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WebQuest: Discovering Deserts
Home Introduction Process Task Evaluation Conclusion Credits
Teachers Script Standards Introduction Learners Standards Process Resources Evaluation Conclusion

Teacher Process

This lesson will take place over a six week period of time.  It will be taught for four one-hour periods per week.  The children will be divided into groups.  The groups will be carefully selected in order to have children with a variety of skills working together.  Each of the five groups should include a student who has technical proficiency to help with web research.  It will be important that the teacher works closely with every group on a daily basis and sets daily goals to be accomplished. The lesson is laid out below.  It is important to read and comprehend the lesson carefully before you try to implement it.  You can adapt it to your class and situation.
 The Student Process

You will be assigned to one of five areas of research and will become an expert in this area:
Environmental science

Part 1
Each group will first be responsible for coming up with a definition for "desert" and a list of conditions that exist in most deserts. They will also need to find out where in the world deserts are located by labeling them on a world map.

You will be keeping a word-processed journal in your research file on your server, there you will save information from the sources in your investigation as well as the bibliographic information.
You might decide to split responsibilities within your group, and check out different sites and other media resources (CD-ROMs, library books).

Zoologists will have to learn as much as you can about the animals that live in the desert and how they survive.
Botanists will have to learn about plants that live in the desert and how they survive.
Anthropologists will have to learn about the different peoples that have lived in the deserts and how they survived.
Environmentalists will have to learn about the problems that are facing deserts today.
Geologist will have to learn about the different geological features that can be found in deserts. How have these features been formed and how have they changed over time?

Before starting their research each group will have to produce a KWL document (What I know, What I want to know, What I have learned) and create a list of questions they will need to answer at the end of part one of this project.

Research Resources:
The following sites are places to research your area of expertise.

This is the main Desert USA site that has all the following links to it.  You can find links to desert life, desert talk, and weather just to name a few. Below are specific sites, which will be useful for specific areas.  If you go into Desert Life there will be links to minerals & Geology, Animals & Wildlife, Plants & Wildflowers, and People & Cultures.

The Ever Green Project has the biomes of the world, including the desert.   It has links to:
What is a Desert like?  Types of Deserts.  What causes Deserts?  Deserts of the World, Desert Plants, Desert Animals

Here is a site about the deserts of the world with a variety of links.  You will find all kinds of answers about the desert at this site.  For example, What is a Desert?  How the Atmosphere Influences Aridity.   Where Deserts Form.  Types of Deserts. Desert Features. Eolian Processes.  Types of Dunes. Remote Sensing of Arid Lands.  Mineral Resources in Deserts. Desertification.

Locations of deserts
This is world map with the deserts.   You can find the location of deserts around the world-- click on it to see if there is a pattern.

Biomes of the World
Here is a simply written site that gives you information about biomes and adaptations.  You can see the different biomes in the world including the desert.  This site can help you to understand adaptations.  There is a neat feature of this site that allows you actually write on a topic of concern with the environment and submit your work online.

Additional Web Resources

Desert Animals & Wildlife
Check out this site which explains how animals survive the desert and then there is an animal archive about mammals, Birds & Fish, Reptiles & Amphibians.  There is a link to the adaptation, which will link you  to Desert Animal Survival.

This is the link for the Desert People & Cultures.  Click on it to find out about the people who have adapted to the desert.

On the line : The Sahara
This site has links to deserts,  climate, landscape, geography,  plant life, animal life, conservation,  facts/ figures,  and nature home.  You can view this site then take the quiz  to see if your know your facts.

"Back to the the land".     Here’s another excellent site on the Sahara desert which includes the physical features, drainage, climate, plant life, animal life, people.  Not a lot of pictures, but it has nice short fact pages on the different subjects.  You can get lots of great information.

The Desert Caves.  This site is a project on the Saudi caves.  It has links including  Introduction, Picture Gallery, Exploring the Desert Caves, Reports, Bibliography.  If you want to find out specifically about the Saudi caves and what is currently happening with them, you will want to check this out.

Part 2

Each expert will be assigned to a new group comprised of one expert on each area.  Each expert will have to share their findings with their group and provide each member with the necessary information to put together a chart about deserts.

This chart will include an integration of all the information that has been gained in each individual area.  The chart will represent all areas of research.  An example will be shown to you.

Part 3

The mission

A very wealthy old woman has just passed away. After she died her company received this letter from her lawyer. She had written the letter several weeks before she died.

Dear Board Members:

When I was a young girl I lived very close to desert and have always loved deserts very much. It has always saddened me to think that many people don’t know about deserts.  I want to fix that.

As you know I am a very wealthy woman. My last request is that you take my money and you build a desert museum.  The museum should have interesting and dynamic exhibits.  People should be able to go to this museum and learn all about life in the desert.  The museum will have two wings.  One wing will be called "Humans and the Desert-Then and Now" or "The Desert Web of Life".

 I trust that you will see that my wishes come true.


Nila B. Duna

The company wants to grant Mrs. Duna’s wishes, but they don’t know anything at all about deserts.  They have decided before they do anything, they must learn a little bit about deserts.  They decide to bring in a panel of experts to teach them about the deserts.

Your group has been selected to participate in a proposal contest.  You are to work with your team of experts and prepare the layout of your museum.
After the approval from the Board of Directors, you and your team will proceed to create your virtual museum using Hyperstudio.

Part 4

Based on your proposal, you will be given a Hyperstudio template for your museum.

Your museum should include an information area, and at least two wings.  "Humans and the Desert-Then and Now" or "The Desert Web of Life" should be one of them.

 The museum must be attractive as well as informational.
 You must name your resources properly.
 You must include information in all the areas of expertise.

Part 5

Your proposal will be presented before a select panel of judges who will decide which of the research teams will get the grant to build the actual museum.  The winning team's Virtual Museum will be posted on the fourth grade level web site.



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