The natural place to begin integrating the Web for learning is collecting sites that you find most useful and interesting on your topic. Doing this will save your learners hourse of aimless surfing. The first step in using the power of the Internet for learning is linking to the sites that you find most useful. This could be shared as a paper list of locations on the web, but then too many people are left typing in those yucky "www-dot" thingies that result in many mistakes and frustration. It can also be done through bookmarks, but then you have to export and import bookmark files and they are always subject to someone's tampering when you or your students are away from the particular computer you to which you added the bookmarks. It's a much more efficient process to create a web page that collects the locations. This solves the computer-specific nature of bookmarks and also makes your collection available to everyone in your school, district and the world. When you create a hotlist or a guided tour, your learners will find it much more easy to teach with the web.
Many teacher have student create multimedia projects. Here learners dig through a collection of Internet sites organized around specific categories such as, photographs, maps, stories, facts, quotations, sound clips, videos, virtual reality tours, etc. A multimedia hotlist provides links to the content types and the students then download, copy and paste, the elements to create their project. Learners use the Scrapbook to find aspects of the broader topic that they feel are important. Students could create a variety of formats: newsletter, desktop slide presentation, collage, bulletin board, PowerPoint, or web page. By allowing students to "find themselves" in their interests, the Multimedia Scrapbook offers a more open, student-centered approach that allows students to construct their own connections that results in long term learning.
Tips for Using Hotlists
v Learners are spared hours of searching
v Time in computer lab is maximized
v Equal to a trip to the library when the librarian pulls the books on the topics to be reviewed
When it's time to develop some solid factual knowledge on a subject, teachers and students can create Treasure Hunts or Scavenger Hunts. The basic strategy here is to find web pages that hold information (text, graphic, sound, video, etc.) that is essential to understanding the given topic. Students will be asked to visit the links to gather the information through questions you pose. These questions will force the student to explore the pages to get the answers. So the hunt is created by the teacher by gathering 10 -15 links (and remember, these are the exact pages you want the students to go to for information). After you've gathered these links, you then pose at least one key question for each web resource you've linked to. Well designed hunts hold questions that define the scope or parameters of the topic. When a “Big Question” is included student can synthesize the information to form a broader understanding of the major concept that is the focus of the hunt.
Tips for Using Knowledge Hunts
v Work to create clearly worded questions
v Formulate keywords accurately
v Link to the actual page that holds the answer not the index page of the website
v State in the directions the expectations for the answers
Ø Will one word answers be correct?
Ø Must they be written in complete sentences?
v Require statement of specific locations for answer
v Raise the level of difficulty by the way the locations sites are listed
Ø Easy—site listed then question
Ø Difficult—list of questions then list of sites
Subject Samplers tap into the need to interest and connect students to the chosen topic. Specifically, Samplers work as a means of motivating students to explore a topic further. Subject Sampler learners are presented with a smaller number of intriguing websites organized around a main topic. Students are asked to respond to the web-based activities from a personal perspective. Rather than uncover hard knowledge (as they do in a Treasure Hunt/Scavenger Hunt), students are asked about their perspectives on topics, comparisons to experiences they have had, interpretations of artworks or data, etc. Thus, more important than the right answer is that students are invited to interpret the topic. Use a Subject Sampler when you want students to feel connected, when you want them to offer personal opinions, when you want higher order thinking such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Tips for Using Subject Samplers
v Select great websites (attractive, diverse, exciting)
v Select topics that encourage different points of view
v Be clear in giving directions
Infrequently used, these activities focus on reflective thinking and writing. This is a creative mental pondering of a topic the reveals the mind at work. The reflector opens with some occasion that the student is asked to ponder then react to. The web provides the different perspectives that will perturb the learner and force them to look at the prompt in a new way. These are not frequently used but are wonderful higher order thinking activities.
Tips for Using Insight Reflectors
v Prompt must encourage cvreative thinking
v English and Social studies classes with ethical issues offer good prompts
Another higher order thinking activity this web activity is used when a concept is being taught that cannot be confined to one simple definition. An example might be the concept of justice. There are many different definitions depending on point of view. The web is full of pages that discuss the concept. Another example might be the concepts embraced in a piect of literature, for example, Hamlet by Shakespeare. By viewing many examples of an Impressionist painting a student could derive the critical attributes of Impressionism. The ThinkQuest challenge is an example of a concept builder.
Tips for Using Concept Builders
v Choose topics that have many attributes many of them subtle
v Look for concepts that have “gray areas”
v Provide questions to prompt student thought processes
When higher order thinking concepts are the target and the more challenging aspects of the topic are explored, your students are ready to try a WebQuest. Basically, a WebQuest presents student groups with a challenging task, scenario, or problem to solve. It is a cooperative learning activity. It's best to choose aspects of a topic that are under dispute or that at least offer different perspectives. Current events, controversial social issues, and environmental topics work well. Also anything that requires evaluation will evoke a variety of interpretations. The web is so critical because it offers the breadth of perspectives and viewpoints that are needed to construct meaning on complex topics. Students benefit from being linked to a wide variety of web resources so that they can explore and make sense of the issues involved in the challenge.
Logistically, all students begin by learning some common background knowledge, then divide into groups. In the groups each student or pair of students have a particular role, task, or perspective to master. They effectively become experts on one aspect of a topic. When the roles come together, students must synthesize their learning by completing a summarizing act such as e-mailing congressional representatives or presenting their interpretation to real world experts on the topic.
Tips for Using WebQuests
v Choose a large, complex topic
v Current events, social issues, environmental problems make great topics
v Scientific hypothesizing works well
v Begin with basic information for everyone
v Clearly define roles
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