Magazine article Black History Bulletin

WebQuest: A Tool to Help Students Discover Contributions of African American Women during the Civil War

Magazine article Black History Bulletin

WebQuest: A Tool to Help Students Discover Contributions of African American Women during the Civil War

Article excerpt

   May those whose holy task it is,
   To guide impulsive youth,
   Fail not to cherish in their souls
   A reverence for truth;
   For teachings which the lips impart
   Must have their source within the heart.

--From The Journal of
Charlotte L. Forten, published
in 1953

Many African American women are recorded as having made a significant impact during the Civil War. However most students learn about only two of them: Harriet Yubman and Sojourner Truth. Despite their omission from the educational curriculum, there were countless others, such as Susan Baker King Taylor, Mary Elizabeth Bowser, Charlotte Forten, and Elizabeth Keckley, who were key figures in the Civil War era. (1) Conducting an exact search on the Internet for these women [putting each of their names in double quotes and the plus (+) sign operator between each name] produced the following results:

Name                       Number of Search

Sojourner Truth                1,380,000
Harriett Tubman                   50,900
Elizabeth Keckley                 50,700
Charlotte Forten                  48,700
Mary Elizabeth Bowser              4,410
Susan Baker King Taylor               32

These results indicate a strong need to teach middle and high school students about the importance of reputable Internet research, choosing websites that reflect fact-checked information and the need to publish these results to the Internet as annotated webpages. (2)

In this article, teachers are offered a WebQuest exercise that will teach students to 1) recognize a reputable website, and 2) create an annotated webpage of one of the important, but lesser known, African American women and her role during the Civil War. This is a lesson that could be taught in a social studies or a Web Technology/Web programming course.

Constructing the WebQuest

WebQuests are designed as Internet lessons to extend students' learning opportunities by going on a quest for specific information on the Internet. The WebQuest is usually designed and created by the teacher. WebQuest is a website with specific navigation features, wherein each link leads the student to specific information that is related to the lesson and found on the Internet. These navigation links also provide specific interactive instructions that the student follows, demonstrating to the teacher that the lesson has been learned.

WebQuests may be constructed using software such as MicroSoft Word or by using a template feature provided by WebQuest (located at Once the WebQuest site opens, click on the link "Create WebQuests" and scroll down that page to the section titled "Webpage Templates." Click on "The Original One-Page Template" (1999). (3) This template is very basic, but it will allow the user to very quickly construct a WebQuest by saving the template page under a new name to the desktop, then editing that WebQuest page using MicroSoft Word. Each area in the WebQuest template can be then highlighted and typed over with the appropriate lesson information.

Each link in the navigation area for this WebQuest template points to a section in the WebQuest: introduction, task, process, evaluation, conclusion, credits, and the teacher page. Each of these areas is highlighted and replaced with the WebQuest content for the lesson, as is shown in figure 1 in the lesson that follows which teaches about African American women and the roles they held during the Civil War.

Lesson Plan

WebQuests: A Tool to Help Students Discover Contributions of African American Women During the Civil War

By Jennifer Herring

Connections to Middle School

Students may be required to take a computer literacy course at the middle school level, as well as the traditional social studies course. This lesson plan integrates technology and social studies, allowing students to use a WebQuest to search the Internet and learn how to recognize reputable websites that offer factual information about the history of African American women and the roles they filled during the Civil War. …

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