Wallwisher for collective intelligence

I’m trying this year to make a concerted effort to shift more of my teaching into collaborative sites to make the most of collective intelligence. I’m really pleased that the Year 9 English team I work with has once again enthusiastically embraced the use of Ning across the year level to support our learning. What’s even better is that the Yr 10 teachers have decided to use a Ning platform across their English classrooms as well. I’m especially pleased about this because the students who enjoyed writing in the Ning last year have some continuity and input into their learning.

I’ve known about Wallwisher for awhile but didn’t see a use for it with the work I was doing with my students. I don’t like to use applications like this gratuitously; it has to be meaningful to what we are doing in class. This week we were doing character analysis and it came to me that Wallwisher might be useful to track our thinking. Our task has been to find quotes from the novel we are reading (Bye, Beautiful by Julia Lawrinson) that help us with our understanding of the characters. We’ve created walls for Sandy, Frank, Billy and Marianne and the links to these have been pasted into a text box on the Ning so that everyone has easy access to them. Here’s an example of the wall with quotes applicable to Sandy;

What we are doing is leveraging our collective intelligence for the good of the group. Eventually, we’ll be writing an essay related to this text and the students will be able to access these walls to see if there may be quotes there that are useful to use as supporting evidence for the points they are making.

I can see Wordle would be useful to create a word bank of descriptive terms related to the novel and specific characters. If you’ve got ideas for other sites I could be using I’d appreciate leveraging the collective intelligence of my readers!

Working together 2 make a difference finds its way into print


What a nice surprise greeeted me via Skype this morning. Angela Stockman sent me the link to the above newspaper article about her daughter Laura and Working together 2 make a difference.

It was written by Sarah Hanson, a freshman at Alden High who is a member of the site. Sarah has captured the motivation of the site very well in her article and I want to thank her for identifying it as something worthy of sharing with a wider audience. My students are going to be thrilled to see some of their comments highlighted in the article.

Mike Fisher created a Wordle of the article and noted that it captured the intentions of the site really well in its representation. I couldn’t agree more.


If there is something that I hope is lasting from my foray into this online world, then I hope it is Working together 2 make a difference. I like the space; it is welcoming, supportive and has good intentions. If you haven’t been there, please visit and consider joining. You’ll find there passionate educators who have a desire to impart the value of service learning to their students.

Thank you Sarah for giving Working together 2 make a difference a profile that’s a little higher than what it had yesterday. It is very much appreciated.

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Wordle – Rhonda and Dennis are on the bus!

I’ve been catching up on some reading tonight. My Google Reader has been sadly neglected of late – too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. I haven’t read The Shifted Librarian for awhile and was thrilled to see Rhonda Powling’s post about Wordle featured in it’s entirity on Jenny’s blog. Good for you Rhonda. Great to see an Aussie Teacher-Librarian blogger getting attention. Wordle is a neat application that allows you to paste text in and it will create a tag cloud formation with the most used words appearing larger than others. No thinking required, but great effect. It has a lot of potential for display purposes and to generate class discusssion about word choice. It would be a fun activity to insert the text of a well known peom and see if your students were able to piece together which poem it is and how it should appear in regular text format. 

Dennis Harter discovered Wordle this week. He put out a tweet (on Twitter for those of you wondering what on earth I’m referring too!) asking if he was late in catching up with this app. I very kindly replied that yes, he was! He wrote about this exchange in his first post for U Tech tips and recounted it with good humour. The focus of his post was, you guessed it, Wordle, and he included one he had created using Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It looked brilliant – the kind of thing you’d want to laminate and use in your library or classroom.

I’m sure you’re wondering why it is that I haven’t got an example here of the kind of thing you can do using Wordle. Well, that is because, for some unknown reason, I can’t get Wordle to work. I paste in the text of Robert Kennedy’s speech after the assassination of Dr. King, and it keeps telling me there is ‘no plugin available to view this content’. I have the latest version of Java installed, and can’t understand why what looks to be the easiest application available on the Web will not work for me!

If you’re reading this and have an answer to my dilemma, please leave a comment and put me out of my Wordleless misery! Yes Dennis, I may have known about Wordle before you jumped on the bus, but I’m still waiting at the stop!