After several terrific comments about my stumbling while trying to create a technology-driven word wall, I decided that a wiki would be the best place to start. I hopped over to Wikispaces (one of the web 2.0 companies NOT owned by Google) and set up a simple wiki.
It was quite simple really; just had to come up with a username for myself, then a name for the community (http://leswordwall.wikispaces.com), and in less than 5 minutes I had the wiki up and running and ready to go. Thus far I’ve only edited the home page and created one word wall for it. The slow going is not by choice, but rather by too much thought. After creating the home page I thought about creating 26 separate pages, once for each letter of the alphabet. I started to think about trying to maintain 27 separate pages, carefully monitoring them for mischief or spammers (I left the wiki wide-open in order to generate a true social experience). Then I thought better of it, and created just one word wall for the project that my 4th graders are currently working on. They’re writing super hero stories, and have needed words like “villian” and “adventure” spelled correctly, so I thought it might be better to have themed word walls.
I haven’t shared it with them yet, as I’m already running behind (by a couple of weeks thanks to standardized testing) on the project, and I wanted them to have something ready for conferences next week before I bombard them with this tool. in the meantime, I’m still trying to work out the best way to add words. My intial thought was just to have them edit the page and then add a new word to the end of the list. Nope, it needed to be alphabetized I thought. That created the additional problem of taking too much time in order to alphabetize the list as it got larger. Which then led me to inserting a table so I could create 26 columns, each for its own letter of the alphabet. After adding a few words to the table, I quickly realized that the table function on Wikispaces is a bit wonky (yes, wonky) and not always reliable. Clicking once on a cell allows me to type, but double clicking in the cell meant I couldn’t type a darn thing. This is defeinitely a problem as most elementary students I’ve worked with love to click on things 2 or 3 times just to make sure they have it. Perhaps it might be best to return to just the simple, unalphabetized list and just see how the project goes.
I’m really excited, and I don’t want my over-analyzing to ruin this project before it gets off the ground (as my wife tells my I have the nasty habit of doing). So perhaps I’ll jsut let the kids “play around” with the site to see which way they feel most comfortable with. It is a wiki after all, so I can always go back and change everything once they’re done editing and playing with different setups. That “history” tab is also nice, as I can always just go back and restore a previous version should they get a bit too rambunctious with editing.