I'm gearing up to work with drawing monsters with my second grade students on the wiki Anna Baralt and I started a few years ago. At the end of the project last year, I put together a Voicethread to find out what we can do better. I am making some adjustments that reflect those comments. I hope it continues to be a great experience for all involved.
I set up a Voicethread and gave the URL to only those teachers involved in the project. I wanted the information to be restricted to those teacher who participated or will participate with a class. As a result, I'm sharing the questions, the changes I am making, and paraphrased comments - but not the actual link to the Voicethread.
The Changes for 2010
Anna and I created a Google doc to help the teachers share their contact information. They now have access to this document. I have added a spot for the teacher to note extended school closings and the start of summer break. Finally, I have added anchors to the wiki so that the teachers can quickly jump within the main page to the row containing their class information.
To Create a Wikispace Anchor
I edited the page. The screen already has text with the class number 1, 2, 3, and so on. I clicked next to the number 1 and chose the "Insert Link" icon.
Next I chose the tab labeled Anchor.
I chose an anchor name, e.g., class1, class2, and on to class52, and then click the "Add link" button. You will see a little anchor symbol where the anchor was added.
Now the teacher can go directly to their class. I will bookmark the following link to get directly to my classes:
The Actual Questions
1. Approximately when did you start working with your students? Do you feel you had enough time to work on the project to your satisfaction?
I've learned that we should have a method for the partners to communicate their breaks and when school ends.
2. Was there enough information on the main teacher page to help you keep track of where you and your partner school were on the project? What can we do to improve it next year?
Again, the ability to communicate breaks and the end of school year dates is something I will make sure to include in this year's project.
3. Did you find the email, Wikispaces mail, and discussion tabs useful in communicating with your partner? Do you have suggestions for next year?
It seems like communication overall went very well.
4. Did you use RSS feeds to a reader to keep up with the changes on the wiki? Was it useful, overwhelming, or did you find another method that worked well for you?
Two suggestions were to use email from specific pages and to subscribe to all discussions via RSS, but only subscribe to the main partner page updates.
5. How did you prepare students for the project? What did you do that others may want to try next year?
A photo of a word web created in one classrrom will be uploaded to the wiki.
6. Lessons Learned: What would you do differently to prepare the students to draw the monster? What worked well?
One teacher brought up a description that matched the monster and one that was not very complete from a previous year. They tried to draw the monsters from the description. A lot of students seemed to get it after doing that as a class. It was done at the end of the project, and will be done by this teacher at the start of the project this year.
7. Please share what you learned as your students tried to describe the monster. What did you wish you did? What went really well?
If a teacher only sees a class once per week, it is helpful to have the classroom teacher help get the writing completed in class.
Another point made is to set a base expectation for the descriptive writing. For example, if your student says the head is a red circle is it a red outline with a red fill or is it a red outline with a white fill. This does become confusing rather quickly. Last year I had students specifically write: a circle with a green outline filled with white.
8. How did they day of the drawing go?
Some students tried to draw the original with too much detail.
If the student finds there are details missing, it's important to tell the student to make a choice on their own. If the description does not say what color something is, they should choose a color of their own.
9. What surprised the students about the process? Did they enjoy it? How did you go about comparing the monsters with the students?
Overall, even the students who wrote in great detail enjoyed finding the differences. It was mentioned that a Skype call between the classes at the end of the project would be a great culminating activity.
10. What would you tell someone who had never worked on this project before? What were the difficulties and unexpected benefits?
It's a great project that teaches the students to work on adjectives. It is a great project to get your feet wet if you have not used a wiki as a teacher.