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Looking at Resources as Helpful, Not Taboo

Hi All,

My sincere apologies to whomever is presenting this week!  I signed on this morning to start engaging in the conversation, and when I looked at the syllabus I realized I was supposed to post on this week’s readings, too!  So sorry I am late with this, but here are my thoughts on Purdy’s Wikipedia is Good For You!?

As you all know by now, I work in a somewhat unique school district.  All of my classrooms follow an inclusion model, where students who need 1:1 aides are working cooperatively with those who are battling to be the class valedictorian.  On any given day, there are 1-2 additional adults in my room co-teaching with me.  In addition, my 9th and 10th graders are preparing to enter a rigorous International Baccalaureate Program once they enter their junior year, so the curriculum in the lower grades is also challenging.  Differentiated instruction has become second-nature, and now I am becoming fluent in the language, theory and practice of the Common Core.  Anything that can make learning a little easier for my students, especially those who struggle, is a plus in my book.  But, Wikipedia?  Really?  Isn’t that the source that we all tell our students to avoid?  The one that is unreliable because anybody can decide to change the information that is presented?  The one that makes educators (myself included) grimace when we see it listed on bibliographies?

Purdy would say, “Yes” to all of this.  In fact, he acknowledges all of the apprehensions I listed above in one felt swoop when he states, “As a result of such changeability, Wikipedia articles are unreliable; the article you cite today may not exist in that form tomorrow.  This variability challenges prevailing understanding of how published texts work so cause some anxiety.  Because print texts are (relatively) stable, we expect texts we read (and cite) to be the same when we go back to them later.  Even Wikipedia contributors express worry about the implications of article changeability for citation…” (208).  So, how can Purdy acknowledge all the flaws we see in a resource like Wikipedia