Teaching with WebQuests

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web3How can teachers encourage critical and analytic thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and integrate technology into the curriculum? It might seem challenging, but a WebQuest provides students the opportunity to explore a topic while honing these critical skills. And, it’s fun!

Webquest is an effective way to incorporate inquiry learning through technology into the classroom.  In fact Bernie Dodge, creator of the WebQuest, states that it is "an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet." Students develop skills in thinking critically about a topic while also developing and deepening their understanding. In a Webquest, the student is introduced to a “Web adventure” involving a single or several topics. The student then must complete tasks related to the topic by visiting several Web sites. At the end, the student reflects on what they have learned and has opportunities to apply that new learning. An evaluation tool is built into the WebQuest so that teachers can measure student progress.

While there are many WebQuests that can supplement the curriculum, teachers can create their own WebQuests to match their classroom instruction. Imagine creating a WebQuest for the book the class is reading. Imagine creating one to investigate a particular topic within your state or region. In this article, you will explore how to create a WebQuest.

Getting Startedweb1

A WebQuest has several specific components. Before you think about how to design one on your computer, consider what you will need for your plan:

  1. Introduction: This tells your students what they will explore in the WebQuest. This should be written so that students are interested and motivated for their adventure on the web.
  2. Task: This describes the end product or what the student will complete to show that they have successfully completed the WebQuest. For example, in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory WebQuest students complete three tasks including learning about the history and origin of chocolate.
  3. Process: This explains the strategies students should use to complete the task. In The President's Scrapbook WebQuest, students learn that the President has a scrapbook of heroes. By clicking on the photos of the heroes, students are taken to a Web site with information (text written at the appropriate grade level) on that hero.
  4. Resources: These are the Web sites students will use to complete the task. (You will find helpful hints on selecting Web sites at the end of this article.)
  5. Evaluation: This section measures the results of the activity. In The President’s Scrapbook WebQuest, students will complete a rubric to assess their completion of the task. Some WebQuests feature quizzes created by the teacher.
  6. Conclusion: This area sums up the activity and let’s students know what they should have completed and learned. Students are often encouraged to share their WebQuests and to explore on their own further.web2

After reviewing the information about the components of a WebQuest, think about what you are studying in class. You might want to create one for a new topic, one that students are struggling with, or to expand and extend the classroom experience.

For more information, the American Library Association’s article “Thinking Outside the Book: Engaging Students with WebQuests” provides a brief history and overview for teachers.

Templates and More

Creating a WebQuest has become easier for teachers because there are many easy-to-use templates with instructions available on the Internet. Bernie Dodge’s Web site contains guidance and links for the novice designer to those who have more experience. Click the classic framed templates from SDSU (2000) for several WebQuest Templates in PC and MAC form. You will need to download the file to begin your design.

The Canadian Web site Educational Technology has several modern design WebQuests to choose from. In addition to these free sites, Dodge has created Quest Garden for teachers to create and post WebQuests which can then be shared. Try it out free for 30 days, and if you like it, the fee is $20 for a two-year subscription. How to Make a WebQuest is a teacher-made, how-to video on WebQuests. While informally filmed in the teacher’s living room, she shares why Webquests are beneficial and shares her own helpful hints.

Example WebQuests and Getting Started Tip

web4The San Diego City Schools has several WebQuests you might want to preview. Take a look at Study Insects with Eric Carle for grades 1-2 or view Kid's Court: Finding Justice in Fairy Tales for an interesting activity on characterization. Grammar Rocks! is an excellent WebQuest to review the parts of speech on the Zunal WebQuest maker site. Kathi Mitchell has assembled a list of WebQuests by content area. If you click “That’s Plymouth Rock” you will find a one page WebQuest. You might want to try this format until you feel more comfortable with adding pages for each section.

If you are ready to get started, you might wonder about the Web sites you might use. Let Learners Online help you! Look back at earlier issues (or even this one) for inspiration. Since a WebQuest involves reading and language arts skills, you can choose any topic you like. For example, Alan Sills article “Earth’s Shaking” in the January, 2012 issue might spark an exciting quest to learn more about the earth’s rocks.

Stephanie Hamilton

RF.4.4. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Informational Text » Grade 3
RI.3.5. Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.
W.3.2. Write informative and explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

§110.14. English Language Arts and Reading, Grade 3
(3) Reading/Fluency. Students read grade-level text with fluency and comprehension.
(17) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory WebQuest

The President's Scrapbook WebQuest

Thinking Outside the Book: Engaging Students with WebQuests

Bernie Dodge: Creator of the WebQuest

WebQuest Templates

More WebQuest Templates

Video:  How to Make a WebQuest

San Diego City Schools WebQuests for Students

Zunal WebQuest Maker

WebQuests by Content Area

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