Using Wikispaces in less than 30 minutes

Do you have a wiki?  Do you hear that work and kind of brush it off? Do you wish you had one but don’t have the time and are not sure you would even use it?

I was you!

My class are knee deep in their How We Express Ourselves unit and we are writing poetry like it is our job. They are loving it and so am I.  But what to do with it all?  We have writing folders for paperwork and we have computer folders for online documents but that just wasn’t enough. I wanted somewhere for the kids to publish their work in a way that worked for them, allowed them to see each others work and be inspired by it, comment on each others work and enter into a real community of poetic learners.  Cue: THE WIKI.

I had never made one. But I found a really cool poetry wiki of a high school class and I knew that is what I wanted. This surprised me because as you will see, the wiki itself is not particularly beautiful – and I like beautiful things.  But it was really, really functional (my husband would be so proud!) and so I knew this was it.

Here’s how simple it is to do:

1. Go to Wikispaces and in the “Join Now” box on the left-middle of the page, click “I’m a Teacher”.

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2. Choose a username (this can be changed once every 30 days if you so choose), a password, and enter your email address.

3. Fill in some biographical information to prove you are using this for educational purposes and name your wiki (this can be changed later if you wish).

4. Your Wiki is ready!

5. Look to the far right/top of the screen for your information:

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I am the Avocado Alligator and my one wiki is called “4Dpoetry”.

6. To add your students, click on your wiki, click on “Settings” (top right) and then click on “User Creator” on the left column:

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7. Here is the thing I really love.  After clicking on ‘User Creator’ you have the option of how you will add your students:

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I chose the second option and a small box opens for you to type in names (one on each line). I made up names by putting together a color and an animal with the same initial letter and then the number 44 just in case someone else was as clever as me!  After typing in the names of all your kids (or enough pen names to be able to match one to each child) hit ‘next’ and you get this screen:

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You can see I added “PolkadotPanda44” to my list of usernames. I kept it all as one word.  I then kept the first box checked ‘no’. The second box kept as ‘Column 1’, and the third box as ‘These users do not have email addresses’.  I also had Wikispaces generate the passwords for me. Basically, get to the page and just click ‘continue’!  You may find there is a warning if your name is a double-up, so be creative and add perhaps two or three more names than you will need so you can delete any that may not be suitable (already in use).

When you ‘continue’, you have the option of printing a list of usernames and passwords.  We have a studybook with a section for usernames and passwords so these went in there. I allocated usernames with some input from the students.

Finally, create a page for each student by clicking on the + sign next to “Pages and Files”:

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I made a page for each student and the home page explains the purpose of the Wiki. When you add a new page, you do have to put something on the page in order to create it (I just wrote on each page, “This is the poetry page of the Golden Gorilla” etc). The rule for us is that on the wiki, we are always referred to by our Wiki Name. I haven’t investigated the use of the ‘Projects’ feature but my initial look tells me you can create an assignment and assign different students groups to work on tasks together. It looks good but I don’t have a use for it just yet. Check out the Wikispaces Blog for more information on the Projects feature.

Here is what I like about this:

1. It is free

2. You don’t need email addresses for your kids

3. The editing interface is super simple

4. The speech bubbles let you start conversations with other users

5. The clock icon shows when edits have been made and by whom (in case work is “accidently” deleted!).

6. It is really easy to add screenshots, upload photos, or to import images via web addresses.

Most of all, I love that my kids love it!  When we started, I had the homepage as my domain but not my own animal/color name or page.  I changed my name to be like the kids and I created my own page.  I started adding work to my page as a model for what they could add to their page. They were excited that I had gone from ‘sterborg’ to ‘AvocadoAlligator’ and used the message feature to get in touch.  Here is what one student said:

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“Welcome to our Community”. I didn’t need to tell them that this was their special place – they were telling me that it was ours. Perfect!

I saved the best for last, though!  You can go to “settings” and click on “Exports/Backups” and from there, download a PDF of your Wiki. If you have set it up the way I have with a page for each child, these pages become “Chapters” and all their work (including formatting) will be stored in one document:

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At the end of the unit, we can print a copy of our poetry anthology!

If you are more of a visual/auditory learner, check out this video explanation:

Choose To Be Passionate

I saw a post on a blog about being passionate, and it really resonated with me.  Check it out yourself, but in a nutshell it proposes the idea that instead of waiting to be filled with passion (putting you in the passive role), you actively pursue passion.  Approach your work, your “art” with great passion and enthusiasm and ‘bring it’ – you ARE passion.

I keep rolling this idea around in my head. There are lots of ways to think about this and I think the reason it resonates so loudly with me is because I have continually come up against (but not in a really negative way) students (or parents) who declare that they “don’t have a passion” or “aren’t passionate about anything” and those statements really put up road-blocks when you are embarking on a Passion Project!

For those embarking on Passion Projects, Genius Hour, or the PYP Exhibition, I say to you, keep pushing on! I believe that we all have in us the passion to live a fulfilling life and I think that starts with 1. Loving what you are doing. 2. Doing it wholeheartedly. 3. Helping others realize their passion too. So you might not know what you are passionate about but you can work with passion. I have been posting a lot about starting with questions built from concepts, but maybe some of our students just need to start by helping others who are already on track with their passion? Perhaps passion is born from inspiration, from the sharing of ideas, from seeing the fires other people have lit?

In my dream world, such projects look like this:

Be Inspired!

 

A never-ending process of giving and receiving inspiration from each other – the ‘other’ being those in the room, down the hall, in the school, in the community, or out in the connected, internet-world! Show up. Be passionate. Learn from each other. Repeat. Like love, passion shouldn’t be a chore, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve work.

If you haven’t seen this gem, take 2 minutes.  If the message doesn’t inspire you, the gorgeous lettering surely will!

Inspired to Inspire from Nathan Yoder on Vimeo.

 

And if you are still looking for inspiration to get you really passionate take a look at this blog post.  Pennies of Time is a blog dedicated to ‘teaching kids to serve’ and has a post highlighting other blogs with a similar message.  Mostly on the topic of random acts of kindness and ways to be giving, these are all very child focused ideas that could provide a springboard for inspiration and the development of passion. Click on the image below for more:

BloggersInspires Collage

Concept-Question Cards

UPDATED: The cards have been updated here to include related concepts! 

 

concept cards 1

Last year, I wrote a post about Questioning Conceptually.  The basic premise of this post was a look at how teachers and students could use the PYP concepts to deepen their inquiries through the generation of a wider range of questions. The post goes on to help narrow the focus of the inquiry into an area of interest that one is really passionate about, that you care about, and that is worthwhile spending time on.

I followed this up with another post about the same topic: More Conceptual Questions.

Both of these posts make reference to a set of Concept-Question Cards.  These cards have one side with a PYP concept, guiding question, and explanation and another side with sample questions from different subject areas.

I have had sets of these cards in my ‘toolbox’ for some time now.  They are great.

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To download a PDF set of cards, click here.

Let me know what you use them for!

And The Winner Is…

I am giving away two copies of Seth Godin’s book, The Icarus Deception.  I wasn’t sure of which scientifically proven method I should use to pick the winners, so I enlisted the help of my daughter.  At eight months old, she is already very helpful. 🙂

All the names of the commenters were written on tape and stuck onto her blocks. The blocks were lined up.  And she was off! Criteria for winning: block had to end up in her mouth.  Here are the winners:

Here I come!

Here I come!

 

Which one shall I get?

Which one shall I get?

 

This one! Congratulations to Isabelle Le Gal

This one! Congratulations to Isabelle Le Gal

 

And this one! Congratulations to Melissa Scott!

And this one! Congratulations to Melissa Scott!

 

Thanks to everyone who commented. Your comments were empowering.  I wish I had more books!

Melissa and Isabelle – please send me your preferred postal address to sonya.terborg@gmail.com

 

Don’t Wait For The World To Whack It To You

I am tired. And I should be in bed. But I am reading my email because the tiny human, furry human, and loving husband are in bed and the house is quiet.

And just delivered from GapingVoid is this little gem, hot off the press:

Shine Your Light

It comes with this explanation from Hugh:

Instead of waiting to be hit by the light, I decided to become the light instead.

It was my decision.

It was also one of the happiest and most profound moments of my life.

To use a familiar tennis metaphor, you’re spiritually better off once you teach yourself to always keep the ball inside your own court. Don’t wait for the world to whack it to you. A-men.

~Hugh MacLeod

I have had a lot of work to do with my students pastorally the last few weeks. I think we have reached the tipping point and things are now on the rise.  I hope this is true.  One of the things that changed my outlook on the situation was when I stopped and remembered one of those lists that I had read once – you know, the “things that you need to remember to live a happy and fulfilled life” lists. It was this one.

And part of that list read:

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Never take things personally.  Let me repeat that: NEVER TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY.

I really started questioning what I was doing as a teacher – or more specifically, what I was (or wasn’t) doing that was resulting in the behavior I was seeing.  How had I gone wrong?  What had I done?  Why am I so terrible at what I am supposed to love doing?

Then I remembered #8 and I remembered #10 and I remembered that according to #7 the Universe (which at the time meant a very supportive and proactive Principal) had my back.  And I decided to take a different tack. I decided to be the light. I decided to take the ball instead of waiting to be whacked – repeatedly – in the head with it.

I did all these things and then Hugh, bless, made me my own cartoon to commemorate my somewhat disastrous but ultimately insightful week.

A-men.

More on Mindset

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about developing a growth mindset , in particular in math class.  Engage their Minds chimed in with more great resources for developing a growth mindset.  It’s something that clearly people are thinking about.

One of the ideas I had was to follow in the steps of the Khan Academy and add an inspiring quote or statement to printed papers I gave my students to encourage them as they learned.  I was going over the types of fraction work my kids needed and was about to print some customised worksheets for them to practise from Math-Aids.com when I noticed that at the end of each worksheet is a box for you to add instructions or other text.  What a perfect spot for a growth mindset quote!

And then I thought, why not let the kids create both their own learning pages and add their own words of encouragement?  So I did.  And they were great!

Give it a go!

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Awesome Website: Canva

Canva-Logo

I was introduced to a new (beta-stage) website that is a design platform for those who find programs like InDesign and Photoshop a little wieldy. It is called Canva.  It is free with email or Facebook signup and has loads of possibilities for school use – the most prominent being to provide students with templates that can be customized to produce really slick presentations, infographics, posters and more. Their blog has lots of design ideas and I personally found the site very intuitive and easy to use. A lot of the features are free but some of the more ‘premium’ graphics and backgrounds are available for purchase. 

The introduction came via a blog I follow, written by a woman with a passion for writing and a desire to see children flourish as writers. I have posted before about Patricia Zaballos and her Writers Workshop and I really enjoyed her take in her latest post on using tools such as Canva for students to create their own infographics as a way of representing the research they have done. Take a look at her full post here. 

In honor of Patricia, I used her blog to try out one of the templates:

WONDER FARM

 

 

Our current unit is on How We Express Ourselves and the different reasons Artists create art.  I want my kids to take a look at some TED talks that highlight different art forms so I then went ahead and made the following graphic to share with my class tomorrow.  Clicking on the names takes you to the website. 

MY TOP 4 FILMS (1)

 

Simple.  Beautiful. Worth your time. 

Go check it out!