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Teaching Young Learners

Posts on the ins and outs of Teaching Young Learners

Showing posts with label Class Wiki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Class Wiki. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why Use Wikis in Classroom

Wikis are a good tool for teachers to use in the classroom it is easy to create documents that need to grow and change.  Documents in a wiki are not tied to time, so they can be continually modified.
You can use a wiki just as a blog in that you can use it to put course information, links to resources students are studying, embed videos.  You can also use it as a portfolio of students work. 

There are a couple of features that wikis have that can´t be beat.

Group Projects
They are the best for collaboration.  Collaborate with other classes at a local or a global scale.  Excellent for group projects.  For example you can do a team project to write about features of their city, with 4 students in each team. Assign each team a task for example one team can research and write about good restaurants in their city.  Another team can write about monuments and so on.  Each team can divide the task among the members.  The restaurant team can each write about one restaurant.  They can put it on the wiki and each team member can revise and edit each others entry.  You can assign another team to be the designers and final editors and they can go into each file and make it look better playing with layout, fonts and adding pictures and videos.  Then you as the final editor can go in and review.

Global Classroom Projects
If you are interested in doing a collaborative project with a classroom in another country here are some links that can help you get started.  Global Classroom Project has a directory of participating classrooms that you can contact and samples of some of the projects that classrooms have worked on.  Flat Classroom is another collaborative group that can give you access to global projects.  Another one is IEARN a non profit organization that has over 30,000 schools participating in 130 countries. They have been around for over 25 years.  You can also check this website which has a list of more ways of finding global partners to collaborate with.

History Revert Back
One of the best features of a wiki is this ability to go back in time to an earlier version.  Suppose that you are almost done with you group project and one student makes a mistake and deletes a major part of what has been written, no problem you can go back to the previous version before he made the mistake and recover the information.  Suppose another students overwrites what another student or you wrote, same thing, just go back to the earlier version before the overwrite and recover the information.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Tools for your Students Wiki/Blog Projects

Here are some tools for you and your students to use in your classroom projects.  I've organized them in order of the type of tool.

Create animations



Photo Edit


Various Tools
Read Write Think

A sample of a presentation done on Prezi:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Incorporate Writing and Vocabulary into Class Wiki

Creating the wiki for my classroom was easy, the harder part was figuring out how to incorporate it into my class.  The first way I used it was to post lesson vocabulary, grammar explanations and resources.  Then I began having students post their writing.  But it was still not achieving what I wanted which was to have students interact more with the wiki in order to learn more.

One thing that I did was to have students critique each other's work.  I assigned each student a partner and they had to give each other feedback.  I set the rule that they needed to give three comments two compliments and one revision.  The reason to do this is that you don't want students to go overboard on their critiquing and you want it to be a positive experience for the ones receiving the critiques.

At first I had set up a table with students names on it in one column and on the other column the student would enter their writing.  When students critiqued each other they would enter it underneath the student's writing in a different color. It was pretty rudimentary and I was not very happy with it.

The changes I made to this system have made it much easier and more interactive.  First I entered the description of the assignment on a page with the name and date of the assignment.  Then I entered a discussion post giving them instructions how to enter their writing.  Then I checked to Monitor Topic so that I would get emails when the students entered their writing.  It also has a Lock Topic button which is useful if you want to set a deadline for students to enter their work.  

The other thing I implemented was to have them interact more with the vocabulary we we're learning.  I assigned each student three vocabulary words.  On the Unit vocabulary page I posted a discussion where students had to enter a sentence using each of their words.  This made students review the vocabulary word definitions that I had posted in the wiki, instead of waiting until before the test to review the vocabulary.  In class students shared their sentences and we corrected some of them if they need it.  

Researches say that it takes 7 times for a student to interact with a word in order to learn it and 21 times in order to start using it.  If students only see a word when we first learn it and then when they have to review for the test that is only two times, that doesn't do much to increase their vocabulary.

Monday, February 18, 2013

How to Set Up a Class Wiki

To set up your class Wiki you need to choose what platform you will use.  There are several free ones.

WikiMatrix is a great online matrix that lets you compare all the wikis available depending on what your needs are. Or you can click here for a comparison of the different wiki providers.

I used because when I started it was the one I knew more about. To start I signed up at this link Teachers.  Students and teachers can sign-up for free and get a free upgrade where you can do more customization.  The sign-up is quick and easy. You need to enter a username, password, email address, choose a Wiki Name and the Industry you work in.  You will then be asked to certify that the wiki will be used for K-12 or or higher education. You can either choose a Basic Wiki or an Editable Website.  I chose the Basic one because it seemed easier.

Once you have done this it will create your wiki.  The nice thing about wikispaces is that it will then take you through an interactive tour to get you started.  You can edit your first page, customize your logo, change the look and feel of the wiki and more, all while the tour is guiding you step-by-step.  You can exit out of the guide tour at anytime by clicking on the exit button.

One of the first things I did on my wiki was to change the navigation.  To do this just click on edit navigation link on the menu.  You will be taken to an editable page where you can enter all the links you would like to have in your menu.  You will see a widget that says navigation, I got rid of it, because I wanted mine to look more like a regular website menu.  Once you enter your list, you need to select each entry and link it.  This creates a page for that entry.  For example if I have a menu item called Resources, I select it, then click on the  link button.  This will open a window where you should choose Page or File.  Click on the Add Link button and there you are you have your first page.  Continue like this with the rest of the pages you want to create.  Once you save the Navigation page, you can click on the links you created.  If you click on the Resources link you created it will let you know that there is no content yet in that page just click on the Edit button and it will take you to the page and you can get started working on your page.

To further set-up your wiki you can click on the Help button. It will guide you through adding a file, inviting others to your wiki, setting permissions and more. You can also find more help for setting up your wiki at the Wikispaces blog.

Other Resources:
List of Best Wiki Engines
Wiki Markup tips

If you want to get more guidance on setting up a wiki in wikispaces here is a very thorough video.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Teachers Are Using Blogs and Wikis

35% Have students and/or instructor-run blogs  22% Are involved in creating or maintaining Wikis.

From trying out both,so far, I have gotten a lot more out of the blog than the wiki. It makes me wonder why more Teachers are using blogs than wikis? What has your experience been with Blogs or with Wikis?