I showed them all how to use Wikipedia to find interesting subjects to write about. I want them to learn how to read and summarize articles, and this seemed like a good idea for those who were into it. We were doing OK until today, when several people decided to copy and paste long passages straight from the web. Seeing this, the computers were put away for a bit.
This is how I see teaching as an iterative process. We made an attempt at something, summarizing informational articles. It failed a couple of key tests. Now we have to talk, again, about plagiarism, summarizing, note-taking, research, and writing in their own voice, issues I’ve been bringing to them all year.
For now, to begin with, we need to understand basic essay writing, using the web as source material. It’s hard, though, because the reading level is difficult to control, and it isn’t always easy to find articles at a suitable level of difficulty.
I imagine that a lot of useful educational content on the internet will eventually be written by kids using social software applications, like we are doing. But they have to be shown how to do that.