James Cook University and WebQuests

by frances 10. August 2009 18:03

On Friday, I gave a lecture to 3rd and 4th Year Student Teachers at James Cook University Cairns studying under Professor Neil Anderson.

It was a wonderful experience with enthusiastic students all ready to make a substantial WebQuest as part of their assignments in their course. It will be great to mentor them and have another lot of Australian WebQuests for other teachers to use.

 

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News & Events

Lapping Up WebQuests

by frances 28. July 2009 18:04

Yesterday I conducted two workshops on WebQuests: Problem-Based Learning (PBL) at Merimbula on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of dedicated teachers from K - 12 (from 11 different schools) interested in using and creating WebQuests. After using our Library of rated WebQuests, these teachers were able to see how they could adapt other WebQuests to suit their own classrooms using SWAT (http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/swat ) which is a free Web 2.0 Tool to create or adapt a WebQuest.

We look forward to seeing the WebQuests created or adapted! Special thanks to Jenne Gardner and Paul Morris for asking me (Frances Moore) to conduct these workshops!

 

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General

Climate Change +WebQuests

by frances 23. July 2009 12:10

Safe Climate Australia has been recently launched. This organisation is a non-profit organisation with numerous scientists and others involved in renewable energy being the founding members. This type of organisation would be a good one to introduce students to especially in the Conclusion of a WebQuest where Real World Feedback is sometimes required. Getting students to contact real scientists with their own views, solutions or ideas helps students to recognise that their own work is important!

 

 

WebQuest Direct has over 75 WebQuests on Global Warming and Climate Change.

Here is a 5 Star (the best) WebQuest about Global Warming!

Global Warming: Can you feel the heat?  Gold award     

Rating:
Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Science
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Planning and organising activities; Solving problems; Using technology; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Creative Product; Journalistic; Persuasion; Research; Science
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English
 Author: Kerrie Malcolm (2008)

Designed for students in Year 9 studying Science particularly Earth Science and Global Warming. It could also be used in Social Sciences particularly Geography. Students are given the following scenario: "Global warming is currently a hot topic (no pun intended!) and producers of BTN [Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Behind The News, TV show for students] are dedicating five episodes, each 5-10 minutes long, to global warming." Students, in groups, are to select one episode to create and submit to BTN their 3 minute video. They are asked that each episode give viewers an understanding of the effects, causes and solutions to Global Warming. Working as a news crew, each team is to research, write, produce, interview, role play, direct and video tape either: "Episode 1, How are weather patterns changing as a result of global warming? Interview a television weather person, or a weather person from your local Bureau of Meteorology about effects such as rising temperatures, El Nino, and the increased intensity of storms and cyclones; or, Episode 2, Sea levels are gradually rising due to global warming, but that is not the only effect being observed in our oceans. Interview an officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and ask them about coral bleaching, and the acidification of the oceans. This segment could also demonstrate what might happen to the food chains of the ocean with further acidification; or, Episode 3, Investigate the causes of global warming, both natural and human activities. Talk to a scientist about how the carbon cycle is becoming unbalanced; or, Episode 4, The Australian Government intends to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme. Discuss the scheme and its implications for industry and the economy with your local member of the federal parliament; or, Episode 5, Alternative energy can be produced from renewable and non-renewable resources. Contact a company that installs solar or wind energy equipment. Interview someone from the company and ask them to explain how alternative energy sources produce electricity and about the advantages and disadvantages of using their product." There are four roles: Presenter, Director, Camera Person, and, Guest Interview Person. After completing their video, students are to submit their best 3 minutes to BTN which now has a segment on their website that encourages the submission of a 3 minute video which will either be televised or put on the BTN website. Resources comprehensive. Evaluation rubrics for self evaluation, peer assessment and, teacher assessment are provided. Conclusion contains a challenge to submit their videos to other competitions and provides ideas for other projects that students could be involved in. Teacher's Guide is comprehensive and contains Curriculum Standards for Science and English; Duration: 8 lessons; and, a Lesson Plan implementation as well as addition resources and ideas. Design and Layout: Tips to improve this WebQuest: giving the students some more scaffolding within the process for editing the video; suggest that the students to put their videos onto YouTube as well as sending it to BTN; and, maybe use Movie Maker - a Video editing software that is free and very easy to use. Last updated 2008.

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests | In the Classroom

Every Queensland state school to teach indigenous culture

by frances 16. July 2009 19:41

 

As reported in the Courier Mail, "EVERY state school in Queensland will teach indigenous culture in a radical plan to reduce the education gap with their fellow Australians. State school residential colleges where indigenous children board, but are close enough to their community to go home on the weekend, are also being proposed. Indigenous educators say the plan represents ''a seismic shift'' within the Queensland Education Department and offers new hope for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Presented in the report, Closing the Gap Education Strategy, schools are told they need to halve the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Year 3 numeracy and literacy levels by 2012. By 2013, schools are expected to lift indigenous retention and attendance rates to that of their non-indigenous students."

If you go to Scot Aldred's Blog [see side panel for Educational blogs], you will see numerous occasions where Scot (an Australian guru on Problem-Based Learning @ Central Queensland University) has recommended that PBL is taught in Australian schools as this approach to learning engages and motivates ALL students!

Let's hope that the "seismic shift" occurs! All the best Queenlander Teachers - this should be a wonderful thing to happen!

 

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Article Review | General

Divided over the Veil

by frances 16. July 2009 10:12
    
Jaroslaw Adamowski reporting in the New Matilda yesterday discusses the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy's 22 June speech and his statement on full body Islamic veils. Adamowski goes on to explain the various views of people within France but also Holland, and, Turkey.

Adamowski reports "In his speech, Sarkozy said the burqa and niqab were "not religious symbols, but symbols of women's debasement and oppression" and therefore "were not welcome" in France, a country that is home to a 5-million-strong Muslim minority, but which is also a secular state where a 2004 law already banned wearing conspicuous religious symbols in public schools........And France surely is not a lone island in the middle of Europe. The "veil issue" is a major topic in Holland also, where in 2006, the government announced it would ban the wearing of burqa at schools. In the end no ban was applied, but the public debate that it sparked off revealed a profound change in Holland's society. The Dutch, once known for being one of Europe's most welcoming nations towards Arabic-speaking immigrants, have lost much of their faith in Muslim integration in Europe since the murder of film director Theo van Gogh, stabbed to death by an Islamic fundamentalist accusing him of anti-Muslim bias, in 2004. Meanwhile, in Turkey, the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been trying to annul a law that forbids wearing headscarves at public universities and state institutions. Both burqa and niqab are rarely seen among Turkish women, and those who decide to cover their heads usually do it with headscarves, loosely covering their hair. Legalising the headscarf in universities was one of AKP's major electoral promises, before it came to power in 2002, but the Turkish Constitutional Court, seeing itself as a defendant of Turkey's secular identity, has rejected all legislative attempts to lift the ban up to date."

This issue provides teachers with an excellent opportunity to develop a WebQuest! The WebQuest could easily be used in Civics, Legal Studies, Politics, or, Religious Studies. Ideally this topic lends itself to antagonistic roles or perspectives reflecting the views of the community within any country. The "messy" problem provides students with an authentic Problem-Based Learning opportunity around a Focus Question like: "Should the French President push for a ban on wearing the burqa or niqab in public?"

If you would like to make a WebQuest around this topic try out SWAT - Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/swat a free area where you will also get free mentoring help while making your WebQuest!

TYPES OF QUESTIONS INITIATING A WEBQUEST A MENTAL MODEL

by frances 14. July 2009 17:24

 
 (Source: Types of Questions initiating a WebQuest: A Mental Model)

 

In this article by Dea Conrad-Curry, the art of questioning is described. Conrad-Curry gives Research examples about content that teachers are wanting students to explore. She then provides some questions that will elicit the same knowledge but promotes higher order thinking. The types of questions are: Understand, Figure out, Decide, Build or invent, Persuade or convince, Challenge or destroy, Acquaint, Dismiss, Wonder, or, Predict.

The article falls down by not describing the questioning involved in Problem-Based Learning - the basis of WebQuests. Again, it ascertains by not exploring PBL that WebQuests are just "inquiry-based" projects.

However, the examples that Conrad-Curry explores are very helpful for teachers wanting to get students to think deeply about a particular subject.

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Article Review

Forgotten Whales

by frances 27. June 2009 14:26

 

(Source: IWC)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has heard reports about the smallest cetaceans: Dolphins, porpoises and small whales from the WWF, the news report cited

The Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garratt, said to the IWC meeting in Portugal that Whales were worth more alive than dead as the Whale watching business was worth around $3Billion worldwide.

On the other hand, European countries are set to increase their whale quota - to that above the Japanese scientists!!

This is a typical scenario for a great WebQuest:

  • It involves a real life situation that is "messy" and involves Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
  • antagonistic yet legitimate views are held by different perspectives or roles
  • collaboration is required to obtain an outcome
  • emotional intelligence is used
  • Higher Order Thinking Skills of Analysis, Evaluation, Creativitiy [Synthesis] have to be used to work out a solution to this messy problem

I love the fact that you can bring real life and important events into the classroom while exploring the curriculum. In this case, the curriculum could be Ecology, Biology - particularly Diversity of Species, Political Sciences, Philosophy for Children (P4C), Values Education, Economics, or Geography.

 

 

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Michael Jackson is Dead

by frances 26. June 2009 16:04
Source: ABC Unleashed  
     
"For decades we have been entertained and reviled by his bizarre mix of talent and dysfunction.
   
What makes someone like Michael Jackson a superstar and what deeper role did he play in our society?" Source: ABC Unleashed  
   
This news story of entertainer, Michael Jackson, dying at 50, could easily be the start of a great WebQuest in two subject areas: Media, and, Music.
    
One of the main things a WebQuest should do is be relevant to the student body! This is called "with-it-ness" by teachers.
There of course have been varied responses to the amount of media coverage on his death and Michael Jackson's life - from those who think he isn't worthy of such coverage to those who are mourning a great song writer and entertainer!
    
These responses indicate that a great WebQuest could be created and developed from this event!!!
                  

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Stem Cells

by frances 26. June 2009 15:52

Another fabulous ABC Catalyst last night on Stem Cells.

Source: ABC Catalyst

"Catalyst takes a look behind the headlines of the stem cell story. Stem cells have the potential to treat any diseases which need healthy new cells - from heart disease, alzheimers, parkinsons, and diabetes to spinal cord injuries. Stem cells come from embryos, but they also are hidden in the tissues of our bodies. But which cells should we use, and why?

We also examine the thorny issue of therapeutic cloning which scientists say offers great promise in delivering embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the patient. Just how far should we go in the search for medical cures?" (Source: ABC Catalyst) [My emphasis]

Both these questions could be regarded as the Focus, Essential or Big Question within a WebQuest about Stem Cells.

The heart of a WebQuest is the Big Question. This question is to challenge students to explore further into the subject material and to THINK!

Learning, using, practising Critical Thinking Skills is essential for students today as they face new problems that our society has never faced before.

This Science topic would make a fabulous WebQuest for Biology or Religious Education.

Devil in the Detail - Should we bother?

by frances 26. June 2009 15:27
     
This is a great website showing
  • the contagious cancer inflicting the Tasmanian Devils;
  • Cedric the first Devil to have immunity to several strains of this disease;
  • efforts to prevent extinction;
  • offers to sequence the Devil's genome from Dr. Vanessa Hayes,
  • and, lots more.

This would be a great topic for a WebQuest especially for those students who are interested in Biology, Ecology, or Molecular Biology.

 

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

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Other WebQuest & Educational Blogs

As I come across other WebQuest Blogs (& Educational ones), I will list them here.

Jane Hart's Blog (Jane is a Social Technologies Guru in UK)

Scot Aldred's Blog (Colleague at Central Queensland University and guru on Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

The Innovative Educator

Digital Education Blog

Blogging Corner Carnival

eLearn Magazine Blog

Dr. Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine

Primary School.com.au Blog

Charlie Sullivan - Charlie does a fantastic job collating websites for Primary schools.

De Tools Blog

This blog by and for online educators and features free web based tools applications and resources. Author: John Goldsmith.

Bright Ideas: a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria

The Book Whisperer

This blog is written by Donalyn Miller, a 6th Grade teacher in Texas, who is reknown for encouraging students to read!

 

Clustr Map

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Can you get the party started?
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Careers
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