Wallwisher is my best friend. I realize this sounds terribly sad and geeky, but it’s not every day that a website comes along that is easy to use, innovative, collaborative, educational, and free. Beyond all that, Wallwisher is easy to moderate, and there are no ads. (I feel like I need to give one of those “I am in no way connected to, or affiliated with” disclaimers.) If you have never seen Wallwisher, it is an online bulletin board where students place virtual post-its with textual information, photos, video, and audio. I can think of a zillion ways to use Wallwisher in the classroom, and below are a few projects I recently did with fourth and fifth grade classrooms that show the benefits of Web 2.0 collaboration.
A Mirage of Facts
Recently, the students in one of my fourth grade classes were learning about hot and cold deserts, and I wanted them to begin researching different types of desert environments. The initial plan was to gather facts and write them out in a Word document. However, instead of having them do this, I decided to create a desert fact wall that they could all collaborate on. As students located interesting facts, they posted them along with a picture.
The motivation of seeing their facts and pictures on a collaborative website was amazing. I had students asking if they could add more. And more! As the research continued and students added additional facts to the wall, they began to find more obscure and unique facts to add, all without any direction or push from me.
Virtual Vocab Wall and Writing Tips
Students in one of my fifth grade classes are very much into building their vocabularies. I found that a lot of students were looking up the same words as their classmates and saving them in their own personal lists. There was no collaboration or working together to learn more. We now have a vocab word wall that allows students to post new words and definitions as they come across them from wherever they are.
Another class decided to create a wall with a collection of their tips for becoming a good writer. The wall has several great tips from students, for students, and they have excitedly shared this with other classes in the spirit of collaboration and learning from one another.
When I first set up a wall, I leave it open to anyone and have my entire class add to it at the same time. After the session is over, I either close it entirely or moderate it so that any new additions to the wall have to be approved by me before they go live.
Simply put, with Wallwisher, educators have a powerful friend to help students seamlessly collaborate and keep their information organized and accessible in a fun, motivating place. Students continue to add to the walls long after they are created, and others can benefit from the information displayed in a single, user-friendly place.
Desert Fact Wall:
Wallwisher in the Classroom:
What Makes a Good Writer Wall:
—Keith Ferrell is the technology integration specialist at Singapore American School. He has been a classroom teacher since 1996 and has taught everything from 2nd to 12th grade. Read his blog, Ed Tech Ideas, at http://edtechideas.com.