Monday, March 05, 2007

Simple Wikipedia - Explore the Possibilities for Struggling Students

I recently learned about a version of Wikipedia that is especially beneficial for elementary and middle school age students, students with learning disabilities or students who are second language learners, called Simple Wikipedia. The folks behind Wikipedia have created this free, editable version "written in simple English for easy reading." In addition, they have created a Teacher's Guide for the Simple Wikipedia site.

So what's the big deal?

This site is exciting on several levels!

1. Do you have a challenging time accessing age appropriate text online for classroom instruction? This is an excellent resource where we can grab text for our students that is simplified, relative to other online encyclopedia resources. It is possible to attach a voice to it so that students can hear the text being read aloud which provides an independent, multi-sensory experience.

2. Do you need to offer differentiated instruction for your students? Then copy and paste text into Microsoft Word, use the auto-summarize feature and cognitively rescale the information for differentiated instruction in the classroom. This guide provides information about how to autosummarize text - "Autosummarize for Cognitive Rescaling."

3. Teaching your student's about online safety and the accuracy of online resources? The Teacher's Guide highlights instructional benefits of using Simple Wikipedia, including the following:

Most youths will likely at some point become involved in interactive online activities. For educators, youths' involvement with Wikipedia provides an opportunity to survey youths' understanding of online safety, and to teach appropriate practices. Educators can use Wikipedia as a way of teaching students to develop hierarchies of credibility that are essential for navigating and conducting research on the Internet.

Wikipedia provides an opportunity for teachers to discuss the concept of the public domain. Wikipedia is an opportunity to participate in an open community that relies primarily on mutual respect and cooperation, but which is not related to familiar authority figures some youths might tend to oppose.

Editing in Wikipedia is an opportunity to learn to participate in collective editorial processes. Wikipedia presents a ready opportunity for youths to research, compile and publish articles for peer review. For youths who contribute images, selection and production of an image provides opportunities to learn what a market wants from an artist. Youths who master skills for accurate writing and drawing about encyclopedic subjects are better equipped to develop their own style in more creative genres.

Because all articles in Wikipedia must conform to neutral point-of-view, students participating in collaborative editing activities on Wikipedia are building experience in detecting and eliminating bias in writing.

Another resource that provides instructional options.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The simple wikipedia is only simple English, readable for adults who don't read English well. It has nothing to do with the content and if it is appropriate for children. For example, there are still the same issues with the ejaculation article in the simple version as in the main version.