Chapter 4 - Guided Inquiry Activities
Many students simply do not have the information-literacy skills needed to navigate the Web effectively in an open- ended research activity. Teachers often need to direct students to great material and set some boundaries around their exploration of well-chosen sites. In this section, we will discuss three ways in which you can expose students to the web while helping to keep them on task.
Field trips are excellent ways to immerse students in physical evidence by visiting museums, historical sites, author residences, or government buildings. Fortunately, if you cannot visit an important site in person, you can often visit the site virtually on the Web. While some online virtual tours consist of static two-dimensional images and text, others contain engaging three-dimensional animations and simulations, panoramic video, and more..
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - start with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History, a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world.
BBC Virtual Tours - walk around a historical building or structure take a 3D tour of a famous site in British History. You can embark on a Viking Quest, see how an Iron Age roundhouse was built, or take a virtual tour of a World War One trench.
Oriental Institute Museum - a showcase of the history, art and archaeology of the ancient Near East. The Museum exhibits major collections of antiquities from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, Syria, Palestine, and Anatolia. The Oriental Institute Virtual Museum makes use of a series of Apple QuickTime VR panoramic movies to take you on an tour of each of the Museum's galleries, accompanied by descriptions of each alcove and their artifacts. Where appropriate, links to related materials, such as the Museum's Highlights From The Collections, the Photographic Archives, and relevant Oriental Institute Archaeology and Philology projects elaborate on the most significant objects in greater detail.
TechTrekers Virtual Field Trips - excellent for incorporating multiculturalism into the classroom. Through this site teachers can encourage their students to travel virtually to many countries. This site consists primarily of links to numerous virtual field trips as well as teaching projects, strategies and resources used by teachers around the world.
One gentle way to guide students toward important information on a Web site is to design a treasure hunt, a type of scavenger hunt, for the site. An online scavenger hunt can be used to introduce students to excellent Web sites while also introducing them to useful information about a curriculum topic. An online scavenger hunt can be an individual or group activity and can be timed or untimed. It typically takes the form of a list of questions that can be answered at a single site or several related Web sites, perhaps with some navigation hints for trickier questions. A scavenger hunt can be the first step in a scaffolded assignment. For instance, students might hunt through introductory sites on ancient Greece as a first step in the process of evaluating ancient Greek democracy.
As you peruse these activities for scavenger hunts, keep in mind that ultimately we want to use the Internet to develop students’ critical-thinking skills instead of simply as a means of acquiring facts about a topic. Balacing time spent consuming information with time spent building and presenting understanding.
- Beacon Hill Photo Scavenger Hunt - this PDF document includes an example of a photo scavenger hunt that Justin used for his History of Boston course. Students learned about Boston's architectural history, and then toured Beacon Hill with digital cameras trying to photograph common design elements. When they were finished, they uploaded thumbnails of their photos into the document.
- Eyes on the Prize Scavenger Hunt - this file accompanies a scavenger hunt to help students navigate a series of primary sources at the PBS Eyes on the Prize Web site.
- Met Museum Scavenger Hunt - another Word document, it asks students to find images from the Met web site in different categories. Can you find a pharoah killing a duck?
- Ancient Mesopotamia Scavenger Hunt - in this document, you will find a scavenger hunt for two web sites, from the British Museum, related to the ancient world.
WebQuests provide thoughtful scaffolding for educators just starting to tech with technology. WebQuests organize online lessons and homework for students and the best of them guide students through carefully constructured student-centered projects. This page includes several video tutorials for searching for, modifying, and creating your own WebQuests using the QuestGarden WebQuest creation tool at QuestGarden.com. Dig in!
Searching for WebQuests
First a brief bit of errata. At the time of writing Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology, WebQuests.org had a 5-star ranking system for the WebQuests on it's search engine. That has been removed, but you can still search through thousands of WebQuests there, so check it out.
(Note: Click on the box on the bottom right for a full screen view)
WebQuests vary in quality. Many on the Web are made by pre-service teachers, many of the older ones have broken links, and many have resources that are not well-chosen or age-appropriate. And some are just brilliant. In the ideal world, you as the teacher should actually try to complete the exercise before you assign it to make sure that the instructions make sense, the sites are well-chosen, and the activity is doable in the time frame allotted.
You might also review Tom March's list of recommended WebQuests at http://bestwebquests.com/. March, a former colleague of WebQuest Creator Bernie Dodge, recommends WebQuests across grade levels and subject areas.
Modifying WebQuests for your Classroom
Many WebQuests are free to share and edit, so don't hesitate to modify a WebQuest to better meet your teaching goals. A broken link should not deter you from adopting a useful WebQuest. You can subsitute a link of your own, or simply discard it, as the following video demonstrates.
(Note: Click on the box on the bottom right for a full screen view)
Getting Started Creating WebQuests with QuestGarden
You can start creating WebQuests by registering for a free 30-day trial at QuestGarden. Once registered, you’ll have access to an improved search engine, a listing of the most recent WebQuests, and a cool feature that lets you see where people from around the world are logged into QuestGarden. The most important feature is that you can create your own WebQuest and publish it online without needing to know any programming or HTML skills.
We have some additional links to great WebQuests for history and social studies teachers on our Teaching History with Technology WebQuest page