Using Wikis in the Elementary School

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OverviewAccording to, the definition of a wiki is a website that allows anyone to add, delete, or revise content by using a web browser. Jason Tomaszewski from Education World states that getting students to work online is a growing trend in education, and Web sites known as wikis have emerged as a cheap and easy way to do it.

Ways to Use Wikis in the ClassroomWikis are a wonderful way to bring information to our students in a quick and careful manner. Here are a few examples teachers can use wikis within their classrooms:

  • Pen Pals - Your class and your pen pal class have a joint wiki page where you share information. This information can be "getting to know each other" information or "what are you learning about" information. It gives students the chance to learn along with other classrooms that are not within their school or state.
  • Book reports - You can still use your same lesson plan for a "paper and pencil" book report, but add a twist at the end by incorporating the use of a shared wiki site to post the information each student learned from their individual book.
  • Choose Your Own Wiki - Have the students decide how they will use a wiki as a classroom project. Start with brainstorming, cast a vote, and let the wiki learning begin!
  • Ice Breakers - Every year teachers need to "break the ice"with their students the first day, week, month of school. Why not try an activity before the first day of school even begins? You could send each student a link to your classroom wiki, where they all need to add facts about themselves. This way on the first day of school, everyone is "acquainted" with one another and you can be ahead of the game with building your classroom community.
  • Please click on the following link to guide you to additional information for using wikis in your elementary classroom. Enjoy! Additional Information on Using Wikis in the Classroom

Advantages of Using Wikis in the ClassroomThere are many advantages to using wikis in the classroom with your students. Some of these include:
  • Wikis can be private or public. This is especially important when working with elementary students.
  • They are free to create. We all know teachers love freebies and there are no costs involved for the teacher or the student.
  • They only require basic computer skills for creating and maintaining them.
  • Students can be working on the site at the same time as their classmates.
  • Wikis can be applied to any content area.
  • Most users find them easy to search and navigate.
  • Wikis are a great way to build a community of collaborative learners.

Disadvantages of Using Wikis in the ClassroomWikis are a great way to enhance your student's learning, but there are a few disadvantages. Below you will find a list of disadvantages seen from the viewpoints of educators and parents:

  • Anonymous authors in wikis make it hard to trust the information they are posting as truth and factual.
  • It can take a great deal of a teacher's time researching if the wiki information is accurate and constantly maintaining the safety and integrity of what is being published.
  • The safety of each child using a wiki can be a factor on why a parent would not allow their child to use a wiki in their classroom. Is there a safety program in place and do parents have access to this?
  • The screen time each child could spend during the day researching using these social media tools could be detrimental to their vision, lack of physical activity, etc. It also poses the question, what became of the paperback book?

Top Wiki Sites for Teachers
Wikispace - This tool is designed specifically to for use in the classroom for teachers and elementary students. It can also be used as a classroom management tool by keeping the teacher and elementary students organized and on task. Wikispaces provides easy to use templates and is FREE. Teachers can also use wikispaces to share resources and create assignments.
Wikidot - Another great resource for teachers to use is Wikidot. Wikidot provides free easy to use website templates for teachers to share resources and create assignments. One cool feature of Wikidot is teachers can earn money by having ads on their website. Earning money is great for the teacher if they want to buy new materials or technology for their classrooms.
PBWorks. This is a great educational site that educators can use in their classroom. Some of its features include; student created web sites, student created web pages, and projects. All of these features can be shared among classrooms, students, and teachers.

FreedomShare. Here is a website that that is very easy to use that creates wikis. You can make these wikis public or private and can have the comments turned on or off. This would be a tremendous resource for teachers who just want to create a wiki space for their classroom and only include their students and the parents of their students.