Using WebQuests to Fulfill Common Core Expectations

WebQuests have always been good instructional tools for structuring students’ research and inquiry using online information sources. However, considering the fact that the method was originally established in 1995 by Bernie Dodge, professor of educational technology at San Diego State University, it is a wonder that the method isn’t more widely known and that there aren’t more high quality WebQuests living on the internet as ready resources for instruction.

The Common Core, however, gives us a terrific opportunity to re-examine and re-prioritize WebQuests as an important methodological tool. Importantly, the Common Core State Standards establishes the following expectations:

  • By high school, 70% of students’ reading (including reading in science, math, and social studies) should center on informational text. (See page 5 of the CCSS for English Language Arts and Literacy in History / Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.)
  • By high school, 80% of students’ writing tasks should require them to persuade or explain.
  • Students need to make and support assertions using specific text evidence.
  • Students need to integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media. (See the CCSS ELA Anchor Standards)
  • Literacy development should be a shared responsibility, with reading, questioning and writing expected beyond the English classroom.
  • Research, technology, and media skills should be integrated throughout the curriculum.

How Do WebQuests Align with Common Core Expectations?

As defined by Bernie Dodge, a Webquest is “an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet.”

A true, high-quality WebQuest is not simply a series of web-based experiences or an internet scavenger hunt. By contrast, a real WebQuest will make good use of internet-based resources, allowing teachers to present content in diverse formats and media and requiring students to engage in a learning activity modeled on a real-world task that requires them to research and use technology skills, then synthesize and analyze the information they have gathered. In the culminating project or writing assignment of a WebQuest, students are generally asked to persuade an audience or explain their point of view based on the specific evidence they have gathered through internet-based inquiry.

In short, a well-designed WebQuest can fulfill many of the Common Core expectations for teaching and learning. Moreover, a WebQuest is a relevant tool across the curriculum, helping teachers in content-driven courses share the responsibility for students’ literacy development. WebQuests work hand in hand with the Common Core to increase students’ inquiry and critical thinking skills and develop their ability to research and use evidence!

WebQuests in Action

The following link will take you to a WebQuest titled Investigating the Inca which was designed for a 3rd grade classroom. This WebQuest is aligned to Common Core standards (see the Teachers’ Page), is structured around a journalistic task, and includes informational resources related to the Inca culture. A unit plan that begins with reading an Inca folktale and which articulates specific instructional plans is available.

We would welcome your feedback regarding this WebQuest and about WebQuests as instructional tools for implementing the Common Core!

For further information about how to structure a WebQuest as well as using WebQuests to promote classroom inquiry, technology integration, and student engagement, we invite you to use our VoiceThread presentation:

About Julie

I am an experienced, results-oriented education reform leader who designs educational programs and rigorous curriculum materials and establishes strategic vision to address complex problems and perceived barriers to school performance.
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