Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society present

Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented exercise using Web sites.  Students explore Web resources to obtain answers to questions, conduct research, or learn more about particular positions.  A WebQuest has students synthesize, analyze, solve problems, or apply knowledge to real world situations.  For example, the WebQuest in Texas v. Johnson (linked) has students prepare for a legislative hearing by researching the positions of different interest groups on the issue of flag burning.  Many WebQuests use group-based work, with a division of tasks among students.  It is usually best to build the activity around pre-selected resources so that students can spend time engaging with information, not searching for it.

PROCEDURE

To create a WebQuest:

  1. Decide on the problem or issue students will address through the WebQuest.  Locate helpful Web resources that will help students address this problem or issue.  When appropriate, look for a variety of sources with a variety of perspectives. 
  2. Create a list of Web sites for students to use.  Indicate whether these Web sites are required or optional, and if you want them to find additional resources.  Some students may find it helpful to see a particular list of questions that can be answered by going to a specific Web site.  (This “worksheet” should not be the end product, but rather a place to take notes.)
  3. Devise a task for students to complete that incorporates information from the various sites.  The task should involve higher-order thinking and not simply summarizing the content contained on Web sites.  Some examples of tasks include creating a multimedia presentation, participating in a discussion, debate, or deliberation, participating in a simulation, presenting possible solutions to a problem in a multimedia format, or publishing solutions on a Web site.
  4. Develop a rubric or another clear (written) set of expectations to give to students so they know how they will be assessed. 

To conduct a WebQuest:

  1. Familiarize students with guidelines for Web-based research.  See Evaluating Web Sites (linked) for more information.
  2. Frame the problem, issue or task for students.  Explain how and why the Web Sites will be the source of information and drive the activity. 
  3. Distribute assignment sheets and assessment rubrics or tools.  
  4. If you want students to work in groups, spend time reviewing the roles and how each student is expected to contribute.
  5. After students have completed their tasks, debrief the activity by discussing what they learned, as well as possible extensions and applications of the information. 

Internet resources for finding and developing WebQuests:

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