Since this is my first post, I'll introduce myself, I'm Chris from New Jersey and I am starting my student teaching this fall. I'm working on a class project on integrating technology in the classroom, and I hope I can make something that I would be able to use when I have my own class. I have little experince with how students interact with technology so I'm looking for some advice.
Does anyone has experience using wikis in a science classroom? What are some challenges and is it worth it? How did your students respond to it?
If you need context this is the short version of the activity it will be used in: I'm planning on having groups of students create their own wiki page on the class page. The students will be investivating how and why blind cave fish are blind. I will give them evidence and they will use it to generate models and an argument for why their model us best, given the evidence. The students will also be able to discuss the evidence and models on the wiki.
Hi Christen -
I work on the ReadWriteThink.org website where we have resources available for English Language Arts. We have two lesson plans that might give you some ideas for your science class:
Hope these help! Best of luck to you - lisa
Another thought as I see you are having your students generate an argument for why their model is best, given the evidence, might be to have them use RWT's Persuasion Map - ReadWriteThink.
The organization of their points, using this interactive, makes for an outline to use as they write up their argument or to use as notes in a debate. Just a thought. I know this is your first time integrating technology into a class assignment and the Thinkfinity interactives are all easy for students (and teachers) to use.
Note: With this interactive, students can save their work and finish at home or at the library with Internet connection. Then they can print.
Best of luck with your activity. Pre-planning and testing, even creating a sample product to show makes for smooth integration of technology use in your classroom.
I've seen wikis work well in science classrooms- here are just a few things to consider from the technology viewpoint. Here is a science wiki from one of my friends.
1. Some wikis are blocked in our district (i.e., wikispaces is blocked but PBWorks is not)- you need to check to ensure students can have access (I'm guessing some of the work will be done in school). Even if you can access the site- sometimes teachers have different rights than students have. Some wikis require email addresses. Even though our district provides school email for each student, it is restricted. They would not be able to use the email to create on a wiki.
If you find out that sites are blocked or restricted, you might want to consider edmodo. While this is not a wiki, it would provide a place for the students to get information and post it to emodo.com. New to edmodo? Here's the link to an overview. I've used edmodo from 4-12 grades and you have a great deal of control. The students love it.And it is free!
2. Be sure to check the district's AUP language to see if wikis are covered. See if parents need to be notified.Since you are student teaching in the fall,you might have a few weeks delay before your students have access. In our district, it takes a few weeks before the students have access since AUP forms need to be signed and returned- this might help with your planning.
3. The students might not have wiki basics- I think it will be important to cover some basics on how you use a wiki and what you should and shouldn't write. They also need to know that you will be able to see who and when the wiki is changed. (While they maybe facebook pros- that doesn't mean they now what to write!)
3. Another option might be webpages- Weebly is very cool (again, in my district it is blocked for students so I cannot use it).
Where are you teaching in NJ? I'm currently president of the NJ Science Teachers Association- perhaps I can connect you with someone?
Please let me know how I can help.
Another option you might consider is having students create a wiki using Google Sites, especially if your district uses Google Apps for Education. Google Sites functions very much like a wiki, it is easy to use and has the added advantage to see who made changes to the site. This is particularly important for group accountability.
There are some examples of Google Sites used in classrooms here.