Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Smartest Generation

I have gone back and forth about the upcoming last weeks of class. Students want to do something "not boring." Often, I do a visual literacy unit that ends up with a sound-supported iMovie and/or a wall of great photos of the school environment. This year, social studies has decided to do a sound-supported iMovie (research based), and our color printer is off-limits due to the budget crunch (I also would have to buy all of the batteries myself). As for me, I would really not like to correct another set of 82 essays.

So, I have decided to extend our work on wiki construction to create a very quick collaboration in response to The Dumbest Generation (see my previous post).

My kids don't want to be labeled dumb - so now they can take a step in the direction of proving it. And get a better handle on learning about the wiki environment.

A quick review of what we have been doing:
  • We have been reading for relaxation (CPPR: choice of public or private reading) all year
  • The librarian wanted kids to contribute reviews to share reading preferences
  • The school got a new Apple server in February and configured it to host wikis (not great, but OK) and blogs
  • We tried out blogging, with short creative challenges, and learned how to blog and to comment
  • We expanded commenting to VoiceThread projects
  • We wrote serious book reviews, then moved them into a Book Review Wiki
  • Students made book, author, and genre pages, linking them all together
  • Students will edit and add to each other's reviews
(All of these projects can be accessed by links on my homepage.) Though this process, students have learned how to get around the wiki tool. I have learned, by the way, that this is intuitive for MySpace users, who have also been learning some html code to spice up their pages (imagine how much fun could have with a Grade 8 Ning!).

Time to turn the wiki into collaborative fun, but remember what Papert liked to say - "Learning is hard fun."

So, I have created a section of the Literacy 8 wiki called Smartest Generation Project. Beginning tomorrow, students will be challenged to group themselves into topic interests, to find a "problem" within the topic, to explore solutions, and to reach consensus on one solution to the problem. All via the wiki environment. I will start the group building on poster paper in the classroom, but after that I will step back and watch. Great way to end the year!
I will be recording the journey here. You can follow it yourself at the Smartest Generation Project.

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