Okay . . . if you’re a Wikipedia hater, calmly move along. Nothing to see here. (Go here instead. Or maybe even here. Then feel free to come on back. We’re gonna go ahead and start without you but jump in anytime.)

If you believe that Wikpedia has value and can be used appropriately as a teaching and learning tool, then I just learned about a cool little tool that may be useful.

Of course, Wikipedia has its main site in a wide variety of languages with thousands of articles. The English version has over 3,000,000 articles. Lots of great info here.

But one issue that I’ve heard K-8 teachers talk about is reading level. Because Wikipedia articles are written mostly by adults, for mostly adults readers, many articles can be difficult for K-8 students to comprehend. Even some high school kids may run into problems making sense of many Wikipedia articles.

For example, the article on Abraham Lincoln averages out at around 17.0 using two different Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level tests. So if I’m an 8th grader doing research on the Civil War or a fourth grader learning about presidents, the article just doesn’t do me much good.

Enter the cool tool.

Simple English Wikipedia.

We use Simple English words and grammar here. The Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone! That includes children and adults who are learning English.

It has a smaller article database (only some 17,000) but the idea is that the articles are written with the same basic content as the “grownup” version but with shorter sentences, smaller words and a simpler paragraph structure.

The Lincoln article on Simple English Wikipedia averages out on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level at around 8.0. Still useful info but just easier for younger kids to deal with.

Cool idea.

One more reason to not hate Wikipedia.

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