Tips and tricks for wikis in classrooms. . . .

Parent letter and permission form: parentletter.doc

1. Kids do NOT have to have email accounts to become members of wikispaces. With both wikispaces.com and pbwiki, you simply send a list of your students requested wikinames and passwords to the help@ and they'll load them for you.

2. Make sure you go into the account for students and change the email box to only allow them to email members of spaces THEY are members of--otherwise they are open to the world.

3. Make their names and passwords something easy for YOU to remember so that you can always access each and every account. My first year I had them all add CRES (for Crozet Elementary School) after their name and the password was crozet--all lowercase. Now I give them different passwords--like three letters I know and their initials backwards, or the numbers that go with their initials. For example, their password might be cro79 for crozet and pw--matching the letters to numbers on a phone. Kids with same initials I add a c on the end of one of them, or reverse the order--paulacro with password of cropw OR pwcro--OR I leave it, as their name probably isn't the same.

4. I have them save ALL wikimail they send--I tell them this is for THEIR protection, so that if a parent says they sent a nasty wikimail to someone, I can go into their mailbox and show the parent they did not. ALL mail goes into storage.

5. I also tell them if they ever delete a wikimail, they are automatically off--that means immediate expulsion because I can no longer say unequivicably that they have followed all wiki rules, and I will not put myself in that position.

6. I spend the first week or so randomly reading all the wikimail they send and mentioning it to them so they know I am doing so.

7. I tell them every wikimail comes into my REAL emailbox (that's a setting in the "myaccount" tab). Email or DM me if you want more details on this one.

8. If you click on the notify me tab, you can get notified of EVERY change made if you click on the SPACEWIDE notification option. That's imp't because while you may be tight and monitor appropriaately while the kids are with you, they will access the wiki from other places and you want to know what they are adding. :-)

9. The history will show you every change made to the page--SHOW THAT TO THE KIDS so they know they cannot change anything without being traced. This will deter the pranksters in your group.

10. I have not used pbwiki or wetpaint, but HIGHLY RECOMMEND wikispaces, as the help folks are amazingly responsive--quick and extremely helpful. My fifth graders also found it extremely easy to use. Also (Melissa) wikispaces was the only wiki to get an A+ in review article from School Library Journal.

11. Address embedding videos, surveys, and anything else you can think of--my fifth graders figured out how to do it all with no instruction.

12. Be sure to remind them about copyright--while they are discussing and may use others' work for justification or defending their stance on something they need to remember to cite the source.

13. Remember that each space you set up is a site--with accompanying pages. Think through your organization at the beginning, and realize that each SPACE you make will need a link added in the navigation area by you to easily access from your main page.

14. Once they have a wikispaces account they will be able to create their own spaces, which you may not know about. Address that with the kids up front. That's something I'll be adding to the parent letter for this year.

That's all I can remember for now.
Paula