Use of Technology in Real Classrooms

By Terry Funk

Moreillon, J., Hunt, J. & Ewing, S. (2009). Learning and teaching in wanda wiki wonderland: Literature circles in the digital commons. Teacher Librarian 37(2), p. 23-28.

Summary: This article discusses the collaborative experience of teacher and teacher librarian (as well as student teacher and graduate information and library science students) designing 8th grade literature circles – allowing students to work in four small groups on books (selected by the students) for a period of 6 to 8 weeks each. Themes included 1) American Southwest 2) Fantasy and Science Fiction 3) Historical Fiction and 4) Author Study. The teachers encouraged self-directed learning while meeting predetermined standards, objectives and deadlines. Successful characteristics of online collaboration includes openness, integrity and self-organization which the teachers modeled, taught through lessons in content, netiquette, design, Web. 2.0 tools, assessed with rubrics and checklists and then faded from as students took more ownership of the process. The students made the most progress in the fourth literature circle, and became more aware of their own thinking and learning processes during the year.

Evaluation: This is a good example of using both traditional print materials (books in literature circles) and Web 2.0 tools to collaborate and create new products digitally. The teachers adjusted teaching to help students become more sophisticated over the course of a year-long project – that is so that they would become better users of fair use, and copyrighted materials (citing when needed), and try new tools rather than leave it to students to learn on their own (self-directed learning). Going to the actual wikis, I see that students were able to participate and share new tech tools, teaching each other how they were able to use them, as well as discuss content (characters, plot summary, setting, defining and using vocabulary) and share original creations (such as artwork).