Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wikified English - Pt 2, HOW?

In my last post I wrote about the hypertext, "unconventional narrative" unit where students will publish short stories within a wiki with hyperlinks to show the intertextuality of their work with other texts. That post looked at WHY I am passionate (and more than a little excited) about this unit, in case you missed it you can read about it at - Wikified English - Pt 1, WHY?

Working past the WHY on this bright idea (please make sure you read that with a degree of self-deprecation...I have a feeling this project is going to become consuming) I'm moving into the HOW phase and I've been researching and collating resources for the unit the last few days and mulling over how to approach the task - with students and staff. Part of this is identifying what skills they're going to need I'm expecting a degree of resistance from students and staff and I'm trying to remember baby steps while I collate and plan.

Whenever I start work on a unit like this (totally new and included emergent - are wikis really emergent these days? - technology) I spend a fair bit of times brainstorming what skills and knowledge will we need to know in order to succeed? Usually I do this on paper, and it ends up fairly messy. Because I'm on holidays and I've had some time I had a play with Webspiration, the online version of Inspiration, a great mind mapping tool I've used with students in the past. This is how the first draft has turned out:

As I say, it's only a draft and there's probably a gazillion small things I haven't thought of, things I consider "basic" and need to consider.

So...HOW do I get my staff and students to the point where they have the necessary information? We get into the nitty gritty of the sequencing...if the above is kind of like my ingredients list, what's the method to use?

In the past I've started thing small - just my classroom, just one other teacher...this time it's eight classes of about 25 and the eight staff. I suppose I'm lucky in that I am one of the teachers and there's probably about 20-30 really competent students with our MLS from my classes last year that I'll be able to draw on for some help. There is also a couple of very keen staff who, while they don't yet have the skills want to learn. Given the situation my usual method isn't going to work.

Since the teachers need to understand what they're managing (notice a change in my usage here - for the majority they're going to be spending a lot of this unit learning, not "teaching"...oi, this is going to be a massive unit...is it too late to back out?) I'm starting with them on the student free days - doing some quick activities, providing a collection of resources, and workshops and support throughout the unit.

Then we work together on helping the students...this really will be a situation where we all need to collaborate to make sure this works...Staff and students are going to find it hard to approach this task in a 'traditional' way...or am I unduly complicating things?

That's a thought to ponder in tomorrow's post I think.

1 comment:

Shane Roberts said...

Nic, This is an inspirational idea. Well thought out and I believe you have identified the major barriers to its success. I look forward to reading about your journey with this project and the results. I'll be recommending the the English teachers at my school follow along as well. Great work.

Shane