Using a Wiki to Teach American History - american-history-wiki

tansygoobertownInternet and Web Development

Dec 8, 2013 (4 years and 5 months ago)


in an

Exciting & Engaging Way



Hawaiian phrase meaning:

quick; fast; hasty; hurry

Used In A Sentence:
Eh, c'mon!

In English:
Can you please get a move on?

Hawaiian phrase “wiki
wiki” meaning “quick”.

An online web site software that allows
visitors to easily
edit, change, add, and
delete content.

Many can

to create a website.


is a well known, popular wiki.

Biggest online encyclopedia.


To” manuals for the
problems of everyday life.



wide travel guide, covers
destination guides, hotels and resorts.



Huge collection of user
content textbooks and guides.



Recipes and cooking related
wiki. Sections include: dishes, recipes,
cuisines and channels.




between Google Maps
and wiki
style editing.

Lets you browse, view, search and add descriptive
notes to any location on the globe.



Multilingual, comprehensive, user
edited dictionary.

Definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, sample
quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations.



An investment wiki with company
profiles and defined concepts.

Accessible from anywhere with a web

Great way to keep, organize, share, and
instantly access content, class notes, and other
related information.


Instantly collaborate with many without emailing
documents, keeping the group in sync.

Development of an idea.

The creation of a design.

The achievement of a shared goal or project.


Good for writing down quick ideas or longer

Your archive, because every page revision is

Exciting, immediate, and empowering.

Everyone has a say.

Your wiki and it’s content may not have a good
public face.

You may not want people to see your half
unsure, and speculative ideas.

Make your wiki private (for just the class or school),
not public, if possible.

Especially if students are posting their pictures or names on
their pages.

ou will want to block internet predators from accessing
students' personal information.

Free Plus Plan exclusively for K
12 educational use.

It has a tendency to get messier with time.

There's certain maintenance you need to perform,
otherwise it'll turn into unusable idea/content soup.

Its not a content management system.

You'll have to look after your own standards for

Create a Style Guide.

If you have a public wiki with open editing, you'll
need to patrol it to avoid content corruption.


Typed text is much easier to read than hand


Wikis can be developed over the entire semester,
school year or years of a student’s education.

Allowing him or her to see their own growth

Teacher(s) can also monitor growth over time.


Wikis can be searched, in the page and across the
entire collection of pages, allowing immediate access
to their contents.


Students can link to other pages within their wikis as
well as external web sites, bringing new bodies of
information together in one place.


Several people can collaborate on the same wiki,
allowing students to benefit from the strengths of
their classmates.


Wikis are still closely tied to the open
movement, so many wiki programs and services are

A space for free writing.

Debate course topics, including assigned

Share resources such as annotated
bibliographies, websites, effective writing

Maintain a journal of work performed on
group projects.

Discuss content and current events.

Require students to collaborate on

Example: An essay written by the entire class.

Compilation of lists of places, people,
concepts, including examples of the each.

Contributed by students.

Ongoing throughout the year.

Inspire students to write a

Study guides made by student groups for
themselves and peers:

ach group prepares the guide for one aspect of
the unit or responsibility rotates: one unit guide
per semester.

The wiki as the organizational and intellectual
epicenter of your class.

Wiki all assignments, projects, collaboration,
rubrics, etc.

What I Think Will Be on the Test wiki: a place to
log review information for important concepts
throughout the year, prior to taking the “high
stakes” test, AP test, or final exam. Students add
to it throughout the year and even from year to

An “Everything I needed to know I learned in
Mr./Ms. Teacher’s class” wiki.

Students add their own observations of ways the class
knowledge has spilled over into the “real world.”


Not So Frequently Asked
Questions) wiki on your current unit topic.

Have students post KWL entries

Add questions that occur to them as the unit

As other students add their “answers,” the wiki will
evolve into a student
created guide to the topic.

Example: Civil War FAQ.

FAQ could entirely supplant traditional classroom
activities, especially if you only see a few questions.

This would also depend on whether your students have
consistent computer access in schools or at home.

Build a local city/state history wiki, documenting
historical buildings, events, and people within
your community.

Include interviews with those who can comment on
historical events from the World War II era or the day
the mill burned down, etc.

Allow adult community members to add their input
by signing up for “membership” in the wiki.

This project could continue on for years and actually be a
service to the community.

Perhaps the area historical society would provide some

Products of research projects.

Especially collaborative group projects: civil war battles,
historical movements, the American electoral process, etc.

Remember that the products do not have to be simply
writing. They can include files, images, audio, videos, etc.

Creating an organizational structure for the content is an
important part of the project.

An annotated collection of EXAMPLES from history:
supply/demand, capitalism, entrepreneurship,
artifacts, etc.

Include illustrations/media wherever possible.

A mock
debate between candidates/
historical figures or parties.

Composed entirely based on research students
have done on the person/group.

A day in the life of an American historical

Detailed and illustrated historical timeline.

A “fan club” for your favorite president(s) or
famous historical figure(s).

A virtual tour of a particular time/period in
history or a

travel brochure wiki:

se wikis to “advertise” for different historical
locations and time periods.

Before classroom use, you need to populate the
site with information for your students.

This gives your students an example of how to
interact with the wiki, and guidelines on what they
should be doing.

Introduce students to the rules for wiki use:

Post it or link it to the front page so that students
have the correct
Wiki Etiquette

and that the material
is suitable to the school environment.

It is important that students know that they will be
watched for the material they post and that it is not
derogatory or unsuitable in any way.

Develop a system for recording the efforts and
accomplishments of individuals.

You can accomplish this by having students sign the pages
they author or contribute to.

Students can also have their own sections.

Give your students a place to play.

A place where they can experiment with colors, fonts,
uploading pictures, videos, etc.

It doesn't have to be school
related, maybe a place where
they can introduce themselves or educate their classmates
about something they're interested in personally.

These can be the students' "MySpace" pages for school.

Talk with students about the conventions they will
establish for co
authoring texts.

At Wikipedia, for example, the authors' names are not listed on
the articles. Instead, users need to select history to see who
wrote what.

Create a Style Guide: a guide to the writing customs and
the culture of the wiki.

Have students collaboratively write a Style Guide for their wiki.

Here's an example

of a Style Guide.

Ask students to play particular roles.

One role could be a "Guard"
the person who watches the wiki
pages and ensures that spam or bad edits are not entered,
undermining the hard work of the

Add student assignments and instructions

Post it or link it to the front page.

If you have handouts, create a page called
"Handouts" and upload the files there.

Use your table of contents

Click "Edit this" and you'll be able to use the
Sidebar as a table of contents that appears on
every page.

Many of our best educators use their Sidebar to
list their project teams for easy navigation.

Create lots of pages to avoid edit collisions.

Generally, two people can't edit the same page at the
same time.

Avoid thumb twiddling while waiting for the page to become

Instead, create lots of pages!

Create a page for each project.

Even consider creating a page for each student where
they can save all the stuff they find.

With lots of pages, your wiki becomes more usable.

Create a structure of the pages.

Create some pages and then set up some structure for the
students to follow.

Could have the students help with the structure design.

Screen Names.

Set up a naming convention to avoid unsavory names.

Students will be able to recognize each other by name.

Encourage collaboration.

By setting up project pages and encouraging cross

Even if the students are primarily using their own pages, they
can take advantage of the collaborative nature of a wiki by
linking to project pages, to school or library resources, and to
each other's pages.

Use attachments and media.

Use lots of attachments (i.e. PDFs).

Images, audio, video, widgets.

Create lots of references and links on the wiki.

reat your wiki front page as a short,
introductory page w/links to other pages.

Type a few bullet points and create links to the

Wikis conflict with traditional assumptions
about authorship and intellectual property.

Students are sometimes reluctant to contribute
to wikis because:

They lack confidence in their writing.

They worry about not receiving credit for

Or they do not like their ideas, words, contributions
being revised or deleted without consent.

Some teachers and students are uncomfortable
about the advantages and disadvantages of
public writing.

Some students do not like having to learn
how to use wikis and/or find even the
relatively simple steps for editing or posting
work daunting.

Options can be limited.

Not presentation or content management

Restoring old versions may be easy, but the
editing process can be a hassle at times.


Is the information accurate?

Does it meet your objectives?


How have your students used the wiki to create

Do they invite criticism?

Are they polite when they agree or disagree with
another person?


A successful wiki has a clean, crisp design.

This means legible fonts, good color choice (no yellow
text on a green background!), and a structured layout.


Are the students making it easy for people to use the

Have they created links to other wiki pages, outside
sources, or created a table of contents?

Was it easy to find information on their wiki?

Using Tools:

Are they using audio, video, pictures, chat programs, or

Why a Wiki:

What about the wiki presentation makes it more
successful than sharing the information in another format?

How has the wiki portrayed information better than a
paper, essay, or speech?


Have the students attacked this project in a particularly
creative way?

Did the shoot a video, upload it on YouTube, and then link
to it on the wiki?

Create a grading Rubric to help with



Simply choose a wiki provider, create an
account, and start creating.

Wiki Spaces





Confirmation Question

was your first teacher’s name?






Wikis are incredibly flexible, so think outside
the box and start playing.

Wiki Walk

Educational Wikis

Compare Wikis of your choice in a side
side table.

Blue Valley High School History Wiki.

This page contains 21st Century podcasted
Fireside Chats. These chats, written and created
by 7th grade social studies students, will explain
major events of the Great Depression.

History Timeline Wiki on Google Maps.

Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL)

Room 344



CTL Web Site:


Community College

444 Green St

Gardner, MA 01440