Net gains from geography quest

21st January 2005 at 00:00
Net gains from geography quest A web quest is a structured internet enquiry or investigation that guides pupils through a particular topic. I chose the topic of weather and climate for Year 7 geography.

It took me about seven hours to surf the net and create four lessons'

worth of interactive worksheets in Word format. Each worksheet consists of web links and pupil tasks with extension exercises for more able pupils.

The worksheets are then loaded on to the school intranet to be accessed during lessons. Each class is booked into an ICT-enabled room. The cunning bit, to avoid pupils idly surfing the internet and wasting time printing reams of material, is that an exact copy of the "soft" (on-screen version) is printed before lessons so each pupil has a work booklet in class.

The hard copy is used in unison with the on-screen version. For example, pupils may be directed to view an animated rainfall radar sequence and describe the rainfall pattern over the past few hours. They click on the hyperlink in the on-screen Word document, which takes them directly to a preselected web page. Pupils alternate between viewing web pages and the hard copy, where they write their responses. They also draw diagrams, annotate pictures and work in groups to create posters. This increases interactivity and avoids thoughtless cutting and pasting.

I find that using the internet for real-time activities, such as looking at weather cams in different parts of the world, is a real motivator. Pupils can click on a web cam and look at the weather in Antarctica and compare it with that in Australia.

Carefully crafted, such web quests can accommodate all learning styles and abilities. Textbooks rarely have such wide-ranging appeal.

We've created a departmental website so pupils can now access a digital copy of the web quest from home and the history and religious studies departments have adopted a similar approach.

* Our weather and climate web quest is at www.geography-help.co.uk.

Follow the links to key stage 3 and Year 7

Ian Dixson Head of humanities, The High Arcal School, West Midlands

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