I admit that I spent a few years discouraging students from using Wikipedia, however, I’ve changed my mind since coming to the high school. I still talk about the fact that it can be edited by anyone (unless there’s a lock visible on the article.) However, when you are given a topic that you know little about, I wouldn’t discourage you from using the World Book Encyclopedia–it’s a great way to get an overview of a subject, help you identify key events, people, places, etc. and I decided that if I would “let” kids use good old WB, I needed to talk about how to best use their favorite online tool Wikipedia. That being said, I wouldn’t encourage any of my students to list Wikipedia as a source in their works cited because they really need to be using something more meaningful and in-depth than any encyclopedia at this point in their education.
My favorite way to use it, is to follow the links that the entry creators used and cited in the course of writing what they had to say.
I also have promoted the use of the images uploaded and shared there in Wikimedia Commons, that is, until I was told last year when I asked it to be unblocked “If you search naked woman, you should see the pictures that come up.” (Please don’t check this at school!) I pointed out that this is an instructional issue, not a filter issue, but I lost round one.
Be sure to check out The Daring Librarian‘s Comic Tutorial to see more things that you can use Wikipedia to do. You may also want to check out these links from a recent Washington Post article.
Further reading on the subject:
Should I use or cite Wikipedia? Probably not.
4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it)
Teachers: Please stop prohibiting the use of Wikipedia
20 Little Known Ways to Use Wikipedia
Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica
Schiff, Stacy. “Know it all: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?” The New Yorker, February 26, 2006
Yes students, there’s a world beyond Wikipedia
Friday was an amazing day for me in the library. Over the course of the day, we had all of Mr. Weaver’s students working on Glogster making posters to introduce themselves to one another and Mrs. Hutchinson’s AP history students learning about the 13 original colonies (someone was looking for a book on Roanoke and I made a really bad joke about the book being lost . . . Mrs. Hutch did not find it nearly as amusing as I did!)
My primary focus though was on welcoming all of Miss McMahon, Mrs. Santiago, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Swisher and Mr. Decker’s ninth grade English classes to the library, explaining the organization of the room and the circulation policies and then helping all of them find and check out a book to read. At the end of the day, we’d loaned 439 books, made several holds on books that were checked out and determined that I had to get more copies of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help to meet student demand.
The kids were great and because there were three classes of students there to get books, everyone seemed to actually get one without fussing about not wanting to do it. There was a culture of reading that set it up so that was the expectation and there was no point in fighting it. By the time I got home, one of them had already followed through and liked the library on Facebook. By Sunday night, many more have AND I got my first reference question via Facebook. These teens are AWESOME!
Keenan painted this mural on the endcap of my graphic novel and manga shelving.
The first books checked out today were manga that are part of a collection that has been developed in my library in the last four years. In that time, graphic novels and manga have been so popular that they are checked out almost as many times in a year as our entire fiction collection.
Last year there were 4920 circulations in that section out of 19,460 in the collection as a whole. It’s been amazing and exciting. That being said, most of what circulates is manga; most of the superhero and more tradtional graphic novels don’t go out.
This year, my goal is to increase awareness and circulation of the rest of the collection. If you have ideas or suggestions, I would appreciate you sharing them with me!