Forgotten Whales

by frances 27. June 2009 14:26

 

(Source: IWC)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has heard reports about the smallest cetaceans: Dolphins, porpoises and small whales from the WWF, the news report cited

The Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garratt, said to the IWC meeting in Portugal that Whales were worth more alive than dead as the Whale watching business was worth around $3Billion worldwide.

On the other hand, European countries are set to increase their whale quota - to that above the Japanese scientists!!

This is a typical scenario for a great WebQuest:

  • It involves a real life situation that is "messy" and involves Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
  • antagonistic yet legitimate views are held by different perspectives or roles
  • collaboration is required to obtain an outcome
  • emotional intelligence is used
  • Higher Order Thinking Skills of Analysis, Evaluation, Creativitiy [Synthesis] have to be used to work out a solution to this messy problem

I love the fact that you can bring real life and important events into the classroom while exploring the curriculum. In this case, the curriculum could be Ecology, Biology - particularly Diversity of Species, Political Sciences, Philosophy for Children (P4C), Values Education, Economics, or Geography.

 

 

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Michael Jackson is Dead

by frances 26. June 2009 16:04
Source: ABC Unleashed  
     
"For decades we have been entertained and reviled by his bizarre mix of talent and dysfunction.
   
What makes someone like Michael Jackson a superstar and what deeper role did he play in our society?" Source: ABC Unleashed  
   
This news story of entertainer, Michael Jackson, dying at 50, could easily be the start of a great WebQuest in two subject areas: Media, and, Music.
    
One of the main things a WebQuest should do is be relevant to the student body! This is called "with-it-ness" by teachers.
There of course have been varied responses to the amount of media coverage on his death and Michael Jackson's life - from those who think he isn't worthy of such coverage to those who are mourning a great song writer and entertainer!
    
These responses indicate that a great WebQuest could be created and developed from this event!!!
                  

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Stem Cells

by frances 26. June 2009 15:52

Another fabulous ABC Catalyst last night on Stem Cells.

Source: ABC Catalyst

"Catalyst takes a look behind the headlines of the stem cell story. Stem cells have the potential to treat any diseases which need healthy new cells - from heart disease, alzheimers, parkinsons, and diabetes to spinal cord injuries. Stem cells come from embryos, but they also are hidden in the tissues of our bodies. But which cells should we use, and why?

We also examine the thorny issue of therapeutic cloning which scientists say offers great promise in delivering embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the patient. Just how far should we go in the search for medical cures?" (Source: ABC Catalyst) [My emphasis]

Both these questions could be regarded as the Focus, Essential or Big Question within a WebQuest about Stem Cells.

The heart of a WebQuest is the Big Question. This question is to challenge students to explore further into the subject material and to THINK!

Learning, using, practising Critical Thinking Skills is essential for students today as they face new problems that our society has never faced before.

This Science topic would make a fabulous WebQuest for Biology or Religious Education.

Devil in the Detail - Should we bother?

by frances 26. June 2009 15:27
     
This is a great website showing
  • the contagious cancer inflicting the Tasmanian Devils;
  • Cedric the first Devil to have immunity to several strains of this disease;
  • efforts to prevent extinction;
  • offers to sequence the Devil's genome from Dr. Vanessa Hayes,
  • and, lots more.

This would be a great topic for a WebQuest especially for those students who are interested in Biology, Ecology, or Molecular Biology.

 

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

What is a "real" WebQuest?

by frances 20. June 2009 10:36

I have been coming across some really terrible "WebQuests" lately!

They have been mostly a series of web-based activities around a theme rather than a REAL WebQuest!

What is a REAL WebQuest?

Here are some pointers.........

  1. The WebQuest should incorporate Problem-based Learning (PBL). So there needs to be a messy, authentic problem to solve. This is usually in the form of a Big Question (Focus Question, Essential Question).
      
  2. It should incorporate Collaborative Learning Principles - group work.
       
  3. There needs to be roles or perspectives that reflect the society's values. For example, if the problem was around the big question: "Should the International Whaling Commission [IWC] ban Whaling?";
    the roles could be:
    • A Green Peace representative
    • A Japanese Scientist
    • An Indigenous representative, representing those Indigenous peoples whose tradition is to undertake whaling
    • A Whale Watching Entrepreneur who has developed a business around Whale Watching
    • An Historian or UN Lawyer who researches the past decisions around Whaling.
  4. These roles can be antagonistic [as the above example] - where different alliances are formed! But they are NOT to be research roles or reporting roles!

  5. The activities MUST promote Higher Order Thinking

  6. The scaffolding - Introduction, Task, Process, Resources, Evaluation, and Conclusion are present.

  7. The Conclusion calls for further action on the part of the student.

Below is the Criteria that WebQuest Direct uses to provide an Educational Rating for each WebQuest they review:

WEBQUEST CREATION CRITERIA CHECKLIST

Section Content Score/135
Home Page
(Optional)
This is to be like a book cover – intriguing and interesting.

There should be a hook here to introduce the students to the big question (has to be an open ended question). 

Images are important here and throughout the WebQuest to enhance visual literacy.
/10
Introduction Catchy Title

Introduces a Real Messy Problem to be solved.
/10
Task Point Form summarising the tasks that the students have to achieve

Background for Everyone

Higher Order Thinking Skill Activities present
/10
Process Interesting and complex (messy) and real problem to solve

Higher Order Thinking Skill (HOTS) Activities present: This is essential!
o One
o Two
o Three
o More
 Perspectives or Roles present – hopefully antagonistic and reflecting the “real” world. These roles should NOT be research roles only.

Team work – Cooperative Learning

Steps showing students what they have to do – clear, concise, sequential,
/35 (of which 15 points will be assigned to the Messy Problem and 15 points
will be assigned
to HOTS)
Resources Relevant to student age, readability, and, role

Extensive

Quirky – giving students different perspectives
/10
Evaluation Rubric showing all the tasks that the students are to undertake for assessment

Optional: peer assessment
Optional: self assessment
/10
Conclusion Encourages local and/or further action – another activity that is to be assessed.

Real World Feedback

Reflection of Learning

Is NOT a motherhood statement or platitude eg. “Congratulations, you now know about....”
/10
Teacher's Guide Learners – Age, State, Country,
Curriculum Standards Addressed – listed and linked

Duration – number of lessons (if below 4 lessons, this will be considered a research assignment only – as not enough time has been given to Higher Order Thinking Skills).

Process – Lesson Plans (or, any ideas for other teachers to consider)

Resources – any resources that could be used by the teacher in preparation for this unit of work

Pre-requisites
/20
Visual Impact/Use of Audio Appropriate Template/Design used on Home Page and subsequent pages

Images or graphics used to aid students

Layout and Design – font size appropriate to target audience; colour of font; navigation; placement of images
 Use of audio especially for students in Pre-school or early Primary/Elementary years.
/10
Use of Technology Technology Skills developed or Technology used eg. Kids Pix; iMovie; Zoomerang; Kahootz; animation; PowerPoint; Wiki; podcast; Inspiration; Mind Mapping; Venn Diagrams /10
  Total Score /135

 Star Rating 

<10 – 19 points = 0 star

20 points = 0.5 star

30 points = 1 star

40 points = 1.5 stars

50 points = 2 stars

60 points = 2.5 stars

70 points = 3 stars

80 points = 3.5 stars

90 points = 4 stars

100 points = 4.5 stars

110 points + = 5 stars

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What is a WebQuest?

Leaders in Education Must Encourage Creativity and Innovation!

by frances 18. June 2009 14:35

"Sir Ken Robinson, a leading thinker on education, creativity and innovation, argues that it is an economic imperative in a world where imagination and innovation are crucial to the future, that education becomes more diverse, more creative and fleshes out the kinds of schools he says are part of the solution." (Source: ABC 7.30 Report)

To see a wonderful video of Sir Ken speaking on the topic: "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"

"Creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it as such"! (Quote from the video)

This video and Sir Ken in the interview on th 7.30 Report was inspiring!

Sir Ken Robinson

We need to educate our children not out of creativity and innovation but into them!

I think one of the best ways is to provide children with real problems to solve and to come up with solutions in a cooperative way! Allowing them to express themselves in a creative way needs to be encouraged!

One way I have found is to use Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and especially WebQuests!

However, this is NOT going to happen without our Principals (UK: Head Teachers) leading their staff to change the way they teach! We have to break out of the Industrial model that has been imposed on our systems of education since the 1800s.

We need to prepare our students for a totally different world to the one we live in - if they are to survive and flourish.

Have a go at creating a WebQuest and ensure that creativity and innovation are encouraged through the tasks presented.

Sir Ken's new book is: The Element! I'm about to go out and buy it.

If you would like to follow Sir Ken on Twitter, click here

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Research & Case Studies

Adding Podcasts to WebQuests

by frances 10. June 2009 14:49

 

Adding any technology tools, videos, wikis, blogs, and podcasts enhances student learning! These are the 21st Century tools of Education!

The Department of Education, Western Australia, has a wonderful page full of information and help about: 

  • how to create a podcast,
     
  • the educational value of podcasts,
      
  • where to go to get educational podcasts,
      
  • how to get started,
      
  • where to host it for free, and,
        
  • more importantly examples of how teachers are using them in the classroom.

Worth a good read!

Two other outstanding websites are: 

  • University & College Podcasts - Free Educational Podcasts: This website contains links to the podcasts of lectures of numerous Universities around the world from Harvard to Oxford, to Stanford to UCLA.
        
  • Podcast Directory: This is a huge directory of Podcasts that can be used within the Classroom! This site allows you to Add a Podcast, Remove a Podcast, and, Search for Podcast by country or topic. Teachers would need to use this directory themselves as there is inappropriate categories listed.

All WebQuests can use Podcasts within their Resources area. As teachers, you can create your own podcast, host it on a free website, and then link to it within a WebQuest. This allows students to listen to the information on their MP3 players at their leisure. Great for students with enhanced Audio intelligence. 
 

Enjoy Podcasting!

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Videos, Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts

State of Play

by frances 3. June 2009 17:50

    

Last night I went to see "State of Play" with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and, Helen Mirren. It has been given rave reviews (ABC, At the Movies) and is based on the BBC mini-series (2003) of the same name (although the BBC version is about the UK government and Oil Companies). I saw the mini-series and loved it! The film, I think, enhanced the mini-series due mainly to the well-crafted and fast action of this thriller. Russell Crowe is outstanding in the lead role. I liked Bill Nighly as the Herald's Editor (in the mini-series) but Helen Mirren is just as good, if not better!

To base a WebQuest around this movie and mini-series, Media Teachers, could use this material as stimulus material and then give the students the following problem: Spooks, another outstanding BBC mini-series, has been proposed as a Hollywood film......

Students, in teams [of course!] would need to come up with a proposal that differentiates from the BBC mini-series but still has the essence of that production. Students would need to work out casting, script, and, technology (updates) to convert this to a movie.

 

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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!

 

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Created WebQuests

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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