What Can High School Students Contribute to Wikipedia?

Today I heard from a former student, Alexa Garvoille, now a teacher at a public magnet high school in Durham, North Carolina, Durham School of the Arts.  Despite some opposition at first, Alexa is now having the students in her classes contribute to the Young Adult literature essays on Wikipedia.  Some are honors students, some students with learning disabilities, some ESL students.  Alexa writes:  " Theorizing aside, the project was the most successful of my entire first year. It was like magic."

Alexa was an excellent MAT student in my graduate seminar (mostly for doctoral students in English) on "Early American Novels and Other Fictions" where students were required to add or edit the deplorable entries on early American literature, early meaning written at the time of the American Revolution and the American Constitution.  These entries tended to be impoverished, to say the least, and I challenged these graduate students to bring them up to scholarly standards.   Alexa not only did this in her own class but has now imparted the same standards and the same desire to use one's own learning to contribute to public knowledge to her students.  

She notes:  "All students participated, happy to finally be able to choose their own books. Students who didn't read Mockingbird or any short stories or Romeo and Juliet or, heaven forbid, The Odyssey, read for this unit. One ESL student told me he had been working on his article one night at 3 am . . . They all have Wikipedia accounts now, know about citing sources, and many of them are legitimately published and proud of their work. Some students simply improved an existing YA page (and, let me tell you, Young Adult novel pages are in worse shape than Early American Novel pages!), while others created a whole new page from scratch (without it even being deleted the next day)."

Here are a few pages created by Alexa Garvoille's students at Durham School of the Arts:

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (created by one very determined Honors student)

Eleventh Grade Burns by Heather Brewer (created by one very vampire-obsessed self-declared anarchist)

Brothers in Arms by Paul Langan and Ben Alirez (created by three students who hadn't been very motivated in reading and writing before) 

Children of the River by Linda Crew (created by a pair of best friends)

Check out these entries!  They are impressive by any standard.  

Alexa has also generously offered all HASTAC readers the links to her full proposal.  Anyone who would like to use Wikipedia in the classroom (K-20) can find material in this thoughtful, well-considered, proposal, with ample bibliography:

http://rebelliousreader.blogspot.com/2009/04/writing-wikipedia-pages-in.html  

And this page is a link to her unrevised unit plan: http://garvoille.wordpress.com/professional/wikipedia/

Who believed 9th Grade students could contribute so much, could be held to such high standards, and could learn lessons that they will remember for a lifetime?   Alexa did. And so did 120 9th graders at Durham School of the Arts.  They believed in themselves.  They believed they had something important and worthy to convey to others.   We need lots more teachers like Alexa--and more students like these at Durham School of the Arts!  

 

jbmurray

Wikimedia

Heya Cathy.  Was just at the Wikimedia offices here in San Francisco, and there's a team very interesting in supporting teachers who want to use Wikipedia in the classroom.  I passed on your name, and specifically also sent them a link to this post.  Good stuff!

jwatts

wikimedia

Could you give us more information about the wikimedia team, like how they can support teachers who want to use Wikipedia in the classroom. My father is a high school science teacher and he's supportive of new technologies, he even took a masters of public administration last year although he's 56. I see a lot of potential in getting students to contribute to wikipedia, and we should definitely encourage this.

Cathy Davidson

Hi, JB Murray at Wikimedia--

We would love to hear from you.  HASTAC has been a big champion of Wikipedia long before most in the academy were, specifically advocating its use in the classroom.  But this one is particularly great because I used it in a grad seminar at Duke, then my grad student used it for 120 9th graders at a local Durham public magnet school, Durham School of the Arts, and now about 1000 other teachers have read this blog.  The gift that keeps on giving.  Pass it on!

jbmurray

not "at Wikimedia"

Cathy, I'd better clarify that I don't myself work for Wikimedia. 

I was just visiting, as they'd written to me because they were so interested in the various projects that I've done on Wikipedia, not least "Murder, Madness, and Mayhem" which I wrote up here. I know you've seen that already, but thought I'd pass on the link in any case for other readers.

Anyhow, as I said, among other things I suggested that they also get in touch with you and HASTAC.

Cathy Davidson

Thanks!

I thought so, but it was confusing because I've been in touch with them separately!    Best, Cathy

nilspete

WSU thinking on Wikis for Learning

Cathy

Seeing this post reminded me that we'd written some things on this ca. 2005 in our wiki about to be retired. I have rescued them to here.

 

PS. I'm pondering what I want to do at the Peer-to-peer Pedagogy event you are hosting this Fall, which has me re-reading some of the Chronicle and Grading 2.0 which caused me to stumble on this post, and also your comment/question on the Georgia copyright case. I want to react to the latter, but as I do, it is folding and re-folding my thinking on P2P Pedagogy.

Cathy Davidson

Terrific, Nils.

Thanks so much.  I am often asked who should be interviewed on this topic.  Do you mind if I give your name?

Cathy Davidson

Reblogged in the Durham Herald-Sun

I love the way this one Wikipedia exercise keeps having expansive impact far beyond one course, a great example of how a small experiment can have a lot of impact.   Here's the reblog of my original blog in the DURHAM HERALD-SUN.   
Enhancing Wikipedia — and learning

Last week I heard from a former student, Alexa Garvoille, now a teacher at Durham School of the Arts. Despite some opposition at first, Garvoille is now having the students in her classes contribute to the Young Adult literature essays on Wikipedia. Some are honors students, some students with learning disabilities, some ESL students. Garvoille writes: “Theorizing aside, the project was the most successful of my entire first year. It was like magic.”

Garvoille was an excellent master of arts in teaching student in my graduate seminar (mostly for doctoral students in English) on “Early American Novels and Other Fictions.” Students were required to add or edit the deplorable entries on early American literature, early meaning written at the time of the American Revolution and the American Constitution. These entries tended to be impoverished, to say the least, and I challenged these graduate students to bring them up to scholarly standards.

Garvoille not only did this in her own class but has now imparted the same standards and the same desire to use one’s own learning to contribute to public knowledge to her students. 

She notes: “All students participated, happy to finally be able to choose their own books. Students who didn’t read ‘(To Kill a) Mockingbird’ or any short stories or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or, heaven forbid, ‘The Odyssey,’ read for this unit. One ESL student told me he had been working on his article one night at 3 a.m.

“They all have Wikipedia accounts now, know about citing sources, and many are legitimately published and proud of their work. Some students simply improved an existing YA page (and, let me tell you, young adult novel pages are in worse shape than early American novel pages!), while others created a whole new page from scratch (without it even being deleted the next day).”

Here are a few pages created by Garvoille’s DSA students:

n “The Monstrumologist” by Rick Yancey (created by one very determined honors student). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monstrumologist.

n “Eleventh Grade Burns” by Heather Brewer (created by one very vampire-obsessed self-declared anarchist). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleventh_Grade_Burns.

n ““Brothers in Arms” by Paul Langan and Ben Alirez (created by three students who hadn’t been very motivated in reading and writing before). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_in_Arms_(young_adult_novel).

n “Children of the River” by Linda Crew (created by a pair of best friends). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_the_River.

Check out these entries! They are impressive by any standard. 

Garvoille has also generously offered all HASTAC readers the links to her full proposal. Anyone who would like to use Wikipedia in the classroom (K-20) can find material in this thoughtful, well-considered, proposal, with ample bibliography:

http://rebelliousreader.blogspot.com/2009/04/writing-wikipedia-pages-in....

And this page is a link to her unrevised unit plan: http://garvoille.wordpress.com/professional/wikipedia/

Who believed ninth-grade students could contribute so much, could be held to such high standards, and could learn lessons that they will remember for a lifetime? Garvoille did. 

And so did 120 ninth-graders at Durham School of the Arts. They believed in themselves. They believed they had something important and worthy to convey to others. We need lots more teachers like Garvoille — and more students like these at Durham School of the Arts!

Duke University professor Cathy Davidson is a co-founder of HASTAC. This column originally appeared on her blog, http://www.hastac.org/blogs/ cathy- davidson.

Read more: The Herald-Sun - Enhancing Wikipedia — and learning