A Telecollaborative Project between a 4/5th grade class in CA and a 5th grade class in CT
read the article the further describes this project


Overview: Students will be introduced to the concept of a wiki and its features. Students will work in pairs to co-construct a wiki entry on a national park as a tellecollaborative project. Pairs will collaborate “virtually” with another grade class to edit, revise, and compose the entries. Both classes will examine the changes using the history features, and respond to any comments made by the other class.

Objective: Students will learn the purpose of a wiki and will construct a wiki in collaboration with pairs of students in a partner class. Students will use the comment features on the wiki to discuss ideas they will include in their writing with their partner class. Students will track the history of the wiki pages they created to see how their entries evolved over time through the process of collaboration.

Introduction: The Internet allows us to do many new things. One of the most exciting things is being able to share ideas with others quickly and easily. When you are able to talk about ideas with others, it can enrich what you learn by bringing you in contact with new ideas and new perspectives that you may never have thought of on your own.

Basically a wiki is space on the Internet that many people share and use for writing things together. For many reasons, they feel that writing cooperatively with others enriches the product they share because they can talk about it, ask each other questions, and expand what they want to find out about. Two brains or multiple brains working on the same thing are better than one.

One of the most well-known wikis available on the Internet is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone easily and quickly. Since every new reader has something new to share, collaboration enriches the experience. [Perhaps allude here to some of the potential problems and controversies surrounding Wikipedia. It would make a good discussion later.]

For example, lets look at the Wikipedia entry on the Hupa Native American Tribe of California http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hupa We could make edits to this page and everyone who views it can learn from what we know (demonstrate by adding a new fact onto the Wikipedia page using the “edit this page feature”). Depending on the class, This would be a good point it seems to bring up issues such as reliability, stability of information, etc.

Explanation of the Task: Today, we’re going to use a wiki to respond to a request that was sent to Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones classes from another Language Arts class in San Francisco. Show the Wiki Page about National Parks, and explain the task.

Go to http://newliteracies.pbwiki.com/National%20Parks (password nagano) Explain that students will be working in pairs to create a page on the Wiki about a national park (about 5 sentences with a picture). Tell students that another class (show their digital photo) will be reading their entries and adding on to the information, revising what was written, and reorganizing the ideas in order to make the entry as good as it can be. Classes will use the comments feature to ask questions of one another and make suggestions for what should be added, revised, or changed.

Example: Let’s look at an example of one that is completely done. See entry on Arches National Park http://newliteracies.pbwiki.com/ArchesNationalPark. (password nagano)

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Discuss briefly with the class and show: 1) how to use the edit page button to revise, change or add new information on to the page, 2) how to use the save button to record the changes, 3)how to use the comments feature to pose a question or make a request of the other class. Mention ways collaboration can occur to create the entry. For example, . . . . Allow time for students to make new discoveries of their own and to use unique strategies as well. For example, . . .

Directions: To begin, go to: http://newliteracies.pbwiki.com/National%20Parks and login in. Enter your first name and last initial and the password: nagano to log in. You don’t need to enter an email address. Once logged in, you can view the main page with the directions and click on the links to the parks to add/revise/rework the information posted by the other class.

Modeling: Show the directions and follow the directions to model what to do. Revise Arches National Park together as an example of how to use the specific features.

Step 1: Assign parks to pairs of students.
Step 2. Explore the Internet sites about your park that are contained on each site’s page (perhaps just choose one or two).
Step 3. Students from the class have started writing about each of the parks, telling the special qualities, location, and best sights to see in each park. Some have included a picture.
Step 4. Revise, edit, and add ideas to what other students have already started. Make your page as convincing as possible to get Jordan to visit your park.
Step 5. Read the comments that go with each page. This is where the other class has included questions or requests they’d like you to respond to. You can discuss your writing ideas with students from the other class using the comments section.
Step 6. Save the changes to your page when you are done.

Independent Practice: Provide work time for each pair to get going on the task.

Observe: Observe students closely as they’re working to look for instances of unique strategy use. When you find these instances, note them and ask students if they’d be willing to demonstrate and talk about these strategies in front of the class.

Instances of unique strategies (based on analysis of student work and observation):
Students were not taught how to create text boxes around facts but students choose to do so, and figured out how. See example below:

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Conversation with students who worked on the Bryce Canyon Page:

Researcher:“I notice that you created a text box around one of the facts on your page. It looks great. Why did you choose to do that and how did you do it?” Students’ response: “There’s a lot of text on the page and we wanted where the park was located to stand out. We created a text box by beginning that line with a space and after we typed in the fact, we hit return. We experimented to figure this out.” Researcher: “When we convene as a class today at the end of our work period, would you be willing to talk about your page, show us what you did, and explain how you created the text box and why. This strategy is one that other kids could use and would benefit from learning.” “Take some time now to practice what you will show us and what you will say.”

Closure: Discuss with the group things we saw pairs do that was positive. Point out places for improvement. If time, show one entry completed by pairs to positively reinforce a job well done.
Allow time for pairs of students to come up in front of the class to demonstrate their unique strategies. Choose a small number of students for demonstration based on careful observation and utility of the strategies observed.

Follow-up: Remind students that the partner class will be working on the National Park entries in the next few days, and that next week we’ll take a look at the pages to see comments from the other class and new contributions. We will track the history of each page, view the comments, and make final changes to the pages. We can then email Mr. Long’s class and Jordan in San Francisco that our pages are ready for viewing and that we look forward to a final decision about which park Jordan chose to visit.

Include a discussion of the advantages and limitations of wikis, the issues they have raised, when a wiki might be useful in relation to various activities and projects, etc.

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