I have always struggled with the traditional web quest. You know the kind where there are questions and the students go to a site, or various sites, to get the answers. It seems that I am not exposing them to anything new when I do this but rather just teaching them that a ‘blank’ is there to be filled. The quest then becomes not the answer but a completed sheet. Find, write (or paste) and go onto the next.
Each year with my Japanese 11 students we read a story set in Kyoto. It is an amazing city full of world heritage sites, traditional tea shops and the chance of spotting a geisha on the street. I want my students to be able to have various sites in mind when they read the story – and so thought a web quest – for it’s visual element especially – would be a good idea. My first one was a dud – basically a ‘what, where’ sheet that I myself found boring. What to do?
Talking to our school librarian, who sees lots of these activities, she challenged me to have my students use the information they find – in a way that would not become just a copy/paste exercise. So I imagined a tourist – pressed for time – who has 1 day in Kyoto and 6 possible places that they could visit (all from our story). Students have to find out what these places are, where in the city they are located, why a person would go there and finally rank them in order of visiting preference. It’s amazing to look at the results and find out what would appeal to them and why. Often we have a class discussion after in which they talk with each other, in Japanese, about the results.
Kyoto also has an interesting dialect so I send them to a site to ‘hear’ what it would be like to be on the streets. Finally I ask them to comment on the websites themselves – what they found appealing or what they think could be improved.
So now its not a web quest for me but rather a task that uses some websites. A link to my exercise – never fear its mostly in English! – is here if you wish.
What kind of web quests do you do?