So here we are two weeks away from the AP exam. We are done with content, but we are in the midst of six days of state and NCLB testing, limiting my interaction with my AP kids. After trying to figure out the best way to review for the exam, I finally decided upon a mini-Wikipedia-like project for three of my eight precious review days.
I drew from the Snapshots and Comparisons section of the AP World curriculum overview from the CollegeBoard, assigned groups, and set up a wiki. It fits the micropedia wiki design pattern perfectly.
Essentially, each group is given a topic that we have covered in varying degrees over the course of the year. Once they have research the topic and created a short and concise article addressing the important elements of topic, they are to post it on the wiki. Then, in phase two, the groups go through and validate two other articles – making corrections and additions where needed. If all goes as planned, by next Friday (five days before the exam), my students will have a solid collection of study guides.
I do another wiki project on the Holocaust (which I will be speaking about at NECC 2006 in San Diego) and have been considering the Wikipedia-style wiki idea for a while. This project just seemed to fit. My use of Moodle throughout the year has fostered an informal online community that goes across all four sections of my AP classes. Plus, this way the students are able to divide the work over four classes allows me time to still do some directed review in class.
I am using MediaWiki (the same engine as Wikipedia) installed on my server. The installation was a snap. While I am pretty tech-savvy, I am useless when it comes to code, Unix, and anything more complicated then html. My server has a tool that sets up the MySQL databases for me. Once that was done, I just uploaded the files and configured it through FireFox. In the MediaWiki help files I found code I could add to close registration and only allow registered users to post. This way no one else can contribute or cause us any problems (the openness of Wikipedia just doesn’t suit a high school project). I could have used the free SeedWiki or WikiSpaces, but I am a control freak when it comes to these projects and with the wiki on my server, I can exert all the control I want!
The first day went pretty well, most groups just did research, but a number began writing in the wiki. I’ll write more next week as they continue to take shape.
If you would like to see the work in progress, go ahead. Have a suggestion? Please comment!