Friday, 20 February 2015


A Webquest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995. Since then,  thousands of teachers have embraced WebQuests as a way to make good use of the internet while engaging their students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century requires.  

Webquests promote high-level thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and provide an avenue for seamlessly integrating technology into the curriculum.

When coming to CLIL contexts, I would say that they add the following benefits:

-  They are student-centered and there is true active learning  involved. 

- The teacher becomes a mere facilitator. (He/she will check that the resources and links provided are working before students start carrying out the tasks and will monitor the process. A good webquest includes teacher's notes to know what his/her role should be)

- They provide really meaningful contexts in which students are in contact with everyday language settings that are applicable to their lives.

- Interpersonal skills become essential throughout the process since the learning activities are based on projects and research development roles.

- Cooperative learning is a major characteristic of task-based projects.

- Culture is a core area and the other 3 Cs (content, communication and cognition)  are also crucial elements in good webquests.

Our next seminar on March 17th will focus on how to choose adequate proposals for our CLIL contexts from the many available sites for teachers. 

Right now I would just like to show you a couple of good examples: the first one I have chosen is a webquest on cloning which can be used in Science but also in Ethics. You can find it here.

During this Webquest, students will be exposed to interactive expository texts that describe the basics of cloning, the history of cloning and the controversial applications of cloning. Students will simulate the procedure of laboratory cloning and they will also formulate an opinion on the ethics of cloning endangered/extinct species. Thus, a wonderful extension for this Webquest could be a classroom discussion/debate on the ethics of cloning endangered/extinct species

My second example deals with a very interesting topic: what really ended World War II, which could be useful for History teachers. This is the link to it.

This is an introductory post to the topic but I would like to finish by letting you know that next seminar session I will present lots of examples for your content areas and I will also suggest how to  identify really  good webquests. 

Have a look at the following rubric so that you can start your own search for valid webquests  if you wish. 

Last but not least, I am embedding a prezzi presentation by two professors that provides a very clear  introduction to the  topic:

Thursday, 5 February 2015


The role vocabulary plays in reading and content area lessons is not the same. In fact,  there are important differences between the two.  For example, the words temerity and fulcrum in a novel do not relate to each other. Therefore, understanding the meaning of one and not the other in the book has little impact on the readers’ comprehension of the entire text.

However, in a content area, words are related to concepts and are often related among themselves. Take for instance the words atom, neutrons, protons, nucleus and electrons. These words are necessary to know in order to understand the concept of an electron cloud. Therefore, students need a thorough understanding of content vocabulary because these words are labels for important concepts. Acquisition of  the meanings of these words is necessary in order to learn further concepts.

Furthermore, the word nucleus in Chemistry is different from the word’s definition in Biology. This is because each discipline has its own language or technical vocabulary that students must learn in order to comprehend specific content-area information.

Another  essential consideration is that content vocabulary consists of many low-frequency words that do not appear in other contexts.

All the differences mentioned above leave no doubt that  a  different approach to vocabulary instruction in  content areas is needed, mainly  one which enables students to integrate  new terms with what they already know. Apart form this, vocabulary instruction in content areas has to ensure that new terms are  taught and retaught in multiple contexts and allow students  to use these  new terms in ways that are meaningful to them as often as possible.

Content area teachers can get considerable help from language teachers if they provide them with information about the vocabulary  strategies that work in their English language classes, so I suggest that English language teachers should carry out a simple survey among students so as to make them aware of  the vocabulary strategies they are using and  the need to use some they are still not familar with.

Experts on strategies that lead to effective acquisition of the subject-specific vocabulary have to be known by content area teachers:   Keith Kelly provides us with excellent resources so as to work on vocabulary in Science and Geography  in three different stages:

- Working with words

- Working with sentences

- Working with texts

For those of you who wish to have a bank of basic vocabulary  strategies that can be used in any content area, this file can be very useful. I will try to show you how you can adapt them to your specific subjects in our next session together on February 10th.