Teenage Opera & WebQuests

by admin 19. May 2010 15:57
This morning travelling home from Sydney (Australia), I was listening to the ABC Radio National's Bush Telegraph and their story about .... "Opera is normally associated with expensive tickets, overdressed patrons and foreign languages.

So when you give a group of teenagers 15 hours and a bunch of pens and paper, the last thing you'd expect is for them to write and compose their own opera.

About 80 teenagers in regional Victoria were given exactly that task, staging their own modern classic.

In this report: Murray Dahm, Project director of Wot Opera, Opera Australia" explains the project!

"WotOpera is an opera education initiative that provides secondary students from participating schools with the opportunity of creating an original opera and being involved in all aspects of its creation from conception through to performance. In 2010 the program will expand to include Bendigo, Sydney and Launceston. Twenty students from each school will participate in; character development, plot creation, writing the libretto, composing the music, casting, painting the backdrop, and performance." (Source: website)

What a great WebQuest this could be!!! And yes students can based their Opera on a TV Soap Opera but to date with this program, students have come up with interesting, varied and real life scenarios!

Teachers - don't leave it up to Opera Australia - have a go at creating a WebQuest based on the premise of Wot Opera and send it into Opera Australia! They would love a quality educational resource!  This will also expand the program to include your students and school instead of leaving it to the select few!!!


Introduce children and teenagers to Opera - this link contains a big listing of different Operas to introduce students to through DVDs.


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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests | In the Classroom

Learning Styles and ICT Tools

by admin 1. April 2010 16:38

While researching for Web 2.0 Tools that can be used in the classroom for the different AVK Learners (Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic), I came across a good site "100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner".

This article lists 100 tools divided up into the appropriateness of each tool to AVK learners.

This site explores different tools for Visual Learners - 34 in fact - divided into 3 categories: Mind Mapping; Charting & Diagrams; and, Videos and Photos.

For Audio Learners, there are 31 tools divided into the following categories: Podcasts; Presentation Tools; Audio Tools; Text Readers; and, Audio Books.

For Kinesthetic Learners, there are 34 tools listed in the categories: Note Taking Tools; Bookmarking; Interaction; and, Collaboration.

This collection of tools offers teachers a range of tools that can be incorporated into the classroom even if you are not using WebQuests. They are there to be investigated and will enhance any lesson.

I can see their great application to WebQuests. These tools will enable the teacher to create WebQuests that will cater for all their students covering all the AVKs.

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Article Review | In the Classroom | Tips on how to improve a WebQuest | Web Tools to improve a WebQuest

Building a Better Teacher - NY Times

by admin 4. March 2010 19:04

"Building a Better Teacher" by Elizabeth Green* and published in the New York Times on the 3rd March 2010 is an excellent article to read! [although 9 online pages long!]

In essence, Green reports on Doug Lemov's investigations on what makes "a quality teacher". Lemov explored the problem of different student outcomes based [as collated through standardised American tests] solely on the quality of teacher classroom management, after all the other extraneous elements were accounted for. Lemov has created his taxonomy of good classroom management [The official title, attached to a book version being released in April, is “Teach Like a Champion: The 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College.”]. You can read some segments of the book (PDF) here to get an idea of the classroom management techniques explored.

Lemov ignores the content of the lesson and concentrates purely on the classroom management techniques as a way that all teachers can teach and all students can learn.

But what about the passion of the content? What about the way content is delivered to students?

However, the article is balanced as it provides another dimension. Green goes on to ask the question... "Is good classroom management enough to ensure good instruction?" She describes the work of Heather Hill, an associate professor at Harvard University, who realised that even if a teacher has good pedagogical techniques but they don't know their subject matter very well - then students still do badly on standarised testing.

Hill is a member of a group of educators, who, like Lemov, are studying great teachers. But whereas Lemov came out of the practical world of the classroom, this group is based in university research centers. And rather than focus on universal teaching techniques that can be applied across subjects and grade levels, Hill and her colleagues ask what good teachers should know about the specific subjects they teach.

The wellspring of this movement was Michigan State’s school of education, which, under the direction of Judith Lanier, one of the original Holmes Group members, took the lead in rethinking teacher education. Lanier overhauled Michigan State’s teacher-preparation program and helped open two research institutes dedicated to the study of teaching and teacher education. She recruited innovative scholars from around the country, and almost overnight East Lansing became a hotbed of education research. (Green, 2010, NY Times, p 6)

This group of researchers consider both the mechanics of teaching as well as teachers knowing their subject matter as essential to be a quality teacher.

I think it is extremely important to give all teachers Professional Development (Teacher Professional Learning - TPL) in pedagogy. Lemov's taxonomy could be a good tool especially for student and beginning teachers but teachers also need to know their subject material very well and be passionate about it!

One way to address both these requirements is to use great WebQuests - they have sound pedagogical techniques behind them (Problem Based Learning, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Constructivism, Cooperative Learning, Social and Emotional Learning) and the content should have been created in such a way to get students to think and become passionate about the learning.  

*Elizabeth Green is a Spencer fellow in education reporting at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the editor of GothamSchools.org.

Here is some video examples from the Uncommon Schools that use Lemov's Taxonomy as classroom management techniques

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Article Review | In the Classroom | Research & Case Studies


by frances 8. December 2009 14:21

Kiva.org "We Let You Loan to Low Income Entrepreneurs".....Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on Kiva, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else."

Kiva.org will allow students to participate in micro-credit and carry on the work of Muhammad Yunus, the Noble Peace Prize winner. Or they can investigate Yunus' ideas on social business through his website.


If you are creating a WebQuest around Poverty, Economics, or Commerce consider using this Resource!

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In the Classroom

Climate Change +WebQuests

by frances 23. July 2009 12:10

Safe Climate Australia has been recently launched. This organisation is a non-profit organisation with numerous scientists and others involved in renewable energy being the founding members. This type of organisation would be a good one to introduce students to especially in the Conclusion of a WebQuest where Real World Feedback is sometimes required. Getting students to contact real scientists with their own views, solutions or ideas helps students to recognise that their own work is important!



WebQuest Direct has over 75 WebQuests on Global Warming and Climate Change.

Here is a 5 Star (the best) WebQuest about Global Warming!

Global Warming: Can you feel the heat?  Gold award     

Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Science
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; Creative Product; Journalistic; Persuasion; Research; Science
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English
 Author: Kerrie Malcolm (2008)

Designed for students in Year 9 studying Science particularly Earth Science and Global Warming. It could also be used in Social Sciences particularly Geography. Students are given the following scenario: "Global warming is currently a hot topic (no pun intended!) and producers of BTN [Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Behind The News, TV show for students] are dedicating five episodes, each 5-10 minutes long, to global warming." Students, in groups, are to select one episode to create and submit to BTN their 3 minute video. They are asked that each episode give viewers an understanding of the effects, causes and solutions to Global Warming. Working as a news crew, each team is to research, write, produce, interview, role play, direct and video tape either: "Episode 1, How are weather patterns changing as a result of global warming? Interview a television weather person, or a weather person from your local Bureau of Meteorology about effects such as rising temperatures, El Nino, and the increased intensity of storms and cyclones; or, Episode 2, Sea levels are gradually rising due to global warming, but that is not the only effect being observed in our oceans. Interview an officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and ask them about coral bleaching, and the acidification of the oceans. This segment could also demonstrate what might happen to the food chains of the ocean with further acidification; or, Episode 3, Investigate the causes of global warming, both natural and human activities. Talk to a scientist about how the carbon cycle is becoming unbalanced; or, Episode 4, The Australian Government intends to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme. Discuss the scheme and its implications for industry and the economy with your local member of the federal parliament; or, Episode 5, Alternative energy can be produced from renewable and non-renewable resources. Contact a company that installs solar or wind energy equipment. Interview someone from the company and ask them to explain how alternative energy sources produce electricity and about the advantages and disadvantages of using their product." There are four roles: Presenter, Director, Camera Person, and, Guest Interview Person. After completing their video, students are to submit their best 3 minutes to BTN which now has a segment on their website that encourages the submission of a 3 minute video which will either be televised or put on the BTN website. Resources comprehensive. Evaluation rubrics for self evaluation, peer assessment and, teacher assessment are provided. Conclusion contains a challenge to submit their videos to other competitions and provides ideas for other projects that students could be involved in. Teacher's Guide is comprehensive and contains Curriculum Standards for Science and English; Duration: 8 lessons; and, a Lesson Plan implementation as well as addition resources and ideas. Design and Layout: Tips to improve this WebQuest: giving the students some more scaffolding within the process for editing the video; suggest that the students to put their videos onto YouTube as well as sending it to BTN; and, maybe use Movie Maker - a Video editing software that is free and very easy to use. Last updated 2008.

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests | In the Classroom

Designing Your Project

by frances 10. March 2009 10:13
Project-Based Learning has been inspiring teachers and students for some time now! WebQuests are a tool to deliver Project-Based Learning as well as Problem-Based Learning.
WebQuests are a sub-set of Problem-Based Learning and the elements involved are common to both.
This website explores these elements on designing your WebQuest or Project.
A sample project-planning form:
1. Begin with the end in mind
2. Craft the driving question
3. Plan the assessment, part 1.
4. Plan the assessment, part 2.
5. Map the project, part 1
6. Map the project, part 2
7. Manage the process
You might be asking the question: Why? Why should I go down this path in teaching my students?
Don't believe me when I tell you that real, great WebQuests motivate students, help them to think, solve real problems, encourages collaboration and cooperation, and, lower classroom management time! Go and have a read of this recent article (you might need to register - but its free) from eSchool News Project-based learning engages students, garners results This is a 9 page paper and it is excellent. Use what you have learnt here to make a WebQuest around your driving question!
If you need help in making a WebQuest, go to SWAT http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/swat and register - it's free. This is simple to use Web 2.0 tool to create a WebQuest. We will provide you with mentoring help as well.

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In the Classroom | Research & Case Studies | What is a WebQuest?

Effectiveness of cooperative learning: WebQuest as a tool to produce

by frances 9. March 2009 13:07

Effectiveness of cooperative learning: WebQuest as a tool to produce scientific videos by S. Lara and Ch. Repáraz, School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Department of Education University of Navarra 31080, Pamplona SPAIN

These authors examine the use of the WebQuest with students in Year 10 studying Geography in Spain. Although published in 2005, this paper is going to be presented at the International Conference on Multimedia and ICT in Education, 22- 24 April 2009, Lisbon, Portugal.  

The WebQuest can be found here - in Spanish.


The Authors Conclusion:

"The results show that the use of a WebQuest helps and guides group members in their investigation work and in the production of their videos. It motivates group members to learn in a different manner, and in collaboration with others. It helps them to divide the load of the task among the members of the group. It helps them to seek solutions, share their information and to take into account the information of others. It contributes towards each group member working at his task. Everyone learns things of real value. In short, this way of working is positively valued, as opposed to individual classroom work. A WebQuest definitively secures the development of competences related with scientific investigation such as: the capacity of information analysis, synthesis and evaluation, of initiative and the taking of decisions, the capacity of observation and of adjustment to specific facts, evidence, and data, of simplifying what is complex without losing the global vision, of the development of critical thinking, of planifimcation and organization, of the performance and the evaluation of what has been planned. These are all competences which help students to assimilate knowledge, to integrate them, relate them with others, and thus attain more solid learning." (Source: Conclusion, Paper)

It is worth noting that this paper cited a few other (older) research papers on the effects of WebQuests. Unfortunately, the authors are using the old version of the definition of Dodge and March, and, the WebQuest itself is in Spanish so we have get to review it.

Anyone out there that is a teacher and speaks Spanish, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@webquestdirect.com.au

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Article Review | In the Classroom | Research & Case Studies

An Introduction to Using WebQuests in your Classroom (2001)

by frances 6. February 2009 11:19

This website by Juliet Szyprowski, at Montgomery College, goes through the following ideas [using slides - so great for any Professional Development (PD)]

a. An Introduction to Using WebQuests in your Classroom

b. What is a WebQuest?

c. WebQuests are focused activities in which students utilize Web-based resources to perform an interesting task.

d. In a WebQuest...

e. What are the benefits of WebQuests?

f. The 6 Components of a WebQuest

i. Introduction

ii. The Task

iii. The Process

iv. Resources

v. Evaluation

vi. Conclusion

g. Example WebQuests:

i. Who will you vote for?

ii. On the Cutting Edge

iii. Tuskegee Tragedy

What do you think?

The WebQuest Page

Comment: These slides give an excellent overview of "What is a WebQuest?" and would be a good way to introduce the topic of WebQuests at a staff meeting as these slides are simple and direct.

I would suggest that you have an interactive activity after these slides of other WebQuests teachers could to go to (particularly ones that would suit their curriculum needs), discuss/debate, and, see what needed to be changed to be used in their classroom. Don't forget to tell them about how they can use SWAT (IT'S FREE) to adapt a WebQuest to their classroom [always acknowledging the original author].

The examples given provide you with some ideas about the style, design, and content, however, they are not the best WebQuests (although the Tuskegee Tragedy is excellent and built by Tom March, the Co-Creator of the concept of WebQuests). To give you an idea of the quality, here is WebQuest Direct's Review of "On the Cutting Edge":  


1. On the Cutting Edge  Bronze award       

Key Learning Areas: Professional Development; Technology & Design
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Using technology; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Design; Research
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School; Teacher; Community; Business Training
Country: U.S.A. U.S.A.
Language: English
 Author: David Young

Designed for participants undertaking training with T-spider.net but also suitable for students in Years 10 - 12 studying Technology, Computer Studies or Graphic Design students. Students are to investigate for the critical characteristics and examples of a perfect website. This would be a good activity to use when planning for or designing a school website (or designing a website) or teaching students to critically analyse websites. Students have to produce a "design grid," after investigating websites from the perspective of: an Information Architect, Graphics Designer, Programmer, and Content Manager. They are to come to an agreement (concensus) about their grid. Resources: adequate although many more could be provided especially new Web 2.0 tools. Evaluation: No evaluation rubric is given. Conclusion is a wrap up along with asking participants to complete an online survey; and, write a brief reflection paper describing what they learnt about web site design and about the concept of WebQuest itself. No Teacher's Guide, Curriculum Standards, Duration or Implementation Advice is provided. Design and Layout: basic. Last updated 2006.
Also at: http://ouray.cudenver.edu/~dl0young/cutting_edge/files/index.html


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


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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
Gold Force
Community Shopping Centre Planner
Can you get the party started?
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The Petrov Affair
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