Internet Tool’s Success Touted By Teachers

OCEAN CITY – A presentation to the Board of Education last week revealed some interactive, Internet based alternatives to lesson activities that aim to enhance learning skills while utilizing web-based technology.

Ocean City Elementary Principal Paula Jones and second grade teachers Ashley Fardone and Aaron Dale made a presentation to the Board of Education this week, highlighting their success with an interactive learning tool, WebQuest.

According to webquest.org, WebQuest is “an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all of the information that learners work with comes from the Internet.” WebQuest was created at San Diego State University in 1995 and has grown rapidly.

Fardone and Dale found the interactive tool online and familiarized themselves with it before presenting it to the students, although, according to both Dale and Fardone, the students learned the program more quickly than they did.

WebQuest offers a variety of activities ranging from grades kindergarten to adult in a variety of subjects. Dale and Fardone chose a second grade level activity in the area of reading and social studies. Each student was provided a laptop at his or her desk.

Four students were also present at the presentation to the Board of Education and walked the board and audience members through the WebQuest process.

The second-graders chose the story “Dinosaurs Before Dark” as their interactive activity. Dale explained that the students read the story as a class and then wrote journal entries when they were done. Reading out loud may seem like an age-old classroom activity, but WebQuest adds a twist to the traditional concept. While reading the story, students could stop and click on various links allowing them to research elements of the story, such as diet and habitat of particular dinosaurs.

Dale explained that WebQuest works to supplement current reading and social studies curriculum, to reinforce reading strategies and to introduce new Internet applications.

“We thought this was an interesting way to practice our reading skills,” Dale said.

“It’s a great hands on activity, we feel that we’re really lucky to have that hands on technology at our fingertips,” added Fardone.

Board of Education President Garry Mumford asked whether students could utilize the tool at home as well. Dale explained that there are a variety of websites like WebQuest that students can access from their computers at home for free, but some programs require a fee for use.

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