Sunday, September 25, 2011


WikiGame: This could become very addictive!!! This is a game where you race around Wikipedia trying to navigate from one article to another through the fewest clicks.  It's like "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."  I just won with Eight clicks from Hilary Clinton to Frogs. 

My own, much more basic "Wikipedia the Game" is an attempt to help kids become more mindful and reflective about using Wikipedia. It is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It's also one of the activities in my "Info Bootcamp" unit. It simulates the element of chance in creating an article that can be edited and "improved" by anyone out there.  It's only available for SmartBoard Notebook right now.  It's best run as a full class activity.  Play begins with a roll of a die.  For each side of the die, a student has to do one of six things: either add their own fact, reveal a fact from a pile of useful information, reveal a fact from a pile of opinion facts, REMOVE something, or allow the hacker to add something by rolling the "hacker die."  Game play can go on indefinitely but I usually limit the game to less than ten minutes.  That is more than enough time to get my point across that there is some chance in how good a Wikipedia article is. 

I've created three "game board" slides that on three subjects that my students are very familiar with: SpongeBob, pizza, and the Sasquatch. 

What I've learned from playing this with several classes now is that my fifth grade students are more engaged with my ACTUAL lesson, which is to point out some ways that they can begin to distinguish whether a Wikipedia article has merit.   Some of these points include looking at the amount of references and notes at the end of the article, noticing whether the page has had a rating, and looking for other signs that the article needs to be "cleaned up."

There's also a Wikipedia article "Flow Chart" so that kids can see that there are many hands involved in the process.

I also make the point that sometimes teachers will insist that students not use Wikipedia and that my goal as a librarian is to make them aware of other sources that have greater credibility with their teachers.

Some of the things that I've discovered about fifth graders while playing the game is that they get the difference between opinion and fact.  They noticed that sometimes the best facts can get removed from a Wikipedia article, making it less strong.

Since I chose to use the Sasquatch legend as one of my game boards, I have the opportunity to talk about articles that have to be protected because they are controversial.   The Sasquatch article was once a big battle ground between the cryptid believers and the non-believers.  The Big Foot followers kept writing the article as if he truly existed and they had incontrovertible proof. Wikipedia finally had to come down on the side of those who are still skeptical and have blocked editing on this article. 

Finally, I've come across Wikipedia's actual FAQ for Schools!  This is what Wikipedia has to say about credibility:

It is possible for a given Wikipedia article to be biased, outdated, or factually incorrect. This is true of any resource. One should always double-check the accuracy of important facts, regardless of the source. In general, popular Wikipedia articles are more accurate than ones that receive little traffic, because they are read more often and therefore any errors are corrected in a more timely fashion. Wikipedia articles may also suffer from issues such as Western bias, but hopefully this will also improve with time
I'm in agreement with them. My school librarian's point that I try to make is that taking any resource at face value leads to sloppy scholarship at best.  

1 comment:

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