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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

WebQuests 101
Sandy Scragg

A WebQuest is a structured, inquiry-oriented activity for students utilizing resources found on the Internet . They are literally quests in which students are given a task to complete and a role that helps them complete it, all while using the Internet resources provided by their teacher. Most often, tasks are divided up according to groups and students must work collaboratively to complete the task assigned.

WebQuests are written for students, not teachers. They should be immediately accessible to the student in terms of reading-level, motivation, and interest.

The traditional WebQuest contains an Introduction, a Task, the Process, an Evaluation, and the Conclusion. (If the WebQuest is intended for a larger audience, a Teacher Page should also be added for those teachers who may want to use your WebQuest in their own classrooms.) The process is usually broken up into group assignments. Sometimes each group has part of the task to complete; sometimes each group member is assigned specific task to bring back to their group members. This site breaks down each area of a WebQuest, explaining each thoroughly, and provides examples for each area: http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/staffdev/buildingblocks/p-index.htm

WebQuests contain pre-selected web sites for students to access. The teacher comes up with a task that is open-ended , closer to an ¡§essential question¡¨ type of inquiry. WebQuests often ask students to take on a role and puts them in a hands-on, engaging environment.

The audience for a WebQuest is a student, not a teacher. No lesson plan style procedures should be apparent in the WebQuest document.

Keep in mind that WebQuests are NOT scavenger hunts; they involve higher-order thinking skills and should not be merely lists of questions for students to answer.

The task of a WebQuest should be motivating for students. Think of something that would truly be of interest to your students while still staying within the curriculum. By giving students a role (You are a famous explorer; You are an editor on a New York City newspaper; You are a police detective), they have a point-of-view and they have a motivation. They take on a role, then complete the task, and reflect upon it back in their role as student.

More and more, the web is full of useless or biased information as advertisers are becoming more savvy about using the web for marketing. Ensuring that students are using quality resources is important. By screening and selecting the web resources students must use while on their WebQuest, you are guaranteeing that they are accessing educative and content-rich resources that are intended to inform.

How to Get Started with Your Own WebQuest:

  • Use the template page designed by Bernie Dodge. http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/staffdev/tpss99/mywebquest/index.htm . Whack the template page and then edit it in an html program like Front Page or Dreamweaver. Don't have either of these programs? Download a free version of Netscape and access the Composer function¡Xit's a very easy-to-learn html editor.
  • Become familiar with web resources in your subject area appropriate for students . Visit teacher portals that contain lots of links to teacher- and student-friendly resources (see our page of curriculum links). Go to museum and government sites; there are a lot of free and quality web resources published by both of these sources. Always review web sites (and the links from them) to make sure they're appropriate for students in terms of both content and reading-level.
  • Perhaps the first and foremost part of creating a WebQuest is coming up with a good task. Tasks should be interpretive, open-ended and motivating for students, all while meeting your curriculum goals and learning standards. Visit Bernie Dodge's page on creating good tasks: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/taskonomy.html.

Want to just use some WebQuests? Go to http://webquest.org run by Bernie Dodge, and visit his portal of WebQuests. They are organized by grade level and subject area. Visit the top section for WebQuests that most closely resemble his WebQuest model.

Recommended WebQuest resources:

Essential parts of a WebQuest:
http://thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/webquests/index.html

Teachers Network WebQuest page: http://teachersnetwork.org/webquests

WebQuest evaluation rubric: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/webquestrubric.html

How-to WebQuests: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/materials.htm

"Why Not Create a WebQuest This Summer?" by Judy Jones: http://teachersnetwork.org/ntol/howto/develop/webquest.htm

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Sandy.

Sandy Scragg is a consultant forTeachers Network's TeachNet Project. She has been a technology trainer, staff developer, and an English teacher for the New York City Public Schools.

 

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