Teacher Tap

Wikis and the Role of Collaboration

Beside the ability to create quick webpages, the other reason to use wikis in the classroom is the ability to promote collaborative learning.

Nancy Bosch, the Gifted Facilitator at the Nieman Enhanced Learning Center in Shawnee Mission, Kansas recently completed her first wiki assignment with students. Her sixth graders were overjoyed to hear that instead of a written essay, they would be creating a wiki based on the book The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett. After setting up the space for her students at Wikispaces, her students jumped into the project creating chapter summaries, character pages, and topical resources. They also created cross-references within their wiki, as well as linking to outside resources. Their comments told the whole story. (Excerpt from Lamb & Johnson, Teacher Librarian, June 2007)

"Boy, I'm glad we didn't have to write!"
"It is so cool to know that somebody might use what I wrote for their research!!"
"I write a lot more carefully knowing the 'world' can read it"
"I liked the fact that we could work together, help each other out and link to stuff someone else wrote"
"It is so cool to put something ON the Internet, rather than always taking stuff OFF."

In another project, Nancy had her students read Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson. Fourth through sixth graders participated in a Pirates wiki called arrrpirates. Young people not only worked on their own pages, but they also linked to the work of their classmates.

Wikis, Literature and Individual Differences

Not all children are drawn to the same content. Provide young people with a wealth of opportunities and choices. Bring kids together with a unifying theme. Help them in seeing the connections. Then, create synergy.

Go to the Civil War Literature Wiki. Notice that students have choice. They are also involved with integrating their ideas with the materials developed by others.

Read The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. Share your knowledge at the Seven Wonders wiki. Share your invented wonder. Then, create a page about your local wonder.

Go to WikiLit for a list of literature-rich projects.

Common Wiki Project Pages:

Why are Wikis and Collaboration Important?

collaborateMany teachers and students dislike collaborative work. Yet we know these skills are critical in today's workforce. Look for ways to enhance collaborative skills through specific, standards-based activities.

  1. Develops essential life skills
  2. Allows for differentiation and cross grade assignments
  3. Promotes synthesis, creation, and evaluation skills
  4. Encourages synergy
  5. Enables access to work 24/7

Read Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs. This article provides tips and checklists for incorporating buddy writing in the classroom using Google Docs. These ideas could also be applied to the creation of wikis. Also, go to the READING and WRITING magazine blog for other ideas.


Collaborative Projects

Many collaborations occur between schools or among many schools.

Within Class

Go to the CSI: Cemetery Scene Investigation wikispace and the Weathering wikispace. Students used this wiki to organize information they collected at the local cemetery including notes, photographs, gps coordinates, and other ways of recording the place. They also conducted research on burials. Then, they created a website for the final project. Others:

Between Schools

In the Romeo and Juliet wiki, young people from two high schools (California and Israel) collaborated on an English project. Others:

Many Schools

In the 1001 Flat World Tales and 1001 Tales Wikispace projects young people from around the world participated in writing, editing, evaluating, and sharing stories. Others:


In the Favorite Food wiki, children are asked to add their favorite food. Others:

Collaborative Writing

Seek ways to promote collaborative writing.

Collaborative Fiction Writing

In Animal Tales Collaboration (Grades 1 and 4), young people read a story and write facts. Then another student writes a story. Others:

Collaborative Nonfiction Writing

In Eat Me, students try to persuade others to each a particular type of food. Others:

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