Literacy Quest Using Blackboard Technology
Roberts, Cherie, Walker, David E., Bobak, Regina A., Distance Learning
Scavenger hunts began as traditional activities for fun at family reunions and birthday parties; everyone was provided with a list of objects to find or to acquire within a set limit of time. Progressive educators saw the hidden value in scavenger hunts and began giving students directions and clues to help them explore and, at the same time, enjoy the various aspects of educational inquiry.
Scavenger hunts are only as limited as one's imagination. Moorefield (2003) used a newspaper scavenger hunt as a method to entice her students to research current events for social studies. Feldman (2004) suggested using a newspaper scavenger hunt for teaching items such as grammar (verbs), math, and events of a scientific nature. Some educators adhere to the tra- ditional mode of using a scavenger hunt by creating a "field trip" within their school grounds to conduct their 100th Day of School celebration (Clark, 2003). Fones (2000) designed a scavenger hunt that encouraged team building while searching the school grounds for science-related data. Other teachers have used scavenger hunts as a fun way to introduce students to different types of reference books such as the almanac (Miller, 2003).
Forward-thinking instructors soon meshed computer technology and the Internet with scavenger hunts. Many educators, such as Chalmers (2003), saw the need to teach students methods for locating Internet resources and found the game of scavenger hunt to be a non-threatening means of developing research skills. These new abilities were honed by a scavenger hunt that challenged students to investigate their local library as well as Internet search engines.
LITERACY QUEST MESHED WITH BLACKBOARD TECHNOLOGY
Combining a scavenger hunt with computer technology can be done at all learning levels - elementary through college. The Teaching of Reading in the Elementary School course is designed for junior and senior pre-service teachers. For this instruction, the decision was made that students needed a project in which they would use their Internet research skills to find predetermined criteria that meshed with the course's content. Because the Internet sites and articles had already been selected by the professor, the scavenger hunt was more appropriately designated as a Literacy Quest. Project goals fit the following criteria: engage and introduce students to specific Internet material that could be used for creating reading unit lesson plans; expose learners to current research and quality children's literature; review relevant material in their textbooks; and provide them with opportunities for independent work. The most interesting facet of this Literacy Quest was the unique utilization of Blackboard (Bb) technology. The instructors wanted to control the release of each of the three sections of the Literacy Quest, as well as provide a place for the students to submit their material and take online quizzes related to the Literacy Quest.
The Literacy Quest was divided into three sections called tiers: One tier was a web search; a second tier consisted of a search within their textbook; and the final tier provided students with opportunities to search for a specifically assigned journal article. Tier One, the web search, required the students to visit three specific sites: www.readwriteandthink.com, www.proteacher.com, and www.ala.org. At the first two sites, the students had specific options for areas to search for lesson plan ideas and activities. Materials found at these sites were placed into a Word document and submitted as an assignment through Bb. Tier Two, the textbook search, was completed using an online Bb quiz. This tier's quiz contained questions related to information found in their textbook, as well as questions about award-winning children's literature found at the American Library Association (ALA) site. This inquiry was designed to expose students to the variety of awards given for children's literature. …