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    A WebQuest about WebQuests: Student Results ST 2008 © Tobias Unger `08 (t.unger@staff.uni-marburg.de)

    Group 1: Specific aspects of a WebQuest that are analyzed: TOPIC/INTRODUCTION/CONCLUSION

    a) A Method to the Madness! Topic: Irony & Comedy (Styles) - A Historical Development

    Summary: The web quest “Method to the madness” is an excellent example of a motivating and reasonable activity for students to explore the web. It connects an everyday activity (watching comedies on television) to the more sophisticated task of analyzing Shakespeare. Already the title and the title are excellent hooks and really catch the students’ attention, the “Friends”( although the show is kind of outdated for today’s students, maybe “The Simpsons would provide a better alternative) image in combination with the title evoke curiosity of what this quest is about. The quest also motivates students on a long term basis by employing a variety of methods outside the internet and they are arranged in a way that their level of difficulty is raised from one step/task to the next. There is also an evaluation sheet that provides information for students with the criteria by which they will be graded.

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    b) Persuasive Techniques Topic: Discover Persuasive Techniques – Example: U.S. Presidential Election 2008

    Summary: Although the intentions of the WQ-author may have been to introduce students to a new an more exciting topic for persuasive essays, I do not think the goal to be accomplished. The WQ starts off with a joke about the freedom of speech, leading up to the topic of the US elections. There are several issues within this WQ, not only refering to connection between content and product (how should the students what parts a persuasive essay needs, if they only read them, but never discuss their structure but only their content), or contradictions (”…what others around the globe think about Election 2008…”, leading up to 12 links from the US and only for from the rest of the world), but there are also severe problems regarding motivation. The students are first asked to check the sites of the major candidates in the US election - but not only are these pages too big and sometimes too complicated, the general goal of this task is to become an expert one. Therefore, not only will the motivation of the students be low as they see the texts, they may also be demotivated by the non-defined task. One thing which may motivate them is the aspect of the expert jigsaw, as they may read the sources thoroughly in order to teach their fellow students. Another contra of this WQ is the number of links given, especially in part 3, where the students are given a long lists of links in order to investigate the term media-bias. This long list, which also oftenly consists of rather complicated texts may again demotivate the students again. In the end, the students are asked to write a persuasive essay to the editor of the high school newspaper answering the question: which candidate would have the most positive impact on our country and should, therefore, become president? The problem with this task was already mentioned.

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    c) Who Thought Of That? Topic: Research Facts on Different Mathematicians

    Summary: The WebQuest deals with the lives of famous mathematicians and tries to inspire the students by a special scavenger hunt on mathematicians. On the one hand to my mind this is an interesting topic because mathematics are often rather boring and only focused on numbers and formulars. However this WebQuest gives the pupils the chance to go back in history, investigating the lives of famous mathematicians. The introductory questions catch the pupils attention because they are directly adressed and ask themselves what they already know about the topic. On the other hand the scavenger hunt is obviously much too long and the students won’t be motivated anymore if they see 46 questions. Moreover I don’t understand why the students should finally decide whether they would like to be a female or a male mathematician…To my mind it’s not important which gender the mathematicians had, but what they achieved in their lives.

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    d) Poetry of War Topic: Poetry: Express War Experiences

    Summary: In this WebQuest the students treat the topic of the poetry of war meaning that they are asked to understand the mental feeling or situation of what war was like. Their task is to compare a veteran’s emotions of the situation with th poet’s creation of visual imagery. In the “Process” the teacher gives instructions for the assignments the students have to submit. By visualizing each stanza via drawings they are thus encouraged to work creatively. On the basis of the given poems the students now have to write their own poem.

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    e) Plants WebQuest Topic: Growing Plants - What to do, What to consider!

    Summary: The provided webquest is mainly constituted for pupils of the 5th or 6th grade. They are asked to imagine a situation in which the Martians are dependent on an instruction to grow plants on Mars because their atmosphere is changing. The pupil’s task is to compile a journal that explains which plants the aliens should grow, why they should grow it, how a plant is made up, how they pollinate, how soil is composed, how photosynthesis goes on and how a garden looks like. So basically it is about botany (a topic pupils deal with in biology). The students are told to work in teams of four and compile their journal within 4(!) days. Special attention is paid on accurateness, handwriting and order the students apply in their journal. As resources they are ordered to use books, articles and provided websites.

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    A final model-list about motivating factors in WebQuests (Group 1):

    Best to Worst (VERY subjective – but a general tendency):

    1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

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    Group 2:

    Specific aspects of a WebQuest that are analyzed: TASK/PRESENTATION

    f) The New Shadow Topic: Fantasy Quest based on J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

    Summary: The web quest „The new shadow“ is based on Tolkien’s „Lord of the rings“. This web quest is unbelievable complex. The students will be able to tell their own story about what would occur in the realm of Middle Earth. They have also work on fantasy genre and will have a better few of it. Pupils have to pass seven steps until they fulfil the web quest. First pupils have to become an identity of one character from Tolkien’s Story. In the next step they have to write a kind of characterization of their chosen character. The third task is about a “quest” They have to determine a quest, which are given. The quests imply quiet a lot of work. The following task is about the fantasy genre. Pupils have to be experts of it. During the seven steps, pupils have to work on different task, so they will have their own story at the end. This story has to present in class by everyone. The web quest mentions that pupils need 4 weeks to complete the web quest.

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    g) ESOL Learners Topic: Reading a Newspaper Article Effectively

    Summary: The web quest deals with the topic how to read a news paper article effectively. It is based on the work you do on your own. It is directed to learners of the English language. First of all the students get to know what an article is and of what it consist for example and various other things as well. The students are also getting linked to a homepage where they can listen to the articles. The next step the author introduces is a program, where you can look for difficult words directly in the article and their translation or explanation. The author of this webquest tries to introduce different strategies to you, how to read an article, and how to memorize the things, but he doesn’t tell you what else you can do with it. A negative aspect for me is, although I don’t know how this problem could be solved, is, that you get no feedback at all… Furthermore there are no communicative parts in it. Everything you do is to work on your own, and read all the articles.

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    h) Awesome Comics Topic: Save a Comic Label by Creating a new Comic

    Summary: The WebQuest “Awesome Comics” is an in-class project for students whose first language is English and it lasts twelve hours of classroom time. The students start the project by finding information on a comic hero by researching the internet. In the second step the students work in groups and invent their own action hero. In the third step they create a whole story around their comic hero and draw an own comic, which is evaluated and finally published.

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    i) The Last Spin Topic: Teenage street Gangs and how They Solve Problems

    Summary: The Web Quest deals with the topic of teenage street gangs. The Web Quest is based on a short story called “The Last Spin” the students already had to read. In the introduction the main topic of the Web Quest is described and upcoming questions regarding the street gang problems are provided. The following task is it to split up in groups of four and to make sure that each group member concentrates on another aspect of the story. The idea for the Web Quest activity is it to imagine that all students are reporters for a national teen magazine. The editor and in this case the teacher asked them to find out why a teenager called Danny committed suicide. After each reporter collected the information, the team wi