Creating a Webquest
What is a webquest? At its heart, it’s a quest. The entire sequence leads to a high-level task. Kids access relevant materials on the Internet. (Yep, it’s paperless.)
1. Begin Webquest Design with the Desired Outcome
As you know, great lesson plans begin with the end in mind. First, consider the outcome. In this Cinderella webquest, for example, I wanted my kids to write a parody.
2. Break the Webquest into a Manageable Number of Tasks
In webquests, the lessons building up to the outcome are called tasks. When you use Google Sites, create a main page for each task.
New information and skills build slowly. Therefore, tasks can be complex. You can use subpages to break those tasks into bite-sized pieces.
To set my students up for success, I broke this writing activity into six tasks. Instruction is laid out and linked in the Google Site. Therefore, kids work autonomously.
- Story Elements – First, my students learn about elements common to all stories.
- The Story Arc – Next, they summarize elements of a Cinderella story from a different culture on a story arc.
- Common Elements – Now they’re ready for a third Cinderella fairy tale. They list elements of all three stories and construct* their own list of common Cinderella elements.
- Parody – At this point, they read a Cinderella parody. They learn the difference between a fairy tale and a parody.
- Figurative Language – Since I want my kids to use personification and onomatopoeia in their parodies, I teach it here.
- The Writing Process – This long task asks kids to plan, draft, edit, and publish.
*Note: Constructivism, which really makes kids think, is the cornerstone of webquest design. Sure, some tasks will require only lower-level thinking. However, you should also encourage kids to synthesize information and create new products.
3. Add Links
Creating a Google Site pushes learning online. Now it’s time to add some links. For example, in Task 1, my students explore this Cinderella-themed interactive from Anenberg Learning to learn about story elements.
4. Add Instructional Content
On the page above , you can also see a link to a story. When you create a webquest, post pertinent instructional materials on the Google Site.
- Save the material as images.
- Create one or more subpages for the task.
- Insert each page of the material as a separate image. (Hint: If you are adding more than one image on a webpage, duplicate the page block and replace the image. That way, you won’t have to resize each image.)
- Add a link to the subpage in the text of your task.
FYI, I post all materials – except pages that require student responses – on the Site.
5. Spell Out Expectations for the Product
When you add directions and exemplars, kids work independently. Think of your webquest as a well-oiled machine. Yes, it takes time to build something like this. However, as students work autonomously, your life gets easier. Plus, you’ll be able to use it year after year.
Here, for example, when kids click the link, they can read directions and examples. That sets them up for success – and limits questions.
Keeping It Paperless
This Cinderella webquest includes student response sheets. To keep it paperless, I can share them as forced Google Slides or Easel Activities.
Ready to get started? All you need is a good idea. Break the task into small pieces. Gather materials. Add a few links. Once you learn to make a Google Site, it’s easy!
Websites let teachers direct learning from the sidelines. You can supplement a unit, organize research, encourage collaboration, direct homework, or flip your classroom. Additionally, you can design independent learning modules, PBLs, novel studies, and eBooks.
Take a look at 20 ways that Google Sites can revolutionize your teaching. Then get started today!