After my post about Electronic Student Portfolios, I had many great questions in the comments asking for more details about how to start a wiki, or how I implement wiki’s in my classroom. Wiki’s are great for classrooms because you can control who can edit, comment, and even view the pages. You can make your classroom a private wiki that is only viewable by people that you invite. My student’s pages are publicly viewable, but only members of my wiki can leave comments on the pages.
To get started, you must first create your own wiki for your classroom. I use pbworks for education. I use the basic version, which is FREE! They do have an option with additional features that costs $99 for a year. But the free version has been enough for my classroom for the past four years, so it’s a great place to start. Click here to sign up for your free classroom wiki from pbworks.
You will need to add each student in order for them to create their own page or even comment on the pages. They will use their email address and create a password. I wait to do this until I am ready for them to create their pages and they have all read my wiki guidelines, which I got from the amazing David Cox. He’s way ahead of me with all things technology, so I just took a page from his book (thanks again David!). To add your students to your class wiki you can invite them using their email or have them requests access. Once added, they must be logged in with their email and password to edit or comment on the wiki. They will lose this password, so I have them write the information on the cover of their math notebooks.
Creating their own wiki page is very fun for them to do, and I count it as a project grade. I created instructions for my students to create their own wiki pages. The instructions I give my students are step by step and I expect them to read and follow the directions carefully. This can be challenging for middle school students at times. To help them find the answers to their many questions when they are creating their wiki pages, I created a Google Drive Question Documents.
Instead of raising their hand and not working while they wait for me to get around to them, I have them type their question into this Question Document, under the step number that they have the question on. This is important because this makes them read the question again. I reply by typing onto the document. Almost all of their questions are answered in the instructions so I usually instruct them to go back and carefully re-read the directions.
If you have never used a wiki before, I do not have a webinar or detailed instructions on how to use PBWorks. I just learned through experimentation and trial and error. However, I did find a free online tutorial made just for teachers that explains wikis using pbworks, so if you need more instructions, you could go there. I haven’t watched all of it but it seems very thorough! If you find a better instructional website, please feel free to add it to the comments.