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What Are Webquests?
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What Are Webquests?

Webquests have a fancy name that is catchy but beneath the name there is something simple that we can all understand. Simply put, Webquests are a really good lesson plan or curriculum unit that utilizes resources from the Internet. That's really  exciting because developing creative lessons are what us teachers are really great at.   O.K. , Webquests are just a little more complicated than a lesson plan or unit plan. Webquests strive to get kids thinking at a higher level by asking students an essential question, providing opportunities for kids to explore further, and then getting kids to apply their knowledge with a hands-on activity.   I will explain further by discussing each part of a Webquest and then providing an example of that part.

Esssential Question:

At the heart of every webquest is an open-ended question. The question creates a clear purpose for the webquest, inspires students to access prior knowledge, and creates a level of excitement that motivates students to explore further.

Stay on Task:

Can students in elementary and middle school think at a higher level where they not only research but apply their new knowledge?   The Task Section of a Webquest provides a "scaffolding" to lead students through the kind of thinking process that more expert learners use.  "Scaffolding"  means breaking the daunting project into smaller pieces so students can work on specific sub-tasks that will lead them through the difficult steps of researching and then applying their knowledge.

Great Resources:

In a Webquest the teacher creates links to other Internet sites. I usually create a Hot List to share these resources. These Online Resources come in varying forms (web sites, online journals, virtual tours, message boards, and e-mail.) These sites  provide quality, current information. Excitement is created with stimulating graphics and interactive features. By utilizing a variety of  Internet resources a webquest provides information for all students- no matter their learning level or learning style.  Also,    webquests provide easy access to Offline Resources such as Children's literature, CD-ROM's,  magazines, field trips, guest speakers... I usually use a bibliography to provide offline resources.

Note:  Webquest Resources provide easy access to quality information. This allows students to no longer focus on gathering information. Now, students can spend more time interpreting and analyzing the information.


Hands-On Activity:

The focus of a webquest is to get students to apply their knowledge to constructively solve authentic problems. The culminating activity of a Webquest provides the guidelines for this higher level thinking. The culminating activity can range from creating a Hollywood Presentation, e-mailing an expert in the field, hands-on (offline) activity,  to students creating their own web page.

Authentic Assessment:

When using a webquest, students are asked think at a higher level. It is important teachers effectively evaluate student's hard work. Many Webquests provide rubrics to clearly define how a student’s work will be assessed.  Rubrics also provide an opportunity for students and teachers to reflect on their learning.

Here are some great sites to get further information about webquests:

Building Blocks of a Webquest   Bernie Dodge outlines an easy way to understand the components of a Webquest: Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, Conclusion.

Why Webquests? An Introduction    This introduction by Tom March was written for a series of Webquests to be developed by Teacher Created Materials.  If you are new to Quests, this is an excellent place to start.

The Student Webquest   Maureen Yoder details the history and development of Webquests and how to make the best use of them.

Kathy Shrock's Webquest Page   Kathy Shrock has developed a 16-slide PowerPoint presentation based on the information found at Mr. Dodge's site. (Also available as a PDF file.) For clarification and further explanation of a webquest.

Next assignment for the Web: To Become a Teaching Device  A model called Webquests asks students to solve real problems and answer questions that they will face.

Thoughts about Webquests   Dr. Bernie Dodge and Tom March present a comprehensive look at what a Webquest is and how to plan one.



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