Feature wiki – Whitefriars College “Reading – Active and engaging

Whitefriars College Head of Library and Information Services (and School Library Association of Victoria President) Rhonda Powling has created an incredible wiki. Entitled “Reading – active and engaging”, Rhonda’s wiki focusses on strategies for engaging students with reading, particularly for boys (as Whitefriars is a boys’ school).


Rhonda has introduced her students to ‘Book trailers’ This  is where students make a movie style trailer advertising a book. Rhonda’s rationale for introducing the student to book trailers includes:

There are many students who seem disengaged at school. It has been said that young people are not reading and won’t write anymore than they absolutely must.
Outside school, however, it is a different story. Studies have shown young people are reading and writing incessantly, updating their MySpace/Facebook pages, keeping blogs and WebPages

In other words they are reading and writing but in different modes and media to the more traditional print literacies of the 20th century. Indeed the definition of literacy is evolving all the time. Literacy can no longer just encompass print-only works. In the 21st century literacy must include digital, hypertext, images and the plethora of communication media that make up the complex systems that bound in today’s world.

The complexity of messages in today’s world means that our students have to not only know how to “read” them but also know enough about them to be critical viewers, with the power to analyse and understand the obvious and more obscure meanings of the messages around them.

Students are bringing multi-literacy skills to the classroom and teachers tap into their interests and skills and then enhance their students’ understanding of these various diverse texts. This will enable them to become skilled at critically viewing any of the diverse texts that is presented to them so that they can confidently use all the media around them to learn, clarify and communicate information rather than by passive users who can be coerced, confused and persuaded by the unscrupulous.

Some statistics: (in 2008)
· 73% or ¾ students on the internet watch or download videos
· ½ of the young internet users say they watch YouTube
· Many young people post videos to blogs and even more forward on a link in an email
· They are socializing, researching, playing games, getting news via technologies.
In schools we need to look at innovative ways to capture the interest and commitment of students to the understanding the deep-thinking and as the learning world because more and more immersive these initiatives are an important step.

 Rhonda has supplied some examples of book trailers developed by her students.


 The General

Nemesis Book 1: Into the shadows


Rhonda has included the process of storyboarding and planning before students begin filming:



Also included is an assessment rubric:

Assessment rubric

Assessment rubric

You have to agree that Rhonda has created a sensational unit or work and seeing the students’ brilliant efforts only reinforces what a wonderful job Rhonda has done to bring the love of reading to students in this age of multimedia.

Tania Sheko’s English wiki

Whitefriars College teacher librarian Tania Sheko has been busy! She has also created a wiki for the English class she has been working with.

Tania explains how the wiki came about:

The English wiki was created to support a particular English class but with a view to sharing resources with all English teachers. It’s in its very early stages, and will continue to evolve with time, according to the needs of the English class.

There is a variety of information and resources, including resources and ideas to support teachers (lesson ideas, rubrics, warm-ups), support for students (brainstorming ideas and research), ideas for using technology (cool tools, using multimedia, videos, Voicethread – podcasts are still coming), ideas for units of work (digital storytelling, using picture books), resources for ESL and VCE, and links to English blogs and wikis. Some pages have only one example, and others (lesson ideas, picture books, videos and Voicethread) have a longer list of resources.

Recently I’ve created a NING, which is a virtual learning community, and this will house the wiki, as well as providing a space for individual student blogs and countless discussions and groups.  At this stage the NING is a closed community.

The wiki and the NING are both in their early stages. I’m learning how to construct it as I go, and I’m using people in my own PLN (personal learning network) to help me. It’s great to be able to ask questions at any time, and receive replies from people all over the place. The best part of being a teacher is being a learner.

Tania is more than happy to have people join the wiki and make contributions.

Thanks Tania for sharing your hard work and ideas with us. Congratulations on the development of all your ICT tools.

Feature wiki – Tania Sheko’s art wiki

Whitefriars College teacher librarian Tania Sheko has agreed to share the development of her art wiki  with readers.

Art matters

Art matters

Tania explains,

The wiki is an excellent place to collect information and links to sites in order to support teaching and learning. It can be used as a closed space for one class, or it can be a shared, collaborative space.

The art wiki began as a support for a year 11 Studio Arts class, and was initially a collection of resources and links. I was invited to the class to introduce the wiki, and also to get to know the students so that I could find resources for their individual projects. I started out going around to the students one by one to get an idea of what they wanted to do and what they needed in terms of online information, resources and images. As well as these tailored resources, the wiki houses general resources, such as links to galleries and museums around the world, as well as online magazines, excellent for visual examples when students need inspiration and ideas. For the theoretical component, there are links to websites about art history, art styles, and artists.  There’s a growing list of art blogs, which specialise in a variety of art, and are a wonderful way to read about aspects of art in a personal way, as opposed to textbook reading. Of course, the blogs often open up discussion which is interesting in itself, and invite participation.

 There are links to controversial issues to support essay writing, points of view, practical tips and how-tos, and help with research and essay writing skills.

 Wikis allow you to easily embed media, and so there are links to podcasts, multimedia, Voicethread and videos. Multimedia resources are popular with students, and provide a dimension that text cannot.

 However, the wiki is more than a repository for resources. As stated on the home page, it is ‘a shared space for you to place and locate information and ideas, a place to discuss and question.

If you click on ‘edit this page’ above, you can add content to the page. If you have any information or links to add, you’re welcome to contribute. Just remember to save the page when you’ve finished. You can also comment or raise questions using the ‘discussion’ link at the top of the page.’

 A well prepared and considered introduction of the collaborative nature and possibilities of the wiki is important, and it helps if the teacher supports this. I was fortunate to work with a teacher who is passionate about Web 2.0 technologies, and she stressed to the students that they should visit the wiki regularly to check for resources which are constantly being updated. She also created a page for the class to display the work they created in the Studio Arts class. My aim for the wiki is that teachers and students take ownership of it, contributing to it, and reshaping it according to their needs. My relationship with the teacher and the students is vital for the adoption of and interaction with the wiki, otherwise I have spent countless hours creating a resource that is forgotten about.

And, of course, the wiki is a dynamic resource, growing constantly, and evolving through collaborative efforts.

Tania has obviously put a lot of thought, time and effort into creating useful and innovative resources for her students. Well done Tania and we are keen to see what you develop next!

Information Literacy @ Preston Girls’ Secondary College

Recently, Preston Girls’ Secondary College teacher librarians Judith Way and Reina Phung developed an information literacy wiki.

Information skills wiki front page

Information skills wiki front page

For a while they had been thinking about developing a place where all search strategies, information on how to compile a bibliography and other research resources could be placed. They came up with the idea of using a wiki. Judith says, ‘The advantage with a wiki is that it is easy to both provide links to outside websites as well as upload documents onto the wiki. So materials that we had previously developed or modified for research, such as data charts and internet search strategies could be accessed as immediately as links to URLs.’

They also created a page of links to books and reading.

Judith and Reina say that they are pleased with the results so far and intend to use the wiki as part of year 7 orientation sessions and VCE research skills lessons.

Some of the resources on the wiki are for finding information and others are for students to consider using when producing school work. Judith and Reina explain that the wiki is a work in progress and will be added to when they discover or develop new resources.

Feature wiki – Casey Grammar School

Casey Grammar School Head of Secondary School Teaching and Learning and teacher librarian Julie Squires has developed a very useful wiki for her year 11 English class.

Wiki homepage
Wiki homepage
Julie explains, ‘Although I created the wiki specifically for my class, I made it public so that any English teacher and/or student can use it. I am introducing my students to the wiki slowly; they need to complete their VCE profiles via the wiki and I want them to get used to doing homework online. I want the students to take responsibility for their own learning. I am encouraging them to use tools such as Essay map and bubbl.us to plan their essays online. Students can contribute to the ‘Reading/responding resource bank’ so that others can see what their classmates are doing. I really hope it becomes a collaborative effort between them as often students don’t realise what their classmates are writing and thinking. It’s not cool to share too much in class, so hopefully this way they can experience the power of learning collaboratively.’
Useful online resources

Useful online resources

Julie continues, ‘And by giving them links to useful resources, like Glogster and Ergo, I am helping them find resources they would not necessarily come across themselves.’

Congratulations to Julie for her great ideas, creativity and for sharing her wonderful wiki with us. Julie really is a leader in her field! If you have a moment, check out her ning, a place for Victorian teacher librarians to meet and share.

Feature wiki – Buckley Park College

Buckley Park College Librarian and Web 2.0 whizkid Leslie Sharples helped with the introduction of wikis to College staff in the first week of the school year. Pauline Kossis, the Assessment and Reporting Coordinator and Senior Accounting Teacher immediately grabbed the idea of using a wiki with her class and ran with it.

Accounting homepage
Accounting homepage

Pauline explains how her wiki came about. ‘I became excited with the thought that wikis could combine all of the features I was looking for as a teacher and for my students to access information and share their knowledge.’

Course content
Course content

She continues,’ Previously I was setting dates and times to be online so I could assist students with their exercises, but this was solely one on one and other students were not privy to the information. While my wiki is a starting point for students to access resources, links and classroom activities 24-7, they can collaboratively explore the various topics covered in Accounting 3.  I have just finished inviting my class in and eventually, there will be an inclusion of more resources, eg. vokis to highlight key concepts covered, current articles, PowerPoint presentations, as well as questionnaires to rate their learning experiences(ie.what went well and what topics could be explained further).’


Pauline says, ‘Students will provide some of the work that will be displayed on the site also e.g. Chapter summaries (these will be used for revision). The same process will be duplicated with all my other classes.’

Leslie Sharples says that Pauline’s wiki is making a real difference to her students. Well done to Leslie for introducing wikis to the staff and to Pauline for her excellent ideas and commitment to developing exciting educational learning for her students.

Feature wiki – Pascoe Vale Primary School

Margo Edgar of Pascoe Vale Primary School has worked on creating e-books with year five and year six this term. The project was to create photo stories of the solar system, which are now accessible through Margo’s wiki.

Margo Edgar's wiki featuring e-books

Margo Edgar's wiki

Margo explains the process the students went through. ‘The students were given the following instructions:

  • Your task is to collaborate with your group to create a presentation that communicates your understanding and explains a process that happens in our Solar System, or the answer to a question about our Solar System.
  • They could be created using Photostory (free download from Microsoft), Voicethread or other options as negotiated. (All but one group chose to use Photostory).

‘Presentations had to include:

  • Drawings and/or diagrams
  • Drawings needed to sequentially show the process that was being explained

‘Written text that follows an explanation text structure (this had been taught previously). They were expected to include an introduction, body sections that followed a logical sequence and explained step by step and a conclusion.’

Margo continues, ‘The students were expected to research their chosen topic (process/question) and then used Inspiration to flow chart the plan for their text (this was following on from previous work we had completed on planning and writing texts).

‘Once they completed their drawings the students scanned or photographed them, then imported them into the groups chosen program and added their text to create the final product. Each group was given the task of evaluating another group’s completed product and reporting back to the class on their evaluation.’ All presentations were then uploaded to TeacherTube for sharing with the wider world.

‘Whilst I have not specifically completed the SLAV Web 2.0 course – I have trained myself in the use of a lot of Web 2.0 tools over the last few years and explored ways to use them in the classroom.’

Thank you to Margo for not only sharing her success with using Photostory and TeacherTube, but for sharing her wiki as well. From the finished products, it is evident that students found the task engaging. Well done Margo.

Feature wiki – Whitefriars College, Donvale

Whitefriars College teacher librarian Karen Kearney has developed a wicked wiki for VCE classes! Karen outlines the development of the resource; ‘The Theatre Studies boys at our school have been studying Wicked – The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz as part of their curriculum.  It’s one of the plays on our VCE list.’

Wicked front page

Wicked front page

Karen explains how the wiki came about. ‘Earlier this year I attended the SLAV Conference featuring Will Richardson. Closely following this, all of Whitefriars College Library Staff, along with another staff member, completed the SLAV Web 2.0 “23 Things” course. These PD activities gave me many ideas of different and exciting ways in which information could be presented. Having already started blogging, I decided to try my hand at a Wiki.

‘Wikis have been used in the past at Whitefriars College. We have been a laptop computer school for many years now, and have a great intranet. Wikis for classroom use have been developed as part of the intranet, but I wanted something on the internet which many people could share.’

Karen continues, ‘Setting up a wiki really couldn’t have been simpler. Wikispaces  was suggested as a good location for an educational Wiki. Following my first effort I found myself with a nice Wiki, complete with advertisements all down the side! After discussion with a colleague, I discovered that Wikispaces offer a place where teachers can create a Wiki without fees, and without advertising, for educational purposes.’

Karen says, ‘I have long had an interest in musical theatre, and was delighted to hear from our Theatre Studies boys that they were going to study Wicked – The Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz, as part of their VCE curriculum. I have seen the show on Broadway, and our Australian production, so knew it well. Furthermore, technical aspects of theatre fascinate me so I set out to find many articles on the Internet which take a back stage look at the show. I came up with many relevant articles, interviews, reviews, podcasts and YouTube videos, all of which discuss different aspects of the show.  This information supports, and extends, that already provided by the Theatre Studies teacher. 

Costumes, lighting, set design

Costumes, lighting, set design

‘The Teacher Librarian in me wanted to bring a reading perspective to the Wiki, and so I added a page about Gregory Maguire, the author of the book Wicked.  Several of his books are listed there, as is his web site.  Perhaps this might encourage some of our students to explore his other work.


Gregory Maguire's books

Gregory Maguire's books

Finally, when the Wiki was near completion, Karen sent the link to the Theatre Studies class, their teacher, and other students and teachers she thought would be interested.  She then sent an email to the OZTL_Net Teacher Librarians list, asking that anyone who wished to share the link should do so with their students and teachers.  Karen does warn potential users that ‘YouTube video links have been included and I’m aware that not all schools will be able to view those.’

Thanks to Karen for sharing her valuable resource with us! Well done Karen.