Step 1: Have faith in them.
Step 2: Set up a page on your class wiki where they can click on their personal wiki link. This helps those students in particular, who chose a long, crazy name for their site. For example, http://ts37’sstupendouslywickedwiki…. Note to self: next year, no long, crazy names!
Step 3: Give them time to explore, share, talk, move around, be amazed. Take this time to fix password glitches and log-in issues. Be sure to take a second to look around. It’s like you hit a magic switch – they start writing, on their own, without a prompt!
Step 4: Bring everyone back together to ask and answer questions, which helps to set the rules. Ask them, “Why do you think we’re doing this?” Metacognition skills surface. They know. “To show each other our work.” “To learn about internet safety.” “To show our parents what we’re doing.” They realize the maturity level that’s expected of them, without a word from you. They stop asking if they can add gaming links and wild videos.
Step 5: Show them the “how-to” page on the sidebar of your class wiki. Tell them they can click here for instructions on adding pages and links to their own site. Know however, that realistically, they’ll never use it; it’s more for you. Kids click, click, and click again, until they figure it out on their own. They will.
Step 6: Show them a great video with a message, such as Lost Generation. Model how to embed it into a page. They decide the video you showed is really cool and they proceed to embed that video with the powerful message into their own site. It was their idea.
Step 7: Give them more time to play. They forget they’re missing floor hockey in Phys. Ed. They continue to write, on their own, WITHOUT SPELLING MISTAKES. I am floored. This writing has not even been peer-edited. When I show my astonishment, they say, “Hey Mrs. D., someone’s going to see this!” Make sure you close your mouth because believe me, your jaw will drop.
Step 8: Forget to eat lunch. You are too busy complying with their requests to read their newly created pages. Tell them to remind you on Monday of their great ideas, because there’s too many to remember right now. Stop wondering if you’ll come up with enough creative projects for them to post on their site. Tell the struggling grade 7 writer, with the “Caramel Sundaes” page, to show her idea to the class on Monday.
“What’s the title mean?” I asked.
“It’s going to be a weekly summary of all the good things that happened to me each week.”
“Neat, but why the title?” I ask.
“Because all good things seem to happen on Sundays, ” was the reply. Cool.
Step 8, Part B: Prepare to meet a personal side of your students you’ve never seen before.
End of Day 1. Repeat Step 1: Have faith in your students.