Webquest 101

Reviewing search results 2

"About" and more

Always check “about this site” to see who created it, and make sure it is not from an 8th grader. Similarly, W ikipedia can be written by anyone. Though their content is often quite accurate, offering it as a “reliable” source is not teaching your students to evaluate their sources. So it is best to stick to other resources available. Another, “questionable” tool to use is the a bout.com lists. These hotlists are collected by self-nominated “experts” who collect sites for about.com. The credentials of these experts are never provided (and the lists usually include annoying pop-ups and advertising).

 What’s the Site’s Intent? – For whom was the site originally created? A civil war site designed for military historians might be interesting to your fourth graders, but its emphasis probably won’t match yours. Be sure that your sources deal with your topic in a way that fits your own needs.

Check the Reading Level

Many sites written for general audiences may frustrate younger readers. Use this web-based tool to check web site readability: The Readability Test Tool. Another great site to check website readability is Juicy Studio: Readability Test. Another option... use one of the search engines, previously shared, that provides readability levels. One of our favorites is Twurdy.  

Open TWO windows on the I nternet: one for possible web sites and one with The Readability Test Tool or Juicy Studio: Readability Test, ready to go. Simply copy and paste the URL (web address) from the address bar when you are looking at the web page you want students to use. Paste it into the space on this site and click "Calculate Readability." You will be given results including the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease, Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning Fog Score, Coleman Liau Index, and Automated Readability Index (ARI).   Be sure to read the explanations of what these scores mean! Note: The search engine tool does not check an entire SITE, just the actual page you were looking at when you copied the URL. To be sure your students can read the entire site, select a page that is as text-intense as the one you "test." As in any content reading book, illustrations, captions, and other graphics will help your students "read" any page, but sometimes they just need to be able to read the words!

What About Other Students’ Work? – The web is a great way to share student accomplishments. Just remember that posting something on the web doesn’t guarantee its accuracy. The cautions regarding personal pages apply doubly to student projects posted on the web. If you wouldn’t give it a passing grade in your class, why include it in your webquest?

Dealing with Bias – Sooner or later, you’ll find a site that "takes a point of view" either overtly or in a more subtle fashion. Depending on the age of your students, you can either filter this bias in your selection of resources or include sites that have specific points of view. If you introduce diversity of opinions, try to find a way to balance the pros and cons of the issues discussed.