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2.1.5 PracticeMy Wikipedia

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Practice Guide

Media Literacy (S2318458)

 

 

In this assignment, you’ll be creating a Wikipedia-style entry of your own. Your entry can be about anything you want, as long as it’s not about yourself. Combine your own expertise with information gathered from at least two sources, and then compose two to three well-organized paragraphs about a topic that fascinates you.

 

Just don’t use Wikipedia to do your research. Try to add something brand-new to the world’s largest encyclopedia. 

Make sure to address the following questions in your Wikipedia entry:

 

  • How, when, and where did this topic originate?
  • What are some major characteristics of this topic?
  • How did this topic develop over time and who or what contributed the most to its development?
  • What detail do many people not know about this topic?

 

The key to writing a successful Wikipedia entry is researching information that interests you. Your goal is to collect and share your knowledge with a larger audience. To do this, you’ll want to select the most interesting details and present them in a clear and organized way that engages your readers. 

Hint: If you choose to write a biographical Wikipedia entry — whether it is about someone you know personally (such as a teacher or a family member) or a famous person (Cleopatra, Wyatt Earp, or Lady Gaga) — select the most important information you’ll want to bring up. For example, you’ll want to include where and when this person grew up, as well as highlights from his or her life and career. Don’t forget to mention at least one detail that most people don’t know about your subject.

 

Step 1: Understanding the Assignment

You can choose most any topic you want as long as it interests you and isn’t autobiographical. Your topic, for example, could be a music group you like, a scientific theory, an invention, an inspiring public figure, or your dream vacation spot. If you’re having a hard time choosing your topic, the following brainstorming activity will help you:

  1. On a piece of paper, quickly jot down the answers to the following questions:
    • If you could be anyone from any time in history, who would you be? 
    • What are your three favorite recreational activities?
    • What is your favorite subject in school?
    • If you could visit one city in the world, what would it be and what would you do there?
    • What’s the title of your favorite book, film, television program, or work of art?
  2. Now review the answers to these questions. Select the answer that seems the most interesting to you and write it at the top of a fresh piece of paper. Pretend that this is the topic of your Wikipedia entry. (Hint: If a topic seems too broad, like “watching television” or “English literature,” make it more specific; for example, “reality television” or “Jane Austen.”)
  3. Using a clock or a timer, spend five minutes brainstorming a list of everything you already know about the topic. Don’t worry about grammar or the order of the information. Just start writing. (Hint: If you get stuck, ask yourself this: If you were explaining this topic to someone who was learning about it for the very first time, what would you tell that person?)
  4. Now spend another three minutes making a list of the things you would like to know about the topic. 
  5. At this point, you should have quite a bit of information about this possible topic. You probably won’t use it all in your Wikipedia entry, but if you were able to come up with a long list of information you already know and a list of things you still want to know about the subject, it is probably a good assignment topic. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to writing your own Wikipedia entry. (If you decide you don’t want to write on this topic, try the brainstorming process again with another topic that interests you.)

Step 2: Researching Key Points

This assignment requires that you quote or paraphrase information from at least two sources. These sources can include books, magazines, newspapers, film, videos, radio or television news reports, or informational websites. (Note: Remember, don’t use Wikipedia for this research.) If you use a website as a source, make sure the information it contains is accurate. One way to do this is to consult websites with URLs that end in .gov, .net, or .edu. For example, for information about robots and robotics, you could consult www.robotics.nasa.gov, http://robots.net, and http://robotic.media.mit.edu. To start researching your topic, complete the following steps:

  1. Read over what you wrote during the previous brainstorming activity. From these notes, select three to five key points that interest you most.
  2. Now you can begin your research. Focus on learning more about just those three to five key points, as well as where, when, and how your topic originated. 

    Start by exploring sources that seem the most helpful. You may need to visit a library to find print sources, or you may spend some time conducting research online. If you use online sources, you may want to search for relevant articles on the websites of reputable news organizations, such the New York Times, Washington Post, or Newsweek. These can be reliable sources in addition to websites with URLs ending in .gov, .net, and .edu.

  3. As you find and read sources about your topic, make a quick note of any new and interesting details you discovered. Make sure that you make a copy or printout of potentially useful sources with their titles and the authors’ names. 

Step 3: Selecting Details

Once you’ve located at least two useful sources, review your list of key points again. This list may have grown as you conducted your research. Now it’s time to decide what your Wikipedia page is going to focus on.

Are any of the key points especially interesting to you? Did any of the information surprise you? 

Put a check mark next to key points about which you have enough information to write a paragraph. Also, note any other points that relate to the origin of the topic or its major characteristics. 

Step 4: Organizing Your Paragraphs

It’s almost time to start writing. First, make a quick outline of your paragraphs to help you organize your information. The following tips will help you draft an organized Wikipedia entry:

  1. Like real Wikipedia entries, your first paragraph will be an overview of your topic. Start with information about the origin (or birthplace) of your topic. Then, in the rest of this paragraph, describe the topic’s major characteristics and explain how these characteristics developed and anyone who helped to develop them.
  2. What you write about in the second and optional third paragraphs is up to you. Look back at the list of interesting details that you compiled during the brainstorming and researching steps. Review the key points you put a check mark next to (the ones about which you have enough interesting information to fill a paragraph). Which one of these key points would you like to add to your Wikipedia entry? How can you organize this information into a clear and coherent paragraph? Is there a logical order (such as a chronological order) in which to arrange this information? 
  3. Once you have your organized the ideas you want to include in your second paragraph, you can start outlining your third paragraph, if you choose to add it.

Step 5: Drafting Your Wikipedia Entry

Now it’s time to compose your paragraphs. Using your notes and your own knowledge, write at least two to three paragraphs about your topic. Begin with a paragraph about the topic’s origins and major characteristics. Use plenty of examples and specific details to inform and engage your audience.

  • Note: When you are writing, include a narrative citation any time you refer to information from one of your sources. To do this, just mention the title of the source and its author in the same sentence where the information appears. Here’s an example: In his article “The Origin of Robots,” author John Smith explained that interest in robots was at its height in the 1950s, when universities across the country launched graduate programs in advanced robotics. (Hint: Note that this sentence includes both the author’s name and the title of his article.)

Use a separate piece of paper if you need more room.

 

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Step 6: Revising Your Writing

When you’re done writing, take a moment to read over your work. Does it read smoothly? Are the sentences complete and grammatically correct? Did you catch any spelling or punctuation errors? Is there any information you forgot to add? Now is a good time to make any corrections and revisions. 

Great — you’re almost done. Take out your self-assessment checklist now. Read and answer the questions on this list. Are there any other revisions you would like to make to your Wikipedia entry now that you’ve reviewed the list? 

Good work! You’re finished! Now, if you want, feel free to post this online in a blog or add it to the realWikipedia.

 

Copyright © 2012 Apex Learning Inc. (See Terms of Use  at www.apexvs.com/TermsOfUse)

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