Thing 8…stretch task (Wikipedia)

I felt up to the challenge of the stretch task, mostly because I do use Wikipedia when I need some quick background information on something. I realize that it has some shortcomings as a completely reliable source, but my personal experience with the site has been positive. My article of interest was just general information about the country of Colombia. My husband is Colombian, and both of my children have citizenship as Colombians too. I am a Spanish teacher, and in our home we are raising our kids with a lot of their Colombian heritage. We only speak Spanish, we listen to music and watch t.v. from Colombia (and other parts of Latin America), and we also eat a lot of traditional foods. My kids talk to their cousins in the capital city, Bogotá, every weekend via Skype. I have also traveled there four times already, and have seen many majors parts of the country. I am by no means an “expert,” but I feel that I could judge the Wikipedia page if I saw something I didn’t like. Many people in the United States have misconceptions about Colombia due the drug trafficking and violence that was pretty serious back in the ’80s and ’90s. There are still problems today (mostly in the rural jungle areas) caused by the FARC rebels. But I have never had a negative experience and know that it’s a safe, fun place to travel if you are smart about where you go. I am a runner and have gone running alone in 3 major cities, with no issues. I have even been to one of the poorest neighborhoods in Bogotá to visit a child that I was sponsoring with no problems there either. So I was sure that Wikipedia would be very biased and make Colombia out to be a very dangerous place. I was pleasantly surprised that there was general information about the internal conflicts, but it included references to how the country is becoming an economic power in South America. The discussion page had more to do with grammatical errors than anything else. The biggest controversy seemed to be over the official name of the national anthem! I didn’t fact check every date or fact, but by reading through, it did seem to be a fairly reliable source of information. When encouraging my students to do research, I would not encourage it as the only source of information, but it’s a good start to get background information on a topic.

This is my husband and son, walking down the streets of the walled city, Cartagena, Colombia.

Thing 8…the world of wikis!

There is definitely room for a wiki in my classroom! It’s actually something I have wanted to do for a while, but haven’t. I guess I just get to summer and think I will have all this time to work on creative, cool ideas. But then family time, running, visiting friends, and working all gobble up those few months and next thing you know, it’s preplanning again. Maybe this will be my year! Looking at different classroom examples was very helpful, as it guided me towards ways that I could use this in my own classroom.

Even though I teach middle schoolers, the Kindergarten Counting Book looked just my speed. For my beginning level Spanish class I may not use numbers, but I can see a project where students could be putting examples of other things. The clothing/colors unit and school supplies units would work well. Telling time would be easily transferrable to a wiki page as well. The setup for this wiki was very basic, but the kids had a forum to share and learn and count! The Greetings From Around the World got my gears going too. We have a Global Education program at Pace, and next year in the middle school we have four trips planned. I’m not sure how it would work exactly, but I think that it would be great for the trips to have some type of common connection. The glogs they created would be a great way to showcase the trip highlights and the different things they learn about the cultures that they visit. We already have a site for our Global Ed travel blogs, but something more interactive would be really fun!