Wikis, My PLN, and Connectivism

I teach a class called math lab for middle school kids who struggle a bit in mathematics. I have five 48 minute periods of seventh graders on even days and five 48 minute periods of eighth graders on odd days. I have created a wiki for each grade that I have been using to manage classroom activity and also to create links to some fun math sites. Feel free to check them out by clicking the respective grade levels above. Any feedback that is given is greatly appreciated. Those two spaces are public but only members can edit the pages. I have not yet let kids set up accounts or create their own pages on these wikis and I do not know if I am going to do that without a very clear purpose. I have created some other spaces that I plan to utilize for specific units…the first being a unit on fantasy football. It is so convenient to be able to edit lessons as I, or my partner, Mr. Swartz are teaching them and also have a copy of what we worked on for absent students.

In our middle school we have a class called homebase that meets four days each week, two of which are club days, for a little less than 25 minutes each day. Homebase time is usually spent doing planned activities like cleaning out lockers and binders. So, after all is said and done, I probably have about an hour each week with my homebase kids to teach them about how to utilize the web for reflective thought and journaling. My homebase wiki is private although I have invited a couple of people from my PLN to comment to the kids and let them know what they think about various journaling my students do. In the past, by the end of each year, Homebase has become somewhat of a boring place for me and students I have had as well. I am attempting to change that with the use of the wiki and letting the kids decide how we will organize our homebase. Part of this has been to get a class pet for our room (check out turtle’s page). Currently we are reflecting upon a challenge proposed by a group to remember Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine shooting. The five components of the challenge can be seen below:

We had an assembly last week about Rachel’s Challenge and I believe that it gave us a great place to start as far as reflective journaling (blogging) went. I have created several wikispaces for utilization in my classroom and I felt I had better let my PLN know what I was doing with my wikis so they could provide me with some suggestions. I had an excellent twitter conversation with Paula White about wikis and critical friends and she actually joined my homebase wiki and we started communicating and discussing some suggestions she had for me. My homebase students who have parent-signed permission slips, have begun identifying goals and role models, and reflecting about Rachel’s challenge. Those without permission slips signed and returned, have started journaling the old fashioned way. Some of the planning, goals, and reflections have been thoughtful and well written, but more importantly, they have shown me aspects of my students’ lives and personalities that I would never have ordinarily been made aware of. I have been given numerous opportunities to begin developing relationships between my students and their peers that I wouldn’t have imagined possible only a year ago.

The final wikispace I am developing is for a new club at East Middle School. It will be private as well as each student has begun creating his or her own web page and getting familiar with the wikispace platform. The wikispace will be used to record the activities of our new computer club including work in in a program called Quest Atlantis. I was trained in QA over the summer and continue to learn about it as I implement it into my practice. See my Quest Atlantis post from earlier in the year, or better yet, see Scott Merrick’s post from earlier in the month. Besides the wiki, and another blog I created, my plan is to utilize a group that Dean Groom created for my students on a ning called Teen Second Classroom. They will have the opportunity on that ning to collaborate and discuss virtual worlds and virtual education with students from the other side of the globe. I am very excited by the possibilities that this school year has presented and if any of the people who read this blog, people whom I consider to be members of my PLN, have any suggestions, criticisms, or evaluations of anything you see me doing, I would gladly welcome them.

On a personal note, I am beginning to realize and understand that I am not writing this blog for any other reason but to improve professionally. This blog gives me a venue to let my PLN know what I am up to in my classroom and in my professional life. People who read this blog know more about me and what I am trying to accomplish in my school than anyone in my school does. I think that is what CONNECTIVISM is all about. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I am connected to some mighty fine teachers from all over the world via twitter, second life, several nings, gtalk, plurk, Skype, and this blog. Mighty fine teachers who I like to call my PLN. I think that is what Connectivism is.

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4 Responses to “Wikis, My PLN, and Connectivism”

  1. You know how when you have a problem you begin to describe it to someone, and the solution hits you? I think blogging is like that – blogging makes you look at what is in your head, organise it and then express it in understandable form. It is almost a selfish activity that has a benefit far beyond its initial purpose.

    So blogging for your own development fits neatly into that. I hope that as part of your PLN I am able to value add to your thinking.

  2. As you certainly value add to my thought processes

  3. Wow, talk about going it all puns blazing! – I love the dialog in the wikis so far … you’re changing the world man, one pixel at a time!

  4. libraian2007 Says:

    I’ve been working on my weblog and added you to it. I hope that is okay. I want to keep connected to your work as well. You have good ideas about working with other people all over the world. Keep it up, Mr. A.

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