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3 Thanksgiving webquest

Teodóra Király

Download the video here

Because of the nature of webquests, instead of a lesson plan, you can only find general information about this lesson here. See the comments below for further explanation.

Level: Intermediate

Grade: 10

Length: 90 min

By the end of the lesson students will have:

  • learnt about the historical background of Thanksgiving
  • practised scanning and skimming techniques in reading, and in reading a hypertext (a webpage)
  • gained enough stimuli about the era so they can use their knowledge, creativity and imagination to produce a board game designed to test others’ knowledge about the first Thanksgiving.

Notes

General introduction

A webquest class is quite unorthodox in that there is basically no teaching, only learning taking place in the classroom. The teacher’s role in class is truly secondary if not altogether unnecessary. A good webquest is highly motivating in itself and the way it is set up is self-contained. Ideally, students could just open the start page and work themselves through the quest without relying on any further help from the teacher.

A webquest, as you can guess from its name, is the act of looking for something on the Internet. However, it is much more than that. A good educational webquest requires students to creatively use the newly acquired information to create an end-product, either individually or, more usually, in groups. It should also have a webpage as its frame, one that is designed solely around this project. This starting point should contain all the instructions, the links, descriptions of the task and the desired end-product. If possible, the webquest should contain some twists or some challenge. The more it resembles a treasure hunt, the better.

The activity step by step
  1. Teacher introduces the topic of Thanksgiving.
  2. Students read the introductory page to the quest.
  3. They sit in groups of 8 and decide which two of them will research which of the four topics.
  4. They do their research, reading, collecting data.
  5. They produce questions/tasks with answers.
  6. They submit these to the teacher for approval.
  7. Students within the group of 8 get together and everybody shares their questions AND answers.
  8. The whole team designs and produces the board, the players, the game cards and the rules of the game.
  9. The two teams play both board games, one after the other, competing against each other.
  10. Students get evaluated.
General advice

The best way to start learning about webquests is by looking at some inspiring examples you can find on the Internet. If you have not yet searched for it, you will be surprised by the number of websites dedicated solely to webquests. Some of these offer definitions and examples of good webquests, like:

http://webquest.org

http://webquest.sdsu.edu

http://www.filamentality.com

A few words about the evaluation as it is something that might slip unnoticed in such a big project: work out a system for evaluating the end product of the project, or even the process itself and discuss it with students at the beginning. The more detailed the system is, the more likely students are to be motivated and do a good job. For example, rather than saying that the board for the board game should be great, it is better to state that students can get 2 points for its looks, 2 points for great game ideas and tricks or traps built into the board and 2 points for durability.

The webquest format I used has Roles 1, 2, 3 and 4 set out that I just used as places where the links for the four subtopics are placed. Using different roles would be more suitable for social studies or literature classes. See the links above for more information on this.

Technical tips

It would be too lengthy to try and tell you all about how to actually build your own webquest and make it available online. I do want to emphasize one thing though: no experience and no special equipment is needed, except for an Internet browser and a bit of creativity. To start with, just go to a website that helps you set up your webquest by providing a frame. Maybe your first webquests will not look very fancy, but they can still be highly inspiring for the students content-wise. I deliberately chose the following site to build my webquest – as you see, its looks are not very glamorous, but once I had the quest planned in my mind, it only took me about three hours to build the site itself, it is so simple: http://teacherweb.com/.

This is where you can find the Thanksgiving webquest you saw in the video: http://teacherweb.com/WQ/HighSchool/Thanksgiving1/h1.stm.

Preparation for class

Once you have designed the quest and built its site, there is one final thing left for you to decide: timing. With these tenth-graders, I allocated 90 minutes for getting started and doing the research in pairs; 90 minutes for creating the game questions with answers and sharing them within the group; 90 minutes for designing and creating the board game together with the rules, the figures and the game cards; and 90 minutes for playing both games in class. This can be made considerably shorter if some of these things are assigned as homework.

Variations

In this webquest, students research a subtopic with another person. Provided there are enough computers, you may suggest these two people further divide their task or topic by deciding who is looking at which sites and/or agreeing to split the number of questions they have to produce.

Instead of spending class time explaining the task, you could just start your lesson by directing students immediately to the webquest’s site and deal with their questions as they come up, one by one. This could save a lot of time. Ideally, the webquest’s page is designed in a way that all the necessary information is there.