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Project-Based Learning (PBL) and WebQuests

 Using Authentic Content with ESOL Support

These are Web addresses for tools and resources that can help ESOL teachers better prepare their students to use authentic content Web sites.

Concerns in using authentic content Websites - check it out first

  • Level of English may be too hard
  • Need to incorporate all four skills, plus vocabulary and grammar
  • Warn students about flashing ads and alluring links
  • WebQuests allow students to be more on their own more--but they still need supervision
  • Time spent planning may be greater--however, WebQuests are reusable learning objects (RLOs)
  • You will need to have checklists/rubrics to evaluate student creative work - have them help create the criteria

  Project tools
  • A wiki or blog to take notes, write concerns, plan/organize as students work online (too many to list here--use your favorite)
  • Filimentality  to clip notes, make comments, and save URLS (lots of teacher resources); or a social bookmarking site, such as Diigo or Delicious
  • A Mind-mapping Tool (some thirty described at Mashable, some specifically for students) for learners to story-board and chart their project

Vocabulary aids
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary or Online Thesaurus for quick look up English-English - also has a version for kids

Babel Fish - instant online translation of a text you copy in, or of a whole webpage

Voycabulary - Makes the words on a Web page (you insert the URL) into links so that a click will send you to the dictionary you select (tell your students which dictionary you want them to use)

Compleat Lexical Tutor (Lextutor) - students can search in an academic concordance for words or expressions they intend to use - provides inductive information about grammar and vocabulary usage (you will need to practice with it yourself first, and help students use it)

Hot Potatoes - a free, downloadable software application to let you prepare six different types of grammar, vocabulary, reading, etc., quizzes to help students master content and language
BrowseAloud - A small, free, downloadable application (PC) that provides a text reader for browsers (Macs will read any page when set to show Speech from the System Preferences) - some students do better when a text is read aloud to them

Assessment tools
Project-based Learning Checklists - sorted by grade level and also in Spanish language - - has examples of ready-made rubrics

Rubistar - online rubric maker for PBL

Resources online for creating WebQuests and Other Types of Projects
Bernie Dodge's page about WebQuests includes links to complete public WebQuests that may not yet be on the QuestGarden index. Quests labeled "Shared" in the QuestGarden may be copied, downloaded, and edited by users.
The Virtual Schoolhouse - "a compendium of project-based learning practices from across the country" - including lots of projects
ISTE: Explore Resources for Reinventing Project-Based Learning - a good set of PBL resource links

Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning - an article in Edutopia about using project-, problem-, and inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning, and how to choose the best one for your classes
The Complete Guide to Project-Based Learning. (2000-2010). Especially strong on research that supports PBL.

Introduction to WebQuests at Excellence Gateway is a brief overview. A Search at their site for "Webquest" results in dozens of sites with examples, links to research, etc.

Nellie's English Projects: Integrating WebQuests in the ESL & EFL Classroom. 2003. N.Deutsch. (Some links are now dead.)

For more links to WebQuests, see the Webhead's discussion, WebQuests for Academic Writing, recently updated.

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Return to Dr. Hanson-Smith's Homepage, Computers for Education

Prepared originally by Dr. Elizabeth Hanson-Smith for the Creating WebQuests Electronic Village Online Session, January 29, 2006, with many thanks to Dafne González for ideas on project-based assessment tools.

Please refer to this page and the author if you use the ideas contained herein.

For the next EVO sessions (January-February annually), please visit the TESOL CALL IS Web page in December at

Last updated 22 August 2010