Researching Digital Sources, Part 1: Guided WebQuest | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M4:U2:L7

Researching Digital Sources, Part 1: Guided WebQuest

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can conduct short research projects to answer a question. (W.6.7)
  • I can use several sources in my research. (W.6.7)
  • I can refocus or refine my question when appropriate. (W.6.7)
  • I can gather relevant information from a variety of sources. (W.6.8)
  • I can quote or paraphrase what others say about my topic while avoiding plagiarism. (W.6.8)
  • I can provide a list of sources I used to gather information in a bibliography. (W.6.8)

Supporting Targets

  • I can choose digital resources that will help me answer my research question.
  • I can gather relevant information from digital resources about my research question. 

Ongoing Assessment

  • Learning from Frightful's Perspective: Chapter 18 (from homework)
  • Researcher's notebooks
  • Exit Ticket: Using Digital Resources


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Reader: Learning from Frightful's Perspective (8 minutes)

    B.  Unpacking Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

    A.  Researching Digital Texts: Mini Lesson (10 minutes)

    B.  Researching Digital Texts: WebQuest (20 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

    A.  Exit Ticket: Using Digital Resources(5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Read Chapter 19, "Destiny is On Wing" and complete Learning From Frightful's Perspective: Chapter 19. 

  • At this point in the research process, students have gathered information relevant to their central research question using resources provided in their research folders. They have learned to collect basic bibliographic information, paraphrase central claims and ideas from the text, and collect important evidence related to those claims and ideas.
  • Students have been collecting this information about sources in their researcher's notebooks. They have also collected additional questions they have about their topic, and revised their research question when necessary.
  • Students research digital resources. This process continues in Lesson 8. This research will take the form of a guided WebQuest. Students receive a list of internet resources on the topic of DDT (see supporting materials). Using a similar process to that of choosing print material (determining which source is most relevant to their questions), students choose what to read from the menu of resources.
  • If you have access to a class web page, consider posting the links provided to that page, making it easier for students to follow the links rather than typing them in themselves.
  • In order to successfully complete the next two lessons, students will each need access to a computer. If technology is limited, consider pairing students at computers.
  • Students collect information in a way identical to the print resources in their researcher's notebooks. What differs in this process, however, is the assessment of credibility. In this lesson, you must demonstrate multiple strategies for assessing the credibility of an internet resource.
  • In advance: Set up technology allowing you to model the internet research process for students. For example, connect a laptop to a projector or use an interactive whiteboard.
  • After students have completed this lesson, collect their exit tickets as a formative assessment. These will help you to form small groups or set individual appointments with students to assist them in this digital research in Lesson 8.
  • Post: Learning targets.




  • Frightful's Mountain (book; one per student)
  • Digital Resources on DDT (one per student; one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Researcher's notebook (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Exit Ticket: Using Digital Resources (one per student)
  • Learning from Frightful's Perspective: Chapter 19 (one per student)



A. Engaging the Reader: Learning from Frightful's Perspective (8 minutes)

  • Be sure students have their text, Frightful's Mountain.
  • Invite students to sit in triads to discuss Learning from Frightful's Perspective: Chapter 18.
  • Compliment students for promptly sitting in their triads and discussing the focus question from last night's homework :

* "What can you infer about the people standing on the top of the mountain? What traits would you use to describe these people? 

  • Circulate to listen to responses shared about what character traits they could infer about the people standing on the mountain. Also, provide support to triads trying to define unfamiliar words.
  • Reconvene the class and ask students to share out.
  • Listen for, "These must be very dedicated people to the environment.  They know about peregrine falcons and the danger they face, and they waited on a mountain top just for the sight of one."
  • Remind students of Rachel Carson's quote, "Nothing exists in nature alone," discussed in Lesson 1. Invite students to think about the quote again. Ask:

 * "How do the events of this chapter relate to the quote 'Nothing exists in nature alone'?"

  • Ask students to share their thinking with their triads, then cold call a few students to share their group's thinking. Guide students toward the idea that this chapter brings up multiple connections: Sam, as a human, had a positive effect on nature by recognizing Frightful's need to leave and live in nature. But this chapter also brings up how rare the peregrine sighting was as a result of harm to the peregrine falcon population caused by DDT.

B. Unpacking Learning Targets (2 minutes)

  • Invite students to read the learning targets with you:

* "I can choose digital resources that will help me answer my research question."

 * "I can gather relevant information from digital resources about my research question."

  • Invite students to Think-Pair-Share:

* "What does digital mean?"

* "How is digital different from print?"

  • Listen for: "Digital means electronic or on the computer. It's different from the paper resources we have been reading." Clarify as needed.
  • Ask:

 * "Now that you have seen the learning targets for this lesson, what do you think you will be doing today? Why?"

  • Listen for: "Reading resources on the internet instead of reading articles printed on paper in our research folders."

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A.Researching Digital Texts: Mini Lesson (10 minutes)

  • Distribute the Digital Resources on DDT to each student and display using a document camera. Tell students that this is a list of Web sites that represents a variety of opinions and sources of information about DDT. Point out the two columns on this list. Ask students to Think-Pair-Share:

* "What does the left-hand column of this list represent?" Listen for students to respond with something like: "These are the Web sites that we can visit about DDT" or "These are the actual URLs that we can follow to read about DDT."

  • Give students a few seconds to scan the right-hand column. Ask students to Think-Pair-Share:

* "How do you think this right-hand column will be helpful?" Guide students toward the idea that the Web site descriptions can help if they are looking for answers to specific questions, or if there is one area of DDT they want to read more about. They don't have to visit every single Web site to find what they're looking for. 

  • Remind students that when deciding which resource to read next, whether it be print or digital, they need to ask themselves a couple of key questions:

-   What is the source information for this? (author, Web site, date, etc.) 

-   Is it a credible source? (If not, students should skip it and move on to other sources.)

-   What information am I missing in my research? 

-   What questions do I need answered before I can take a position on this issue?

  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share:

* "If one of my research questions is 'Are there other solutions to the problem of malaria?', which Web site might I start with?" 

  • Remind students to look at both columns of the Digital Resources on DDT to help guide their thinking. Cold call a partnership to share their thinking. Listen for: "We would go to the Web site for the Pesticide Action Network because it says the Web site discusses why DDT is not the only solution for malaria."
  • Ask students to take out their researcher's notebook.Remind students that before deciding which Web site to read, they should go back and review the notes they have already taken. They should also be sure to reread the questions they recorded in the bottom portion of each page. And then they should ask themselves the two key questions:

-   What information am I missing in my research? 

-   What questions do I need answered before I can take a position on this issue?

  • Tell students that many online forums have reader responses included. These readers are not necessarily experts in the field, and are not required to use evidence to back up their thinking. Therefore, students should avoid reading reader responses, as it may skew their opinions unnecessarily.
  • Give students 3 to 4 minutes to review their notes in their researcher's notebooks. Then, ask students to turn to an elbow partner and share their thinking about which Web site they may begin with and why. 
  • Post the questions you are asking students to think and talk about. This will help all students, but especially those who struggle with multistep directions. 

B. Researching Digital Texts: WebQuest (20 minutes)

  • Remind students that reading a Web site is like reading any other complex text. They should read through the site first to understand the general structure and to get the gist.
  • Remind students they should be on the lookout for new and difficult vocabulary, using the many strategies they have learned to determine the meaning of new words.
  • On their second reading of the Web site, they should go back and collect and paraphrase the important claims and specific evidence to record in their researcher's notebooks.
  • Remind students that the Web site they choose to explore should be Source 4 in their researcher's notebook.
  • Give students the next 20 minutes to read one of the digital sources available to them and fill in the Source 4 page of their researcher's notebook.
  • Circulate and support students in their work. Specifically, some students may need additional guidance in choosing the Web site that will best serve their individual research. 
  • During Work Time B, you may want to pull a small group of students to support in finding evidence from the Web sites. Some students will need more guided practice before they are ready for independent work.
  • Consider printing Web site materials for those students who need the support of "pencil and paper" work where they can highlight, annotate, or chunk text. 

Closing & Assessments


A. Exit Ticket: Using Digital Resources (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the Exit Ticket: Using Digital Resources to each student. Tell students that its purpose is for you to gauge their comfort level with using digital resources, their need for a greater variety of resources, and any struggles they may have had in using the internet as a research tool. Tell students you will read these exit tickets to help prepare for Day 2 of using digital resources.
  • Give students 3 to 4 minutes to complete the exit ticket. Circulate and support students as they work.
  • Collect exit tickets and use them to make any accommodations or create small group instruction that may help in Lesson 8. 


  • Read Chapter 19 of Frightful's Mountain, "Destiny is On Wing" and complete Learning From Frightful's Perspective: Chapter 19.

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