My 6th graders are in the middle of building wikis about a topic of their choice. It has been a journey of learning how to evaluate sites, how to locate information, how to bookmark sites using Diigo and take notes with the highlighting feature. They have learned how to create a wiki and plan out their front page, and they have had time to explore editing wiki pages.

Before we began building I had them plan out their site on paper using a template that looked like their wiki. However, as my students were building their sites I began to realize that they were putting all of their information on the front page. It was time to talk about pages and navigation.

We spent some time looking at websites and locating the navigation and discussing the purpose of navigation. We looked at the titles of pages and discussed why the titles had been chosen and whether they were helpful or not.

Back to the wikis and they still didn’t get it.

So, in desperation, I tweeted out a simple question:

 I got a lot of great responses, but one from my friend Michelle stuck out:

Today we gathered together and I had a student give his topic. I wrote the topic (lightning) in a bubble in the middle of the screen and then told the class, “Let’s pretend that Carl* is writing a book about Lightning. What chapters would you include in that book, Carl?”  He then provided names like Dangers of Lightning, Types of Lightning as well as a chapter dedicated to photos of lightning. Things were looking good…

I then asked a second student who I knew was researching an individual, to provide his topic. Since many of the students are researching famous people, it was imperative that we do a similar exercise with such a topic.

The second student provided his topic and his chapter titles. It clicked.

The students were then sent to their seats where they used pencil and paper to draw out a map of their book title (their topic) and the chapters. Most of them were bent over, intently listing their chapters and building their map.

The red check shows that I have read over and discussed their ‘chapters.’

The real proof of comprehension will come when I see them again on Friday, but I am fairly certain that they will be ready to start building their pages.

*not real student name

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