I'm stumped as to how to begin! I'm envisioning my 8th graders creating a wiki page in groups to relate information they have learned about life during the Civil War. Then I will grade their wiki pages. The only problem is that I don't know how to teach them to create it or where to even look! Any suggestions?

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What I've done is start a main page for the class and then all other pages would stem from that. It would make showing them how to edit easier. Wikispaces lets you sign up your students without using an email address for them.

Sean Hanson
The Vanguard School
Paoli, PA
I agree with starting from a teacher created main page containing links to other pages. Each group could have a page off the main page. You could sign up for a wikispaces account to play around yourself. If there is interest, I could even set up a MediaWiki installation if anyone wants to play with the same software used by the Wikipedia.

If your school has a webserver available, there are many open source wiki engines available for free.
I created the wiki with some tables with spaces for questions and spaces for answers. Or spaces for topics. Then I made a rubric that assigned each group different topics/questions to fill in. This made student completion and grading a snap!
Our 8th grade team created wikis around the Amistad incident and the Industrial Revolution. You can see the wikis starting at kmsamistad5.wikispaces.com. There were four in total and you can find the others linked to the above. I wrote about a few things that helped make the project work on my blog.

Definitely follow the advice above to set up a wiki and play first. Wikispaces is pretty easy to use and they make it easy to manage student accounts. Check here and here for more info. Then I would suggest setting up a "sandbox" wiki. This is a place you can take the kids in to show them how to edit and they can just get the hang of editing, making new pages... I start it by putting some silly content on the homepage and pre-making enough links for everyone to have their own pages to start on. Let's see, we wrote about Goldilocks, bio's on the three bears, english muffins, how to ollie... you get the picture. They usually need only a day on that then they are ready to go.

We started the above wikis by having a couple of kids begin early and create the first page with links. Students then choose topics (most already linked) and began researching and editing.

From the classroom perspective it is valuable to stop now and then and let the kids get the big picture- put them in "read-only" mode for a bit and teach them to look for the holes.
Thanks so much for all of your replies and imput! It helped tremendously!! I'll share how it goes!

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