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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, as for example, those they will encounter in WebQuests.

Concerns in using authentic content websites and WebQuests

  • Level of English may be too hard in some websites
  • Need to incorporate all four skills, plus vocabulary and grammar
  • WebQuests offer a new approach to teaching/learning: students are on their own more
  • Because they are project-based and often encourage group activities, WebQuests may appear to be hard to assess
  • Time spent planning may be greater--however, WebQuests are reusable learning objects (RLOs)

Research tools
Wiki or blog to take notes as students work online (too many to list here--use your favorite, which might include Google Docs, used by students communally)

Diigo to highlight pages, make comments, organize pages in lists (with slideshow function), and save URLS to a community group -

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

Babelfish - instant online translation -

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

The 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) -
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 -

Hot Potatoes - a free software application to let you prepare six different types of grammar, vocabulary, reading, etc., quizzes to help students master content and language -

Assessment tools
Project-based Learning Checklists - sorted by grade level and also in Spanish language, the checklists may be printed - - has examples of ready-made rubrics for many different kinds of projects -

Rubistar - online rubric maker -
(see also Hot Potatoes, above, for making quizzes)

Further resources online for creating WebQuests and learning more about project-based learning
Bernie Dodge's page about WebQuests includes links to complete public WebQuests that may not yet be on the WebQuest index -

PBL Web Ring - has apparently disappeared. Here are sites from the original ring that are still working:
The Virtual Schoolhouse - a compendium of project-based learning practices from across the country (VisionLink)

Project-based Learning with Technology - sponsored by ISTE, new links are added quarterly (Diane McGrath, Kansas State U)

The Project Approach - "the Project Approach builds on natural curiosity, enabling children to interact, question, connect, problem-solve, communicate, reflect, and more" (Sylvia Chard)

PBL: Do-It-Yourself - resources, professional development, technical assistance opportunities, and tools for improving practice; has a nice short video with secondary school students sharing their experiences with PBL (Buck Institute for Education)

IMSA's PBL Network - lots of good examples of projects, opportunities for collaboration, grants, professional development, etc. (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) - locate and create ready-to-use Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics and classroom calendars;  also tools for student use

Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning - originally an article in Edutopia about using inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning, and how to choose the best one for your classes - (Larry Johnson and Annette Lamb, 2000, 2007)

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Prepared by Dr. Elizabeth Hanson-Smith for the Creating WebQuests Electronic Village Online Session, January 29, 2006, with many thanks to Dafne Gonz��lez for ideas on project-based assessment tools. (Most recent update 15 April 2011.)

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