Section VII: Description and Schedule of Planned Activities

DESCRIBE THE PLANNED ACTIVITIES OF THE PROJECT AND HOW THEY RELATE TO THE PROPOSED PROJECT'S GOAL AND OBJECTIVES.

The WebQuest Academy project can be summarized into two primary sets of activities: those related to the student learning activities, in which students participate in WebQuests created by their teachers, and those related to the training of teachers. This section consists of a detailed description of these two sets of activities and a calendar of project events.

The basic idea behind WebQuest Academy is to provide students an opportunity to learn important life skills and to increase their knowledge in the four core content areas while working together and using technology to communicate and creatively solve real-world problems. During a 4-day training workshop, participating teachers will learn about Internet technology and WebQuests and will create their own WebQuest that is designed to meet the needs of their students and curriculum. Following the training sessions, teachers will then have their students conduct the WebQuests they created, working in small groups in the computer "mini-labs" provided by this grant. Some WebQuests may be as short as a few hours, but most are much more involved, lasting several weeks or more.

The basic WebQuest concept was developed by Bernie Dodge and Tom March of San Diego State University. A WebQuest, as defined by Bernie Dodge, is "an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet." WebQuests of either short or long duration are deliberately designed to make the best use of a student's time. There is questionable educational benefit in having learners surfing the net without a clear task in mind. To achieve that clarity of purpose, WebQuests generally contain at least the following parts:

The above list of six parts of a WebQuest is from Bernie Dodge and provides a basic framework. For the proposed WebQuest Academy project, however, the concept has been modified to address our specific needs. The focus of this project is to help students learn about the application of classroom concepts to solving real-world problems. In doing this, they will communicate with adult professionals who can show them how those classroom concepts are used in the real world, which in turn will help them to apply those concepts in creating solutions to the WebQuest problems. The following is a list of innovative WebQuest modifications designed especially for the WebQuest Academy project:

The following is an example of such a WebQuest, to illustrate the innovative nature of this project: A science teacher is interested in enhancing a unit on food webs and ecology. She designs a WebQuest that presents this problem (a real problem in the Warrensburg community): A local city lake has recently turned very murky, with numerous fish die-offs. Conservation agents have suggested that this is due to large quantities of waste from the domestic ducks and geese residing at the lake. The task (problem) presented by the WebQuest is to design a solution: remove the resident birds (not a popular decision with residents), install a large filter (very expensive), or any of several other possibilities. Using a "mini-lab" of six Internet-connected computers, students work in groups representing roles, such as scientist, city council, residents living near the lake, etc. They will contact adult experts that represent the role they have selected and ask them several questions by email. They then use the links on the WebQuest web site created by their teacher to access high quality web resources that provide current information on the various aspects of this topic, such as lake ecology, impacts of domestic waterfowl on water quality, companies that produce water filters, etc. This "guided" research allows them to take advantage of the wealth of the Internet, without wasting time with aimless browsing. After conducting extensive research of web-based resources, student groups will generate possible solutions based on their assumed roles. They will email their solution to their adult partners, who will provide expert feedback. In a class seminar, each group will present their proposed solution, then class discussion will lead to creation of a single unified solution. This solution could then be presented to the Warrensburg City Council as a possible solution to a real-world problem.

This entire set of activities will be guided by the WebQuest web site created by the teacher during the 4-day training workshop. The "mini-lab" of six computers for each elementary school is essential for these activities to be carried out smoothly. No additional computers are needed for the Middle School and the High School, as they have labs of Internet connected computers.

The WebQuest web site created by each of the 50 participating teachers will become a segment of the much larger Warrensburg R-VI WebQuest site. This is significant because these WebQuests will be designed to address the Missouri Show-me Standards and Curriculum Frameworks, making this a vary valuable educational web site for other teachers in Missouri (and beyond). This is the most important aspect of the dissemination of the WebQuest Academy project.

Again, the goal of this project is to provide an opportunity to learn important life skills and increase knowledge in all four core content areas while working together and using cutting edge technology to communicate and solve real-world problems. The information above examines the nature of WebQuests, and how the concept has been modified to best suit the goals of this project. Now we will examine the specific knowledge and skills that students will learn as they carry out the WebQuest activities. On the following page is a table that identifies project activities that address the 15 Show-me Standards targeted by the WebQuest Academy project.

Meeting the Show-me Standards Challenge:

Sample Activities of the WebQuest Academy Project

Process Standards Addressed by this Project

WebQuest Academy Activities
1.1 Develop questions and ideas to initiate and refine research Students will develop approaches to WebQuest problems based upon specific professional roles
1.2 Conduct research to answer questions and evaluate information and ideas Students will explore web sites with information related to the issues and will email adult experts
1.4 Use technological tools and other resources to locate, select and organize information Students will use Internet connected computers to gather information and communicate with experts, then will apply this information to a solution
1.5 Comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works Students will analyze current informational web resources and the email replies of experts
1.7 Evaluate the accuracy of information and the reliability of its sources Based upon the sponsoring organizations and upon the characteristics of web sites, students will learn to evaluate the quality of web resources
2.1 Plan and make written, oral and visual presentations for a variety of purposes and audiences Students will synthesize information they have gathered and will present their proposed solutions to problems to their class and by email to adult experts
2.3 Exchange information, questions and ideas while recognizing the perspectives of others Students will exchange ideas with group members as they create solutions and with other groups as they compare the qualities of different solutions
2.7 Use technological tools to exchange information and ideas Students will use Internet connected computers to interact with adult experts via email and at interactive Ask-an-Expert web sites
3.1 Identify problems and define their scope and elements Based upon the roles that student groups take on, they will carefully examine the WebQuest problem and define the elements significant to their role
3.5 Reason inductively from a set of specific facts and deductively from general premises Students will analyze and apply factual information gathered from web resources to create solutions to very specific problems
3.6 Examine problems and proposed solutions from multiple perspectives In a "seminar" where student groups present their proposed solutions to the problems, students will examine and compare the solutions from each group
4.1 Explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions As students present their solutions to their peers and to adult experts (via email), they will have to explain their reasoning and support the solution.
4.3 Analyze the duties and responsibilities of individuals in societies Students will communicate with adult experts representing various roles in society, discovering how classroom concepts are applied in the real world
4.6 Identify tasks that require a coordinated effort and work with others to complete those tasks Students will work together to design solutions representing specific roles, and also will learn that representatives of all roles must contribute to solutions that benefit everyone
4.8 Explore, prepare for and seek educational and job opportunities Students will communicate with experts representing a variety of professions, asking for their input

The student learning activities described above are the main focus of the WebQuest Academy project, and will result in significant learning. This cannot take place, however, without another important aspect of the project, the teacher-training program. The grant will provide substitute teachers for fifty teachers to attend a 4-day workshop on the use of technology, particularly those skills needed to create and use instructional web sites such as WebQuests.

With only five teachers attending the workshop at one time, it is designed to allow as much individual assistance as possible. This 4-day workshop will be held two days one week, followed by two days the next week, and will be repeated ten times between October 1999 and March 2000 so that all fifty teachers can attend. Participating teachers will choose the 4-day session that best fits their schedule. The workshop will provide a high level of proficiency in instructional applications of Internet resources and in creating and using WebQuests web pages. The class will consist of the following units of study:

Day #1: Mastering your web browser and the Internet

- Introduction to WebQuests

- Planning your own WebQuest

Day #2:  Locating web resources for your own WebQuest

- Creating web pages with Adobe PageMill

- Working with web graphics using Adobe PhotoDeluxe

Day #3: Individual work on WebQuests

- Locating and contacting experts willing to provide student feedback

Day #4: Individual work on WebQuests

- Creating pre-and post-assessments for Show-me Standards and content
(see Objectives #1 and #2 in Section VI)

Upon completion of the class, project teachers will receive the software they will need to continue editing their WebQuest web pages in their own classrooms (see the budget explanation, Section VIII, for details of software purchases). They will then have their students conduct the WebQuest they have created, working in small groups in the computer "mini-labs" provided by the grant (or in the computer labs, if the teacher is at the Middle School or High School).

The table below provides information on what the participating teachers will be offered, and what they will be asked to provide.

What WebQuest Academy teachers will gain:

What WebQuest Academy teachers must GIVE

Opportunity to attend 4-day technology class

Substitutes provided during 4-day class

Opportunity to create an online WebQuest customized for specific curriculum needs

Software for continued creation of instructional web sites (includes Adobe PageMill, Adobe PhotoDeluxe, and AppleWorks)

"Mini-lab" of six Internet connected computers (for each of the four elementary schools)

Attend all of the 4-day technology class and complete the WebQuest web page project that accompanies the class

Complete the WebQuest student learning activities with their students during the designated time following the technology class

Create and administer the pre-and post-assessments of student learning (see Objectives #1 and #2 in Section VI)

The schedule on the next two pages provides a detailed description of all activities related to the project and deadlines for completion of these activities.

Schedule of Planned Activities

AUGUST 1999 Order all equipment and software. Prepare computers and software for use in the WebQuest Academy training workshops, and set up "mini-labs" of computers in each of the four elementary schools (Southeast, Ridgeview, Martin Warren, and Sterling), including networking tasks (see the budget explanation in Section VIII for an explanation).

Conduct an introductory presentation for teachers at each of the six schools, and distribute an information sheet to all teachers (which will include a selection of dates for the 4-day workshop). Teachers will be asked to contact the project coordinator, Stan Smith, directly in order to register to participate, beginning at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, August 31st. Since a survey in May indicated that nearly 100 teachers were interested in participating, teachers will be accepted on a first-come basis. To insure that there is even distribution of teachers in all buildings, no more than 10 teachers will be accepted from any one school. Participating teachers will be interviewed directly on the phone, in which they will select one of the scheduled workshop times, specify their software needs (PC or Mac), etc.

SEPTEMBER The project planning committee will get together to make final decisions about workshop scheduling and sequencing, locations and use of computer "mini-labs," and possible additional activities related to the project.

Distribute a WebQuest Academy "newsletter" to all 50 participating teachers, which describes additional details about the project and provides an overview of WebQuests. Appropriate web site addresses will be provided and teachers will be asked to visit them prior to attending the workshops so that they can begin thinking about how they might integrate their own WebQuest into their curriculum.

All 50 participating teachers will complete the Mankato scale, which assesses their levels of competence and self-confidence with regard to instructional technology (see Objective #4 in Section VI).

OCTOBER Begin conducting 4-day WebQuest Academy teacher workshops. The workshops will be held all day, from 8:00 to 3:00, two consecutive days on one week, followed by two more consecutive days the next week. Only five teachers will attend each 4-day series. The series will be repeated ten times between October 1999 and March 2000. An ideal room for these workshops has been selected in Warrensburg Middle School, which is centrally located in the district. This "Teacher Training Center" is too small to be used as a student classroom, but is well-equipped for the purposes of the WebQuest Academy workshops.

As part of the 4-day WebQuest Academy workshops, participating teachers will design the pre- and post-assessments of Show-me Standards related to problem-solving, responsible decision making, communication, and technology use (see Objective #1 in Section VI) and the pre- and post-assessments of content knowledge targeted by their WebQuest activities (see Objective #2 in Section VI). These assessments must be administered before beginning the WebQuest activities, and again after project activities are completed.

As part of the 4-day WebQuest Academy workshops, participating teachers will participate in performance assessments in which they demonstrate their ability to perform a variety of tasks related to the hardware and software used for this program, particularly the creation and use of educational web sites such as WebQuests (see Objective #3 in Section VI).

 

OCTOBER to MARCH Participating teachers will continue to take the scheduled WebQuest Academy workshops and carry out the WebQuest activities and assessments with their students.

APRIL All 50 participating teachers will again complete the Mankato scale, which assesses their levels of competence and self-confidence with regard to instructional technology (see Objective #4 in Section VI). The scores of this post-survey will be compared to those of the pre-survey given in September.

MAY 2000 All of the individual WebQuest Academy web pages produced by the participating teachers will be combined in a comprehensive Warrensburg WebQuest Academy web site (this will be completed by the project coordinator, Stan Smith). This web site, which will include fifty WebQuests designed to address the Missouri Show-me Standards and Curriculum Frameworks, will be a valuable site to teachers throughout Missouri (and beyond).

Selected project teachers and students will present the WebQuest Academy web site to Warrensburg community groups at a variety of events, including PTO meetings, the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, etc.

The project planning committee will meet to review the progress of the project and the results of the project assessments. Preliminary decisions will be made about strategies for continuing and improving the program during the next school year.