Monday, October 5, 2015

WebQuests and Writing in the History Classroom

Hi everyone!  Julia from History from the Middle here!  I wanted to share with you all how I incorporate elements of writing in my history class through the use of highly engaging WebQuest activities!

There are so many different ways for content areas to incorporate writing, and make it meaningful and engaging.  With the implementation of Common Core, students now, more than ever, must use evidence-based support within their writing.  This is such a natural element for history to incorporate, because most of what we write has to be based on historical evidence!

One of the ways that I do this, and my student's LOVE it, are through research-based WebQuest activities!  Depending on the topic, students may have to read a primary source to gain evidence, watch a video, examine an artifact....The possibilities are endless!

To show you what my student's do, I'm going to walk you through one of my student's FAVORITE WebQuest activities which is a CSI Investigation of Otzi the Iceman that I do with my Ancient Civilization students when we are in our Early Man unit.

Students start the activity by watching an introductory video on who Otzi was, and where he lived.  This helps to build the "suspense" of the investigation!  Next, students go through different pieces of research to help come to their own conclusions on what happened to Otzi and determine how he died.

For this activity, I created a Google Site and loaded all of the directions for the investigation step by step.  

Students then work with a fellow investigator and go through a series of research questions to help build their background knowledge on what may have happened to Otzi.  

Once students have researched the background information, and the possible 4 theories as to what happened to Otzi, they are then to write their final investigative report!

I am in a 1:1 school that uses GAFE (Google Apps for Education).  I personally run all of my assignments through Google Classroom (which I will do a separate post on!)  

I then go into Google Drive and create a Google Doc for students to write their final investigative report.  I then take that Doc and load it as an assignment in Google Classroom.  

One of the great benefits I like about having students work in Google Docs, is the collaboration piece.  While they are working, I'm able to go into their document and watch what they are doing, and make comments and give immediate feedback!

One of the things I love about using WebQuests to invoke the writing process is the natural flow of writing that occurs.  Students become so engaged in the topic and the process, that the writing just comes so naturally!  To see them using the evidence from the research in their writing is so EXCITING!  

From my experience, having students interact with the content in a way that evokes certain feelings/opinions/emotions allows them to access the writing process in a different way.  Even though I teach history, we are all still reading and writing teachers and we need to provide as many opportunities for our students to implement those standards outside of their language arts class.  I think that WebQuests are one of many ways to do that and get students excited about writing!

What are some interesting methods you use in your class to get students excited about writing?


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