WebQuests Let Students Explore Independent ally in Indianapolis Schools

By Stacey Andell for Schools K-12

The Indianapolis Public Schools Click Program

The Indianapolis Schools Click Program, a professional development program for teachers, helped teachers designed web based learning activities for students, called WebQuests.   The Indianapolis Public School website offers a range of WebQuests, arranged by grade level (K – 2, 3 – 5, 6 – 8, 9 – 12) and subject area.   Many of the WebQuests connect multiple subject areas.   All the WebQuests are offered free to the Indianapolis Public School community in order to enhance student learning on a variety of subjects.   They are easily accessed by clicking on the relevant grade level and subject area on the website.

What is a WebQuest?

A WebQuest is defined as an “inquiry based activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web.”   WebQuests are designed to focus learners on using information and support thinking on all levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.    Students are given the exact location of the information that they need in the order that they need it in order to use the learner’s time effectively.   The model followed by the Indianapolis Public Schools was developed by San Diego State University in 1995.   The WebQuests on the Indianapolis Public School website are best viewed with the latest version of Internet Explorer.  

A Sample WebQuest About Dinosaurs

In order to see the creative and interesting uses for WebQuests, let’s look at one particular example.   This WebQuest was developed by an Indianapolis Public School elementary science teacher to help students learn about dinosaurs.  

At the beginning of the WebQuest, there is a clear assignment: a pair of students is going to design a poster about one of the dinosaurs they learn about in the Dinosaurland WebQuest.   In order to do this, they are instructed to print out pictures and type out important information.   The Indianapolis Public School students will be judged on their correct use of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, bringing in a writing element to this science lesson.   

The WebQuest provides students with information about Meat Eating Dinosaurs, Plant Eating Dinosaurs, and Fossils.   In each section, the students are directed to look at information provided by various museums, including the Cyber Space Museum of Natural History and Exploration Technology, the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Royal Ontario Museum.   In addition to these professional sites, Indianapolis Public School students are also directed to teacher – produced websites that give details about specific dinosaurs in addition to graphics pages like the 3D Dinosaurs Pictures Web Page.  

At the end of the WebQuest, students are provided with a detailed rubric for completing their poster.  This rubric includes how many points the students will gain or lose for each part of the poster, including Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, Pictures, and Presentation.   At the end of this rubric is a page for the Indianapolis Public School teacher to print out and complete with details about the student’s work and accomplishments.    In this way, the Indianapolis Public School student works almost entirely independently from the teacher to create and present a unique insight into the subject.