TomWikiSawyerPedia

Posted on January 12, 2009Filed Under Moodle, Tom Sawyer, Wiki | 2 Comments

A lot of the kids have been having trouble getting through the early chapters of Tom Sawyer. Mostly it’s the vocabulary, though for some it’s the fact that they don’t bother to read it. Once we go over the reading in class, or I explain as we read aloud, they get it, and they like it. Today in class, we’re reading chapter 6 which begins with Tom trying to get out of school by pretending to be sick.

“How many of you have ever faked sick to try to get out of school?” Almost every hand goes up.

“Nothing changes in 170 years, does it?”

They like Mark Twain’s sarcastic sense of humor, and how the goody-goody Sid is obviously a fool in Mark Twain’s eyes too. And they love the pranks.

But it’s still tough, especially for the first six or eight chapters. Every year I struggle with how to get them to read it, and get them to get it. This year I’m trying an experiment.

Our county office of schools hosts a Moodle server, and I use it a lot in my class. I have a whole Langston Hughes project we do online that includes quizzes and lessons in Moodle. We’ve made web page/wikis out of essays. I posted about Moodle awhile back, and I even have a demo Moodle running. (Go ahead, check it out sometime – log in as guest.) The other day it dawned on me how I might use those features to help them get through Tom Sawyer.

I created Moodle several activities: a summary wiki, a discussion forum, and two glossaries, slang and unfamiliar vocabulary. I’ll get into all of them, and the logistics of accountability with this thing, but I want to begin with the summary wiki. (You can check it all out here, you can look, but you can’t do anything, this is on the County server.)

I created a link for each of the thirty five chapters, some brief instructions, and demoed it today. The idea, like with Wikipedia, is that collectively they all know what’s going on. Eventually.

“Like with Wikipedia, let’s say Jeremy notices that Wikipedia doesn’t have any entries about his favorite form of basket-weaving. He could log on, and write an article that gives the basics. Then Mary comes along and notices something Jeremy left out, and adds it. Then George comes along and likes the info he sees, but can’t cope with their bad spelling, so he logs on and tidies up after them. Then the rest of us can learn just what Jeremy and Mary do with their free time.

“You guys will do the same with our Tom Sawyer wiki.”

Tonight was the first experiment. I plan on running this until we finish Tom Sawyer, so it’s hard to say how things will look down the line – I might be creating a bookkeeping nightmare – but so far, I like what I see. The Moodle wiki set-up lets me compare the differences after each edit, so I can watch the entries evolve, as well as see who contributed what. It’s kind of fun, and I’ll be able to show this to everyone tomorrow so I can demo dos and don’ts. Watch this one:

The entry for chapter 6 began like this (not a lot of promise):

+In this chapter we are introduced to Huck Fin, who thinks he knows how to cure warts.

Version 2 (hrrmmm):

In this chapter we are introduced to Huck Fin, who thinks he knows how to cure warts.
+Chapter 6: Tom Meets Becky

Version 3 (Nice job, “Amy.”)

Chapter 6: Tom Meets Becky

In Chapter 6 we are introduced to Huckleberry(Huck) Fin, who thinks he knows how to cure warts.
+In Chapter 6 we are introduced to Huckleberry(Huck) Fin, who thinks he knows how to cure warts. Also, during the beginning of the chapter Tom freaks Sid out because Sid thinks that Tom is really ill but he is faking it to get out of going to school. He tries to do this by inspecting his body and smashed toe. A couple of minutes later Tom starts pretending like he’s going to die by, saying he forgives everyone and that he’s sorry. Aunt Polly knew that Tom wasn’t that ill. So she pulled his tooth out and sent him off to school. Huck is the town’s drunk’s kid. He is also the pariah of the town. Huck also thinks he can cure warts with a stiff dead cat. Huck traded his first tick of the season with Tom to get Tom’s tooth. Tom meets Becky and is going to teach her how to draw. After a short conversation Tom told Becky,”I Love You.”

Here’s the most recent iteration (#18 – wow):

In Chapter 6 we are introduced to Huckleberry(Huck) Finn, who thinks he knows how to cure warts. Also, during the beginning of the chapter Tom freaks Sid out because Sid thinks that Tom is really ill, but he is faking it so he can get out of going to school. He attempts to do this by inspecting his body and his smashed toe. A couple of minutes later Tom starts pretending like he’s going to die by, saying he forgives everyone and that he’s sorry. Aunt Polly knew that Tom wasn’t that ill. So, she pulled his tooth out using a piece of thread and a burning log and sent him off to school. Huck is the town drunk’s kid. He is also the pariah of the town. Huck traded a blue ticket for a dead cat. He told Tom different ways to cure warts. Huck also thinks he can cure warts with a stiff dead cat. Huck traded his first tick of the season with Tom to get Tom’s tooth. Tom arrives at school late, only to find his teacher asleep at his desk. He then flung himself into his desk, which awoke the teacher. The teacher asked Tom why he was late. Tom confesses to him that he was talking to Huckleberry Finn. Then the teacher beat Tom with a stick and made Tom sit with the girls, which to Tom it wasn’t much of a punishment. Tom meets Becky and tries to give her a peach but she shoves it away and makes here keep it. Then he tries to show off his drawing skills and is going to teach her how to draw at noon. He drew her a house, a man, and a picture of herself.big grin After a short conversation Tom wrote to Becky on the slate,”I Love You.”kissbig grin
+ Becky then hit Tom’s hand, even though she blushed and looked pleased, nevertheless. The teacher grabbed Tom because he thought he did something bad to Becky and sent him to a different seat. Then the teacher sent them to recess.

That’s most everything, plot-wise, that we would have to go over in class. I think I might be on to something. More tomorrow.

Comments

2 Responses to “TomWikiSawyerPedia”

  1. Sonja on April 23rd, 2009 1:39 pm

    Mr. Coward,
    My 10 year old son and I are reading Tom Sawyer together and he is really enjoying it. I have spent time online looking for resources to go along with the reading and your site is amazing. I know it is an experiment of sorts (makes me wish I was still teaching) but for a parent of a gifted child who is not being serviced, it is nice to see some ideas of what we as parents can do to keep our kids engaged using technology.
    Thanks again,
    Sonja

  2. mrC on April 25th, 2009 7:43 pm

    I’m so glad you found something you can use. My boy, (10 in a couple of weeks) loved TS also, though I told him he’ll have to read it again in a couple of years when he gets to my class. Thanks for the kudos.

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