Sunday, June 27, 2010

Journal #4

I had never used a webquest before. This is such an interesting way of thinking about teaching; students can have information given to them as well as add to it all on one website. I really liked how diverse the webquests were that I was seeing, as well as how much freedom you are given as an educator to assign a task. The only component of the webquest that I have been seeing that I didn’t like as much was evaluation aspect of it. From what I could tell, the majority of webquests relied on rubrics as their evaluation, and that is a practice I do not like to adhere to in teaching. I find rubrics limit creativity and often students try to only impress the teachers by sticking to what is exactly on them, and not going any further.
I looked specifically at webquests involving the two novels that I teach within my 8th grade curriculum; Night and The Giver. I am so impressed by assignments that teachers have put together. With Night, many teachers have helped students go through and work on the sensitive subjects and materials that are presented within that book. I think this webquest idea works great with books and subjects that are so upsetting to students; these assignments allow students to work through their own thoughts at their own pace. In terms of The Giver, I really enjoyed seeing how many teachers did a compare and contrasts with other supposed Utopian societies. The Utopian Unit is one I spend a large amount of time on, and seeing other teachers’ creative view points on connecting many pieces of literature inspired me to do the same. I teach The Giver, and then supplement it with John Lennon’s Imagine, as well as the short stories The Lottery and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. Along with a thesis essay, I believe creating this webquest will be an excellent end of the unit activity, which can then lead into some great class discussion.
I have used the delicious website before, and think this is a great way to help with student research. It allows for us as educators to weed out any of the “bad” on the internet – i.e., inappropriate sites – and it also ensures that we can make sure our students are only viewing quality information. Bookmarking sites are great as they still allow students to practice doing research and give them autonomy on what information they decide to use, yet they still allow for ‘safe’ and focused research that the general web does not.


  1. Michelle,

    First I want to say that I love both The Lottery and Le Guin's text, so I'd be really interested to see what you develop for a WQ or Final Project with those texts.

    I feel really torn about the idea of evaluation, and to be honest, when I saw there was a rubric already in the template, I started looking at just the rubrics of a bunch of sample ones and no one had modified the rubric to be more specific to their lessons. And I didn't either when I created mine. I don't like rubrics, but I also know that as a student I don't like not knowing what is going to count, or what's expected of me. I do agree, though, that it stifles creativity. Sometimes the anxiety of not knowing exactly how much to do makes you want to do more than you might have originally produced if you felt you had already met all of the required criteria.

    The bookmarking sites are great! I have always used Citation Machine, and I know a lot of my students use EasyBib. I thought the Diigo site was really useful too. I tell my students that it's not important that they memorize how to cite properly (because they can always look up and follow the formulas for in text and works cited pages) but that it is crucial they remember to cite PERIOD. We focus more on the paraphrasing and direct quoting aspects than on the actual form of the documentation, so those sites help in the final stages of editing.

  2. Ahh Michelle, I just posted a long response to you but then it somehow got deleted!

    Anyway, the shorter version is that I too am really excited about the WebQuest and see the benefits that they could have in my classroom. I teach "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" to my seniors in an Adolescent Literature elective and I was thinking about having them reread The Giver and doing a lesson with the two. Whether it's 8th grade or 12th grade I think some of the same salient issues exist that all ages can appreciate. I'd be interested to see what you do as a WQ for your Utopia unit. One of the reasons that I like the WQ so much is that I can adjust the lesson and require more work of the seniors, making a small book that middle school students read also relevant and thought-provoking for 18 year olds.

  3. Michelle, I'm glad you spent some time looking at other WebQuests related to novels you teach, to get a sense of how they would work and what you might do to improve them. The one you posted on "The Giver" offers some good ideas but it could be polished and adapted (something Lauren did, working with a WQ she found to create her own version of it).