In the recent e-newsletter from Wikispaces there was a call for sharing stories about using Wikispaces. Here is my response to them. It's a little pro-wikispaces, but as I was writing it I realized that each year I am finding even more ways to use and tie this resouce into the daily work of my classroom. Here are a couple of non-Wikispaces wikis that I used this year as well: Black Ice literature circles, A Thousand Splendid Suns book study.
I began using wikispaces in my high school English classroom two years ago. In 2007 I learned about the power of using web 2.0 tools in the classroom at the VAIS (VA Assoc of Independent Schools) annual technology conference. After feeling overwhelmed, and a little inadequate because I was "behind the curve," I quickly started my own blog and wikispace. This is my main resource for my students now. On it I share my curriculum, classroom resources, and publish student work. Students have enjoyed using the discussion board feature to comment on each others' work. I have also created wikispaces for particular projects throughout the year. I have juniors work cooperatively in literature circles online. Here they complete their homework to prepare for the in-class group work, then record their group notes for the day. In a senior level course this year, students worked cooperatively to create a class novel. They used wikispaces to share their ideas and early drafts with each other to help them develop cohesive characters and plot lines. My sophomores have used wikispaces to work with a partner to complete research and present historical topics to their class.
I love using wikispaces because it is flexible and easy to manage. It has helped me take my previous lesson plans to a new level, making them more effective and meaningful to my students. My focus as a 21st Century teacher is on engaging my students in my curriculum to foster their own appreciations and curiosity in persuing the subject beyond my classroom. Wikispaces gives me the place to do this transparently online. Getting my students to think and work online cooperatively with each other and with me, is one of the greatest values of wikispaces that I have found.