager to play with the editor functions, which I’ve encouraged, that they rush through the typing.
- Most of the students are very interested in the project. I seldom have discipline issues during class since they listen closely to instructions and go to work. I think this is an important point. Computers are a powerful incentive that can make a lesson more accessible and interesting to students. Our principal told me that recently when she had to suspend a student, their biggest concern was the fact that they would not be able to post on the wiki.
- They’re having fun. I told the students to make that page their own. Each one is very individual with various fonts and colored text almost exploding off the pages. It might not necessarily be easy to read but that’s not always the point:
Scream School Goosebumps series
- Some students have asked if they can continue to post reviews even after they leave for middle school. Whether this will actually happen or not is not clear but the fact that they expressed an interest is exciting.
- Next week students will be peer editing. It’s much easier for students to notice the errors on their friends’ pages than it is to notice the ones on their own.
- Some students are still writing and haven’t had a chance to post their reviews. I hope that everyone at least gets started by the end of the quarter.
- I need to work on my part of the wiki. The pictures and links on the home page need to be completed. Each individual genre page has the name of the students writing reviews and I have to link to their pages. At some point I want to teach students how to do this and show them how to put a picture on the page.
- A more formal assessment needs to be done. For a big project like this, I’ve found that after I see what worked and what didn’t I can prepare a more useful rubric.