Monday, July 27, 2009

Alternative Assessment: PBL & WebQuests

This week held so many prospects for me. It gave me answers or rather solutions to many pending issues:
-Our students are overwhelmed by written tests and quizzes, and many times their grades come as a shock in comparison with their class performance.
-Our lesson plans often disregard different learning styles, and it is only up to the teacher’s personal effort to cater to one student’s needs or the other. However, such efforts remain personal and are not standardized.
-The opportunities for learning while having fun seem to become minimal.

These have been major concerns for me and my fellow teachers. Now, I believe that PBL and WebQuests provide some answers to our concerns.
1st- They answer the need for alternative assessment as students will have a variety of opportunities to demonstrate what they know and how they have improved.
2nd- Again, both PBL and WebQuests offer teachers the chance to get to know their students’ styles, interests, what they’re good at, and what they find difficult. This one-to-one interaction will make the need to include differentiated learning into our lesson plans more tangible.
3rd- Last but definitely not least, both, but especially WebQuests, would be enjoyable for students. I find that the guidance and the structure that WebQuests offer are appealing to students.

The challenge remains to try as much as possible to prepare projects that fit with the curricular objectives, enhance students’ thinking skills, and call for their creativity.
Moreover, first steps into anything new are usually the most difficult. We need to make that first step into initiating ourselves and our students into a more effective use of the web. Most of our students are connected to the internet, and their parents seek guidance as to how to channel their kids’ exposure to the web. Besides, the administration would be highly supportive of any proposal / method that is well-prepared and that is based on an acclaimed approach. The challenge is ours as teachers who need to make that first step and be as prepared as possible.
Finally, monitoring students’ group work step by step is another challenge. Then again, with the proper planning and checklist or rubric, both the teacher’s job and that of students will become more manageable.

One thing I know for sure is that I am going to be working on the preparation of a WebQuest that would target students’ summer work book!!! I know bringing in that change this year might be difficult, but a proposal needs a sample to back it up :-)!

This week, I have attached a picture of students as they were voting for Jeita Grotto as a candidate for the new 7 natural wonders of the world along with a picture of the grotto. Enjoy!


  1. Dear Abdelnour,

    I find PBL enormously useful as a technique of engaging students, thus encouraging learning. A well-chosen project lets students create for an audience beyond the classroom - in other words, a real audience.

    Giving students rubrics helps them do a much better job for a couple a reasons, I find. One is that the teacher has to think more clearly about evaluation in order to create the rubric, so the evaluation is more closely tied to the objectives of the course/lesson. The other reason is that once students know what is expected and how to do well, they will try to do well. It's made some great changes in students' results in my classes.

    Good luck with your WebQuest, and please do share it once it's ready - I'd love to hear about how students do with it, too.


  2. Dear Abdelnour,

    Great pix, thanks for sharing! Your students look very happy and I wish I could see that grotto in person--it looks very beautiful.

    As always, your comments and plans are very well thought out and you are well on your way to implementing some interesting new tasks.

    As for web quests, what topic(s) do you have in mind? If you are looking for ideas for some you can use as is or adapt, see:

    All the best from Oregon,