One of the struggles with teaching classic literature (or any book for that matter which has found its way to paperback) is that you name it and a complete in-depth summary with complete analysis can be found somewhere online. Sensing my students weren’t reading “The Odyssey” this year, I tried using Wikispaces to combat these online summaries.
After I invited everyone in the class to our Wikispaces page and after everyone accepted the invites, I changed my homework questions from easily searchable plot-driven questions to something which proved to be far more meaningful.
First, I assigned a chapter to read and then asked students to choose 3 passages which they found to be particularly powerful or essential to understanding the story. The passages had to be a minimum of 5 lines and had to be a good representation of the chapter (this way they couldn't simply choose a bunch of quotes from the first page or two). Once they selected their passages, they had to write a 4-6 sentence response explaining the significance of their passages. The assignment had to be submitted electronically and a paper copy was brought to class.
When students came to class the following day, they were placed in pairs. Students were asked to share their responses with their partner, so in all, each pair had six passages. Each pair was then asked to pick the best two which would be shared with the entire class. Here’s where Wikispaces comes into play.
Finally, I took the best two from each group, and since I had the electronic copies, I posted them on Wikispaces. If there were errors (and there were) we made the corrections, and in the end we had a great collaborative assignment and an amazing student-generated review page for “The Odyssey”.