Task: Students started their School Finance PBL by creating a list of “Knows and Need to Knows” using the WeKWL app. Students logged on to a session created by the teacher, and edited a live document by entering concepts and skills they already knew (K), wanted to know (W), and big ideas they will learn (L). The School Finance PBL will require students to create a plan for a new educational facility for GCISD.
Reflection: I was very excited to try this app. We used it to kick off our Cadre 5 training in February, and it was a perfect way to present what the group needed to learn. WeKWL worked perfectly for my first class. Students selected one of the letters and typed in their statements. Their work instantly appeared on everyone’s screen as a live document typically works. By the end of the session, we had a large list of ideas that reflected high-level thinking. After spending some time analyzing our list, the direction for our PBL was clear. In addition, we were able to save the list as a PDF, and email it right from the app. Although a live document can be created with a number of platforms such as Google Docs, WeKWL designed a format taylor-made for PBL introductions. It was easy to use, and the students enjoyed contributing to a product generated by the entire class.
Things changed dramatically after first period. For the rest of the day, WeKWL crashed. After students logged in, they could not edit the live document. The app constantly logged them out, or simply quit. We tried to troubleshoot by closing the app and rebooting the iPad. Nothing we tried worked, and we had to abandon our original plans. Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience because it worked so well during first period. My original thought was that my first period was smaller than my other classes, and the larger group caused the crash. However, the app worked perfectly during my Cadre 5 training, and we had about 70 people in the room. Although we were able to complete the same task on our white boards, I feel the other classes missed out on a unique learning opportunity.
Conclusion: This was a tale of two experiences. WeKWL worked perfectly for my first class, but could not be used the rest of the day. When it works, this is a great app for starting your PBL. You can create your KWL list quickly, as everyone is editing the same document. It is easy to save so you can revisit or revise your list throughout the PBL process. The students enjoyed the collaborative experience, and the app was able to reflect their high-level thinking. On the other hand, WeKWL has some issues that need to be fixed. It is entirely possible there was a quick fix that I could not find. Although I am pretty savvy with apps and programs, I am no expert when it comes to programming. In the end, I believe WeKWL has great potential, but for now, I would say user beware. For more information, check out the GCISD LEAD With Technology Blog review!