I have been mulling ideas about the writing process and the impact of computers and technology for some time. Now that I am working with my students to create wiki pages on science topics, it occurs to me that they are particularly well suited as a means of shifting the writing process in some way, but I am not yet sure. Wikis by their fundamental nature are revision driven as is the writing process.

Those who have done this before--what kind of process or work flow did you use when students were writing their pages. Right now we are still in the research phase, so I am interested in hearing what others have done or have experienced in terms of drafting, revising, and the writing process.

Tags: process, wikis, writing

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I agree that wikis and other Web 2.0 tools have a great deal to offer the writing process. And as you suggest, I think that the key to success is structuring protocols that make the most of the tools to serve particular aspects of the process. I have not yet used wikis with HS students, but one thing I think would be important to address is students' sense of authorship. Unless the terms of the revision process are clear and agreed upon by all authors up front, things could get messy. For example, I could imagine students being upset if someone changed their text in ways they didn't like. On the other hand, I could also imagine establishing rules about which changes could be made without asking and which changes would need to go through the original author (through comments, perhaps). Have others dealt with this issue successfully with their students?
I taught a 2nd & 3rd grade combo class last year and LOVED using the wiki for writing. http://mswebster.wikispaces.com. The best feature is the "history" tab where they can go back and compare drafts and talk about why they made some of the changes. HOpe this helps!
Hi, I really like your class wiki. I joined wikispaces and just wondered if your wiki is a free wiki. I noticed that they have a wiki available for K -12 with more features. I teach college level ESL.

I am beginning to use wikispaces as a writing tool this year as well. I have a grade four and five combination (the multigrading is so common now). I know there are alternatives to wikispaces, but I am sold on them. At this point we cannot approach 1-1 computing so I compromise. We organize our writing around Writing Traits and a cycle of prewriting, drafting, revision+editing, and publishing. The weakest link is revision+editing and wikispaces can facilitate this best. Publishing in my classroom means moving the writing to their wikispaces. This helps the students understand that revision+editing is not a one-time effort. My objective is to move this writing from their learning spaces to their digital portfolio spaces.
I really like your classroom wiki! Great use of technology in the learning process!
I teach an Intro to Education survey class to college freshmen, and all of our writing is on our class wiki. Our class has several writing assignments over the course of the semester, a comprehensive report on a school and an annotated bibliography about a particular educational issue. I try to encourage my students with a variety of pedagogical devices that might be helpful to other teachers looking for ways of scaffolding student collaboration.

In the research phase of their school report, student groups are offered extra credit for preparing "research tutorial" pages that provide step-by-step coaching for how to answer particular questions for reports the students have to write. these pages accumulate year-by-year. The EC is awarded to "blue ribbon" pages based on class voting, w/ each student voting for their three favorite pages.

After their report drafts are "completed," we spend a week peer editing. Each editor completes a rubric/comment page that they link to their author's report. (I created the rubric and saved it as a wikispace template so that the students have easy access.) I use the same rubric when evaluating the reports after the final due date. Several students use colored text to make in-line comments. After the final due date, each student can complete a "Tip Your Editor" form and turn it in to me to reward editors that they feel helped them improve their work.

I am not a writing teacher, so I my strategies are based on what I think would motivate students to work together to improve each others products. I would be interested in reading what other teachers have used to scaffold a writing/editing/revision mentality within their wikis.
I have been using wikis for a while as a tool for my EFL/ESL students to improve their writing skills. I currently use Wikieducator which requires knowledge of minor codes. I have no idea why, but my students and I are finding it more engaging to add codes than to have them already there as was the case last year with Wikispaces, ning, or Moodle. For some reason, having full control in developing a table of contents via the headings and adding new pages with internal/external links to the WE page is making the learning process incredibly empowering for my students and I. I would love to research the reasons for this phenomenon at some point. However, my intuition is that multitasking and using both right and left brain hemispheres may be behind it. I also believe that learners need to be challenged and being spoonfed just doesn't seem to do it for many of us. I am so happy with Wikieducator, that I am now facilitating a free online course of my own. Just click on the edit and add your details if you wish to join. Who said simplicity is the key?

If you are interested, please feel free to join me on wikieducator where "I" become "WE".

Warm wishes,

Nellie Deutsch
I helped Steve Margetts set up Wiki Textbooks about three years ago. It has had modest success, but no more than that. Recently I came across this sage advice, and really wished we had had it when we set up Wiki Textbooks. We would have avoided a lot of mistakes. Wikipatterns' intended audience appears to be internal wikis in organisations, but a lot of it is nonetheless relevant to educational wikis.
Steve, might I suggest a method we've been promoting in our district?

Wikis do change the playing field, so to speak. Everyone's work can be transparent. You might find a lot of borrowed ideas. But as long as they are referenced between students, I think you'll have for some exciting learning.

Here is an excerpt of a recent blog post that provides some ideas on how to best use wikis in classroom. Some of this may be useful to you.


Ways to Use a Wiki

Because wiki is such an open and simple technology, there are countless ways to use it with your students. Consider any activity that involves collaboration among students. Good starting points are group projects or individual projects that contribute to a single larger body of work. One teacher I worked with had each student pick a U.S. President to report on. When they were done, a single page put them together into a multi-Presidential report that all students could learn from. Another chose to have groups of four students report on major events of a specific decade. When done, a cohesive time line of the last 50 years of U.S. history was available for all. With projects like these, students feel like they're contributing to something larger than themselves, and knowing that peers and perhaps parents will be seeing their work adds an element of pride unavailable in work simply handed in to the teacher.

Another option is to have each student complete the same assignment on pages that only they can see and edit. This requires some extra setup on your part, but this effort is easily made up in not having to grade different topics for each student. If this level of control is needed, be sure to test student logins to make sure they can edit their private page and that other students can't see it. The real benefit comes when all the work is handed in, and you open up access so that students can see each other's work. This provides valuable insight into how peer work differs, and adds the element of pride knowing that peers will see their work.

In both cases, a wiki that provides the ability to comment on pages can add a fun peer review element to projects. Students love to comment on each other's work and read the comments about their own work.

(excerpted from http://www.editme.com/Classroom-Wiki)
I found an interesting post by one of the best educational bloggers of our time, Bill Ferriter. His post "defining wiki goodness" is an excellent post. It is worth checking out.
I think a BIG plus of wikis like wikispaces.com is the "Recent changes" facility. Teachers can VERY quickly see what students have done and edited. If each student has their own page (or Wiki) the teacher can be an "Active mentor" without a lot of extra effort. The "recent changes" point the teacher right to the new student work, and the changes are even color-coded.
Regards, Terry King ..On the South China Sea in Shekou



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