Gardens, Geometry, and WebQuests

By: Anna Mae Flynn, Melanie W. Greene


Are you looking for an effective way to educate this generation of youth who thrive on technology? Try WebQuests!

WebQuests are online learning tools linking students to content and resources that are interactive and visually stimulating. At the same time, they help students develop critical thinking skills. They can meet a variety of learning goals, such as solving a particular problem, designing a physical space, commemorating a person or event, deepening an understanding of literature, or experiencing role playing.

We created an online WebQuest for a mathematics unit on geometry that guided seventh graders in discovering the various techniques, measurement tools, and formulas needed to create a landscape garden design.

We divided the class into five groups of five members each. Each group had a team leader, shape resource leader, paper construction model leader, time management leader, and a speaker. Students found links to individual roles on the Task page that explained what each member of the group was responsible for completing during the WebQuest.

A Process page provided detailed information about the project, including simple steps that were easy for students to follow. Using what they had learned about geometry, they designed a blueprint of a school garden plot using specific shapes (polygons) within a specific area/perimeter. Although we provided instructions on how to measure a school ground plot, the students determined how they would design and maximize use of the area.

Working in their groups, the students clicked on links to review geometry terms, play interactive learning games, and view video clips of middle school students designing and creating gardens.

When students were finished with the WebQuest, the Conclusion page reminded them of the intent of the WebQuest, highlighted their achievements, and informed them that they were to prepare a final oral group report about their blueprint. At the end of the group presentations, students voted for the best/most reasonable garden blueprint design.

We assessed students on five aspects of the project: blueprint design, students' roles, creativity, and overall attitude and performance. A rubric included individual and group accountability for the completion of the task.

Online learning seems second-nature to today's young adolescents, so it makes sense that they enjoy WebQuests. There are plenty of resources online to get you started. Begin at http://webquest.org. To visit the geometry WebQuest highlighted in this article, click on https://sites.google.com/site/flynnswebquest/


Anna Mae Flynn is a mathematics teacher at Squaw Valley Academy in Lake Tahoe, California. E-mail: flynn_annamae@yahoo.com

Melanie W. Greene is a professor at Appalachian State University in the Middle Grades Program. E-mail:
greenemw@appstate.edu
Copyright © 2013 Association for Middle Level Education

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