Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/Children's Literature Fall11 (Adrianne Wadewitz)

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Course description[edit]

Broad Ripple Park Carousel at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
In this course we will explore how writers of children’s literature from the 17th century to the 21st century have molded distinctive gendered, national and religious images of childhood and how these depictions have contributed to the cultures in which they participated. We will be asking questions about how different time periods and cultures defined childhood and how those definitions shape our own understandings of education and childcare. We will take especial care to investigate what children’s literature tells us both about the adult culture that produced this literature and the children (and tweens, teens, and adults) that read it. We will investigate a variety of genres, including the fairy tale, the school story, the picture book, the fantasy novel, and the textbook, as a way to think about various definitions of children’s literature.


In this semester-long assignment, you will select an item from the collections of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis and write an article on it for the Simple English Wikipedia, a version of Wikipedia aimed at child readers. In this assignment, you will gain several skills:

  • Learn to write for an audience of children, some of whom will react to your writing in real time
  • Learn to write collaboratively and to negotiate
  • Understand the difference between summary and persuasive writing
  • Learn how the construction of information changes knowledge
  • Contribute to the largest reference work in the world
  • Improve research skills
  • Gain media literacy, such as how Wikipedia’s legitimacy differs from that of other reference works

Unlike many papers you have written in the past, your Wikipedia article will not argue for a particular position. The aim is for you to do research on a topic and summarize the reliable, published material on that topic. We will talk more in-depth about what it means to write an encyclopedia article, but you should be aware that the writing I am asking for in this assignment is much different than the writing I am asking for in the short responses or essay—for Wikipedia, you must summarize other people’s points of view. In your persuasive essays, you must present a debatable thesis. We will work at differentiating these two over the course of the semester.

While many of you probably use the English Wikipedia every day to look up plots for movies or background material for your papers, we will be writing for the Simple English Wikipedia. While the Simple English Wikipedia has many audiences—children, those who are learning English, students, and many more—we will primarily be thinking of our audience as children. We will adhere to the rules of writing in Basic English as laid out by the Simple English Wikipedia and challenge ourselves to communicate with a young audience--as the Simple English Wikipedia emphasizes, although the words used are basic, the information conveyed is not. We will also be working with staff from the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, who will instruct us on how best to write for children and how to present their materials in an encyclopedic form.

Editing a wiki is often a demanding experience the first time. I have structured this assignment to slowly introduce you to wikicode and wikiculture—it is imperative that you keep up with the timeline and turn in the small assignments on time. You cannot catch up at the end of the semester in a mad rush. Much help is available—from myself, from our Campus Ambassador and Online Ambassadors, and from Wikipedians in general. Take advantage of it!

Instructor and Ambassadors[edit]

Adrianne Wadewitz (talk)
Campus Ambassadors
Brenda Burk (talk), Justin Anthony Knapp (talk)
Online Ambassadors
Sonia (talk), Donald Albury (talk), PrincessofLlyr (talk), LoriLee (talk)


Aug 22: Wikipedia essentials[edit]

Presentation by myself and Campus Ambassador (~15 minutes)

Aug 29: Basic editing, part 1[edit]

Presentation by Campus Ambassador and myself in a computer lab (~1 hour)

Sept 5: Exploring Wikipedia[edit]

Assignment 1 due
  • Create a Wikipedia account, play in the public sandbox, create a userpage on the Simple English Wikipedia, sign up on the list of students on the course page, and read Five pillars.
  •  Done

Sept 12: Sourcing and community norms[edit]

Presentation by myself and Campus Ambassador (~45 minutes)

Sept 19: Basic editing, part 2[edit]

Presentation by myself and Campus Ambassador (~30 minutes)
Assignment 2 due
  • To practice editing and communicating on Wikipedia, introduce yourself to one of the class's Online Ambassadors and leave a message for a classmate on their talk pages.
  •  Done

Sept 26 – Oct 10: Museum visits[edit]

Assignment 3 due (Sept 26)
September 26
Visit to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
  •  Done
October 3
Guest lecture by Cathy Hanaker on how to write for children
  •  Done

Oct 17: Wikipedia article selection[edit]

  • Assignment 4 Due: Choose one of the Wikipedia articles from the list provided by the instructor. Add your username and article to the table below, following the sample.
  •  Done

Oct 24: Bibliography[edit]

  • Assignment 4 Due: Research the topic of your article and create a bibliography of at least 10 scholarly peer-reviewed books and articles that could potentially be used as sources for your article. Place this list of sources on the talk page of the article, alerting the editing community there that you plan on improving the article. The Children's Museum has made this page as a place for us to start finding resources.
  •  Done

Oct 31: First edits[edit]

  • Assignment 5 Due: If you are starting a new article, write a 3-4 sentence summary with a citation and send it to the instructor for approval. After it has been approved, create the article and post an outline of the article as you are going to write it to the talk page.
  • Assignment 5 Due: If you are improving an existing article, post an outline of your revisions to the talk page.
  • Work with classmates and Online Ambassadors to fix any major transgressions of Wikipedia norms.
  • Continue research in preparation for expanding your article.
  •  Done

Nov 1–14: Editing[edit]

  • Add material to the the article per your outline, following the conventions of Wikipedia. Be sure to post to the talk page to alert the community to your intentions. Try to edit in small increments to avoid procrastination. By the end of the semester, you need to have added at least 1500 words to the article.
  •  Done

Nov 14–28: Peer review[edit]

  • Due by Nov. 14: Peer review two of your classmates' articles. Leave suggestions on the article talk pages.
  • Due by Nov. 21 Copy-edit the two reviewed articles.
  • Due by Nov. 28 Make edits to your article based on peers' feedback.
  •  Done

Dec 5: Wikipedia contributions due[edit]

  • Students have finished all their work on Wikipedia that will be considered for grading.
  •  Done

Dec 12: Reflective essay due[edit]

  • Turn in your reflective essay on Oncourse
  •  Done


This table will list each article that a student is working on, and which other students will be peer reviewers for the article.

User Article 1st reviewer 2nd reviewer Improvement
meganblair1 Carousel Tourtles22 Dolyn27 Edits
Jsollowa Barbie LRNJEOZ Wake0421 Edits
LRNJEOZ Action figure Tourtles22 meganblair1 Edits
Wake0421 Monopoly (game) Jsollowa Dolyn27 Edits
gmumphre Dreidel open open
Dolyn27 Atari 2600 Wake0421 meganblair1 Edits
Tourtles22 Teddy bear Jsollowa LRNJEOZ Edits

Article banners

To mark each article the subject of a student project, add the following code at the top of the talk page for each article: {{ WAP assignment | course = Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/Children's Literature Fall11 (Adrianne Wadewitz) | university = Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis | term = 2011 Q3 | project = WikiProject Children's Literature }} That will result in the following banner (and make the articles easy to track):


Wikipedia contributions will be graded as follows:

  • 5 points × 5: Early Wikipedia exercises
  • 15 points: Peer reviews
  • 10 points: Collaborative comments and copyedits onwiki
  • 25 points: Reflective essay
  • 75 points: Wikipedia contributions


The bulk of communication in this class will take place on the Simple English Wikipedia.

Add your username to the list here using the format for Example User below: