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Lesson Plan

Collaborating, Writing, Linking: Using Wikis to Tell Stories Online

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jane Ann Chin

Inverary, Ontario

Rebecca Jean Luce-Kapler

Inverary, Ontario


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne (DK Publishing, 2001)

  • Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei by Peter Sís (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1996)

  • The Three Pigs by David Wiesner (Clarion Books, 2001)

  • Black and White by David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

  • Computers with Internet access

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1. If you are not already familiar with wikis and their use, spend some time learning about them before starting this lesson. A wiki is an online application that allows users to add content to a website and also allows other users to edit the content without requiring a high degree of technical knowledge. The term wiki also refers to the collaborative software used to create such a website. The name comes from "wiki wiki," which means "rapidly" in the Hawaiian language. For more information about wikis see Wikipedia: Wiki and Wiki Wiki Web. Note: One good way to familiarize yourself with how users participate in producing wikis, including how they use links, is simply to spend some time browsing different entries on the Wikipedia website.

2. Consult with your school's IT or media specialist to determine what type of wiki you should use with your students. There are multiple options including downloading free software from MediaWiki or using a website that provides server space and the software without requiring you to download anything. Some charge a small fee for this service and some, like Create Your Own Free Wetpaint Wiki, offer them for free. The only problem with free sites is that you may find too much advertising. Once you have determined what type of wiki you will use, create one for your class that has limited access so that only your students can see and make changes to it.

3. Reserve your school's computer lab for Sessions 2, 3, and 4, and bookmark the wiki homepage you created on the computers students will be using.

4. Since wiki writing requires students to think differently about story writing, it is useful to introduce them first to nonlinear (or multilinear) storylines and to ways that images can tell a story without words. Radical change books are a genre of children's books that attempt to both expose and challenge conventions and norms in children's literature by interrupting traditional narrative conventions through fragmented or unresolved storylines and multiple perspectives. They also use illustrations as an important medium for conveying content and meaning to the extent that different readers may interpret the text quite differently depending on what caught their attention and how they put pieces of the book together. This genre puts the reader into a more active role of determining what is relevant to them and making sense of what they are reading.

This lesson uses four radical change books:

  • Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

  • Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei by Peter Sís

  • The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

  • Black and White by David Macaulay


Obtain and familiarize yourself with these books. You will be dividing your class into four groups; each group will look at a different book and you will need one copy for each student in the group. To find different books, refer to Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age by Eliza Dresang (The H.W. Wilson Company, 1999).

5. Divide your class into four heterogeneous groups that integrate English-language learners and struggling readers. In addition, assign each student in your class a partner, making sure that at least one student in each pair is proficient on the computer.

Bear in mind that the word collaboration needs to be redefined within your classroom for the duration of the wiki writing project. Dividing the class into groups and discussing the books is a nice way to begin to develop the rapport you want your students to have with each other, since everyone contributes to the understanding of the texts. When students actually begin to create their stories and begin to link to each others' stories, there has to be a new understanding of ownership that allows all of them to revise, edit, and create each other's stories. Ideally, in the end, there will be one large class story that is the result of many individual efforts.

6. You will want to provide students with a list of safe sites that they can use when creating links on their wiki pages. There are several approaches you can take to create this list. You can choose from among the sites listed at Enhance Learning With Technology. Alternatively, between Sessions 2 and 3, you can read students' stories and conduct your own searches for appropriate websites and images based on the types of characters and stories students are writing. Add a page to the wiki you have created and list the websites there, where students can access them easily.

7. Make one copy of the Brainstorming for Wiki Writing and Wiki Writing Tips handouts for each student in your class.

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