The Third Graders are on a quest to learn about regions of the United States. They are participating in our RegionsQuest WebQuest working in teams playing the roles of economists, sociologists, historians and geographers. The process of determining what information fits into a category (e.g., economics for how people make a living) is an important foundation skill for our young learners. Being able to read non-fiction text for understanding is also an important component of the Language Arts and Social Studies curricula.
The WebQuest engages the students to use information and media literacies as they view images and video as part of our Information and Communication Literacies (ICL) curriculum. The students working with their partners gather information about their chosen states from books as well as Web sites. They are recording their findings in a digital mind map using the Inspiration software. In time, the teams will analyze their findings looking for patterns of how people in their region make a living, experience a distinct culture and have a common history all influenced by geography.
An enduring understanding for this unit of study is to have the students see how their categories of study overlap and influence one another. Already students are making connections with comments such as "I am taking notes on how there are mountains in Colorado which goes into the geography notes. But it also goes under economy because people have jobs working at the ski resorts."
Looking at the "communication" component of ICL, the student teams will be collaborating to write a script and use photographs of their regions to record a video podcast to communicate the results of their research. Their boss, President Obama, is expecting well-designed and high quality videos. Take a look at the WebQuest to learn more about how role playing, collaboration and project creation help students reach deeper understanding in their learning.