Holidays and Seahorses!

by frances 28. December 2008 12:41

Holidays in Nelson Bay have been an annual event for quite some time! It is a delightful and peaceful place with unbelievable scenery - yachts, islands, fishing boats, parasailing, and, lots of sand castles and squeals of young children glimpsing a pod of dolphins swimming nearby.

How can Holidays be used as a WebQuest? What would be the messy problem here?

In November (6th, 2008), there was a terrific science program, Catalyst, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about Seahorses and their conservation. And guess what, the best place for this study was right outside our unit at Nelson Bay!

This program is available on video:

There are a couple of aspects of this story that could be the basis of a WebQuest:

1. Should the Catalyst program identify the exact place where these beautiful creatures live, leaving the area open to invasion by people who would like to profit from them and leave the population more vunerable? (See some of the comments left at Catalyst website)

2. Or, Seahorses are in danger - should we research and save them? The roles could be: Biologists at Kalbarri WA who run research and a retail seahorse aquarium business; Asian alternative medicine seller (who uses seahorses in their medicine); aquarium trader in seahorses; and, Conservationist and Researcher.

Keep an eye open during these Christmas holidays to think of ideas that could be used as a WebQuest! There are lots around from Cricket, to Sunburn (Tanning), to backyard drownings, to shark attacks, to how we celebrate this season!

The Big Question

by frances 15. December 2008 17:10

One of the most important elements of a WebQuest is The Big Question. It is sometimes called the Focus Question, or Essential Question. It provides the students with their focus throughout the WebQuest - an important scaffold, something they can refer back to at all times throughout their exploring and working on the WebQuest.

When you are creating a WebQuest, after deciding on the messy problem to be solve, this is the next element that you need to research and think about. This Big Question has to be a question that allows students to think through possibilities, issues and solutions to the messy problem. It can be an open-ended question. An open-ended question is sometimes called infinite response or unsaturated type questions as they allow a full range of ideas to be developed.

A great WebQuest "Conflict Yellowstone Wolves" with a good Big Question: "Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?" is an example of what teachers and creators of WebQuests should be aiming to achieve. This isn't an open-ended question but because this WebQuest has perspectives - Ranchers and Environmentalists - they will approach the question differently. This antagonism (a reflection of real life perspectives) allows students to use their emotional intelligence and they should be given mechanisms to help them resolve this conflict.

WebQuest Direct's Review:

Conflict Yellowstone Wolves  Gold award

 

Rating:  (Based on Higher Order Thinking and following the WebQuest Concept)
Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Religious Education & Values; Science
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Solving problems; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Judgement; Persuasion; Research
Grade Levels: Middle; Secondary / High School
Country: U.S.A. U.S.A.
Language: English

Author: Keith Nuthall

Created: 1997. Last updated 2006
Description: Suitable for students in Years 5 - 8 studying Ecology, or, Animal Behaviour, or Environment Studies. Older students studying Geography or Ecology or conflict or social conflict would find this an interesting and challenging problem. Conflict Yellowstone Wolves is a real-life inquiry-oriented activity that challenges students to solve a current complex problem. The big question is: "Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?" Students are to interact with experts, study past history, and develop a solution to the heated debate on reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park USA. The project consists of investigating wolf behaviour; researching the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program; defining and analysing the current problem from different perspectives; developing a solution as a group; and, concludes with the students writing and sending a letter to the editor or government official as a report on their solution - numerous real world feedback contacts are given.

Resources: adequate.

Evaluation rubric is provided.

Conclusion: just a wrap up with no further challenge to students.

Teacher's Guide is provided and includes Duration: 7 days; and, lesson plans.

Design and layout: clean design with images that enhance the activity.

This WebQuest could be improved with more defined roles and a few more quirky resources.

Also at: http://powayusd.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/teaching_learning/mt&r/ConflictYellowstoneWolf.htm Images are not linked in this version.
http://www.teachersfirst.com/autoframe.htm?http://powayusd.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/mtr/ConflictYellowstoneWolf.htm
Was at: http://www.powayschools.com/projects/mt&r/ConflictYellowstoneWolf.htm

Using Audio and Avatars

by frances 12. December 2008 08:59

There are many great WebQuests for the classroom - any classroom! Students can undertake a WebQuest once they have learnt to read right through to Year 12 and beyond!

I have seen teachers make marvellous WebQuests for Kinders - Year 3, because they have taken the trouble to add audio to the text of the WebQuest. In fact, it is a great idea to add audio to WebQuests for older students as well! It certainly aids students understanding if you can give them the content in different formats.

This is a simple process to do! Go and have a look at 7 Tips for Using Audio on Your Website 

Also, for something a little different, think about adding an avatar who can "speak" to your students on your WebQuest - have a look at the following site: Voki: it's free!

 

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In the Classroom

The Outsiders Web Quest Project

by frances 10. December 2008 14:57

Recently while trolling through YouTube I came across a lot of videos under the search term "WebQuest" - I thought I would go and have a look! Here is the Outsiders WebQuest Project....

This appears to be a response and critique to the book along the theme of Friendship - a teacher directed project rather than a WebQuest! This presentation doesn't look like the students have completed a WebQuest at all - there doesn't appear to be a Big Question, a Messy Problem to solve, or roles undertaken to solve the problem! It appears to be .... "you have to read The Outsiders by Susan Eloise (S.E.) Hinton, choose a theme and make a presentation, oh and by the way you can use technology to present your findings." This doesn't make it a WebQuest!!!

It is also interesting and disconcerting the way the student author of this video describes the project - it feels like this is just another teacher directed project that students have to do - it doesn't seem to engage her at all - this doesn't describe a WebQuest: "My English teacher made us do a project on a theme from the book, The Outsiders, so me and Emma who is *Hermionepotterrules* (one of my bestfriends from school) did our theme on friendship!" (Source: comment from the author of this video!)

A WebQuest is so much more!!! It allows students to explore, solve, learn, motivate, think, and, communicate about an issue that requires their ideas and solutions!

 

If you want to have a look at some good WebQuests on The Outsiders, try the following:

 

WebQuest Direct's Review:  

Coming Soon to a School Near You: A Project on Youth Gangs  Gold award     

 

Rating:  (based on Higher Order Thinking Skills and the WebQuest concept)
Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Planning and organising activities; Solving problems; Using technology; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Consensus; Creative Product; Research
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: U.S.A. U.S.A.
Language: English

Author: Janice Cooper with James McGuire

Created: on or before 2002. Last updated 2008.

Description: Designed for Years 11 - 12 students studying Sociology. The issue these students must address is 'How can middle school students be influenced to make a thoughtful choice?' concerned with youth gangs. There is tie in to numerous literature - novels and film: Romeo and Juliet; The Catcher in the Rye; The Outsiders; Scorpions; West Side Story; The Warriors and The Odyssey. Each group is to design a media campaign to persuade middle school students to stay out or get out of gangs. In order to create a meaningful, effective campaign, each group must research and analyze some key issues: How are gangs defined? Which teenagers join gangs? Why do teenagers join gangs? Do gangs serve a purpose for teenagers? Are gangs a danger to the school? and Are gangs a danger to their own members? using their answers to these questions, students will then develop their persuasive media campaign to convince teenagers not to join gangs. Each person in the group is also required to choose a role - a former youth gang member, a student who is not a gang member, the school social worker / psychologist, and the principal. They are to decide what type of youth gang they would like to focus on: African American Gangs, Asian American Gangs, Hispanic American Gangs, Native American Gangs, Girl Gangs, Rural Gangs, Suburban Gangs and White Gangs. Groups are given two days to conduct their research and an additional two days to create their campaign. A TV commercial, webpage, or brochure are the options for the media component. Finally, the group is to present their media campaign in class. They are also to view the Time Magazine's photo essay, documentary on youth gangs entitled "Back”. Follow up: bring their media campaigns to a middle school rather than leaving it as a project to be viewed only in one classroom. Extension activity: read Youth Gang Novels (list included). Although written for American students, this activity can be adapted to suit other countries. Could be used in the Peer Support Program.

Evaluation rubric is provided.

Some challenge presented in Conclusion.

Resources: comprehensive.

Teacher's Guide: comprehensive with New Jersey Standards and National Standards listed; Duration: 3 -5 lessons. 

Design and layout: enhanced by some design; easy navigation.

Was also at: http://www.manchestertwp.org/gang_webquest.htm
 - this is now in the Internet Archive.

OR, another good WebQuest based on The Outsiders!

WebQuest Direct's Review:

 

The Outsiders - Teens and Life Choices  Silver award     

 

Rating:
Key Learning Areas: Careers; English & Language Arts (ELA); Life Skills
Key Competencies:
Tasks: Other
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: U.S.A. U.S.A.
Language: English

Author: James Good

Created: on or before 1999. Last updated 2001.

Description: Designed for students in Year 7 and based on the novel "The Outsiders" by S.E.Hinton. There are two distinct sections to this WebQuest and teachers could decide for students to only complete Part 1 (Part 2 on Careers does need Part 1 to be completed first). Part 1 investigates the characters within the Outsiders. Students are to form groups representing five Greasers and Socs. They are to plan a week of activities and guidelines for getting along in a camp setting. They will create a chart showing the objectives, the skills being learned, and the activities including: a daily schedule for each of the five days; the activities; location; what is needed; who does what; camp layout; and, mealtime organisation. They have to create a set of six guidelines for everyone to follow. In part two, students are to select a job or a career for their character based on his/her traits. They have to: make an education and career plan for their character; create a flow chart showing the steps and requirements in preparing for the career; and, write a letter of recommendation for their character that he/she could use to get a job or begin a career.

Resources: contained throughout the activities and are comprehensive.

Evaluation rubric is provided.

Conclusion: is just a wrap up with no further challenges to students.

Teacher's Guide is comprehensive and contains: Curriculum Standards for Langage Arts Standards; implementation advice, and, Duration: 3 weeks.

Design and layout: well designed with images breaking up the content into reasonable chunks of information.

Also at: http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/lewis/outsiders/index.html

WebQuest Direct has reviewed 19 WebQuests on the Outsiders!

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Videos, Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts

ABC: The Philosopher's Zone: Teaching children to be philosophers

by frances 6. December 2008 16:15

This program which was aired today from the ABC's Radio National Program - The Philosopher's Zone describes how important it is in the curriculum to have Philosophy for Children (P4C) and related programs or ways to promote THINKING in students in the classroom.

As the Secretary for the ACT SOPHY (Philosophy for Children Association), I firmly believe that we need to encourage students to think and express their thoughts in a respectful manner through P4C. It is a fabulous tool! One of the techniques that can be used in P4C is WebQuests. WebQuests encourage higher order thinking and collaboration amongst students to solve a messy problem.

In The Philosopher's Zone - Teaching children to be philosophers, Associate Prof. Phil Cam said it is essential that we get our students to think rather than loading them up with facts. Absolutely Phil! Let's hope that the Committee overseeing the National Curriculum was listening!

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General

Our Graphic Designer

by frances 4. December 2008 10:47
Louise Grant or "Fuzz" is our graphic designer who makes our WebQuest Templates for our Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool(SWAT). Louise is the feature illustrator on the British Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) site for the next three months! Check out her work at the SCBWI website.   Or click on her logo to go to her website! Fuzz also has a great blog - worth a visit!

 

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Other WebQuest & Educational Blogs

As I come across other WebQuest Blogs (& Educational ones), I will list them here.

Jane Hart's Blog (Jane is a Social Technologies Guru in UK)

Scot Aldred's Blog (Colleague at Central Queensland University and guru on Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

The Innovative Educator

Digital Education Blog

Blogging Corner Carnival

eLearn Magazine Blog

Dr. Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine

Primary School.com.au Blog

Charlie Sullivan - Charlie does a fantastic job collating websites for Primary schools.

De Tools Blog

This blog by and for online educators and features free web based tools applications and resources. Author: John Goldsmith.

Bright Ideas: a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria

The Book Whisperer

This blog is written by Donalyn Miller, a 6th Grade teacher in Texas, who is reknown for encouraging students to read!

 

Clustr Map

Created WebQuests

Champions of Justice
Federator
Gold Force
Community Shopping Centre Planner
Can you get the party started?
Reminders of our moral conscience
The Petrov Affair
Careers
My Business Rules
Pluto's planetary status