Anatomy of a Web Quest

With in the past year or two I’ve written a number of web quests for various sites that I have done with my students. The ones I’m probably best known for are the found at Quaver Music Blog ,  This week I thought I would share what I think about when writing them. I have been writing web quests for a while now and found a couple more that were sharable (this weeks post is like a cereal box with a prize at the bottom of the box! :)) 

Usually you find Web quests as research project directions. They guide students around a series of websites to complete activities or research on a certain topic. I write web quests for my elementary school students as a “mission” staying on one website and providing a “to do” list of activities that focus on one concept that they might be working on. Making these web quests take some thought. You have to really know every inch of the site you want the students to go on and be able to get creative with each of the steps. Here’s an outline I use for writing them:


Concept: I try to keep it broad, gives me more options for steps.

Website: Choose a site with a lot of components so you have plenty of options for steps.

Introduction: I sometimes have one and sometimes I don’t depending on the quest. When I do have one it tends to be silly, over the top, and engaging for the students to draw them in to the quest.

Step 1: It is the simplest step out of all 3. This one I will make a simple find the answer or play a quick game. Really think about the level of your students through each step. Not only their level with the concept but also the level they are at with a computer. The inability to use a trackpad very  well can really slow a student’s progress.

Step 2:  I usually tend to make this step some sort of reading or building block to step 3. It sets the bridge from easiest to most difficult steps.

Step 3: This is the test to see if they have understood everything. For me, I usually write this step as directions to create their own music that covers the concept. This is the most time consuming step but usually provides a result the students will be proud of.

After you are done: The last step is just incase you have a few students who  whizz right through everything. Usually a game or a higher level of musical composition difficulty (If you’ve read my Quaver quests I haven’t put these in. I usually write these on the board later in the lesson after I’ve gaged where students are. I don’t want to throw too much at my little guys!)

 I’ve got a bunch of quests in a nice library, have your own and want to share? Post yours in the comments! I’d love to eventually build a little library of them for everyone.

…Want a little extra? Here are 3 never before seen web quests I’ve written for you!! -Composers

1.) I was a child star, I started playing and writing music before I turned 6. I wrote  over 600 pieces before I passed away at the age of 35. One of my famous pieces is The Magic Flute..who am I?
2.) I started learning to play the piano from my family before writing music. My most famous work is all about animals..who am I?
3.) I was in the Air Force before studying at Julliard and UCLA. I spent time as a jazz pianist before starting my work as a film composer. Some movies that have my works in the include: Harry Potter, Jaws, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars..who am I?
4.) Lets go play some Baseball! Join some of your favorite composers in a game of Beethoven’s Baseball!
Music does not always have to include instruments you know. Did you know your voice is an instrument too? Some songs only have voices in them, we like to call those songs Accapella
1.) Watch the video of the Accapella group Straight No Chaser . How many different voices do you hear? Do they all sound different?
2.)  Build a song without the main melodies in pink and purple. With just the building blocks playing is it still a song? Can you compose a beat that you could sing with that?
3.) Now it’s time to really build your group and get going. Use any of the dudes you want and share with Miss Dwinal afterward, can you beatbox alongwith these gentlemen?


    Debussy, Vivaldi, and Beethoven decided to throw a party while the shop was closed last night, those rascals! Now they have disappeared from their posts and are hiding some where in Quaver’s world. Can you help find them?

1.) Debussy‘s piano teacher thought he was a genius when it came to playing piano, while in school he failed many piano tests but when he switched his focus Debussy found he excelled at composition. Where would Debussy be hiding where he could compose at the piano? When you find it help him write 2 measures to start of his next masterpiece!
2.) Vivaldi is quite a character, his personality most certainly reflected in his music with so much contrast . Where can you go to learn more about him and his music? He must be hiding back in his own time! Find him and read more about his wacky personality in his book!
3.) We all know Beethoven lost his hearing when he got older, my hunch is he is trying to retrain those ears. Where will you find him? Go there and play some of the games with poor deaf Beethoven.
4.) Wow, you found all three of our friends! Reward yourself with a hidden composer slide puzzle in the shop.

Christmas Joy

After a week of two hours delays, sugared up children, and assemblies. I sit here with a smile, a heating pad, and a burrito the size of my head. It’s a great feeling to be done for a few days, get a break, and enjoy the holidays. Today I thought I would share videos off of my ever growing YouTube playlist that I have used with my holiday themed lessons this week.

Muppet Carols– I like to play quick games of, Guess that Carol! and have short sing-a-longs with these videos to teach my students the classics that they should know if they celebrate Christmas! and c’mon..IT’S THE MUPPETS!!

Carol of the Bells

Joy to the World

Twelve Days of Christmas (With John Denver)

Movement Break-  I love to dance in class and lately I’ve turned to YouTube to teach the students and I more dances, this video is from Just Dances Kids 2 and is a great dance to the tune of Jingle Bells.

Jingle Bells Dance Break

Shake Break – Have a class of sugared up kids that just cannot sit still? Try this shake break before moving on with the lesson!

Nutcracker- Teaching your students about the Nutcracker? Check out this video, it is a great example from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies 

Happy Holidays!

My Sister and I dressed up for the last day before holiday break!

My Sister and I dressed up for the last day before holiday break!

Frosty the Snowman Center

It has been crazy with introducing centers to my new 3rd graders and reminding my 4th and 5th how they go. This week has been some old favorites and a couple new favorites including this lovely Frosty the Snowman craft.


           This craft is easy enough to complete in 15 minutes. I have all of the materials out and ready for them to use.


  • Construction Paper
  • Coloring supplies
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Snowball stencils (Cutout from construction paper and labeled)

I came up with this center because I realized the sad truth..not many of my students knew all of the lyrics to Frosty the Snowman.

Here’s what was written on their instruction card:

1.) Pick a piece of paper, whichever color you like the best.

2.) Trace your snowman on to the paper using the stencils I left out for you

3.) Cut out a hat and some arms. Draw on your face like I drew on mine. Glue them in the right spots.

4.) You can copy the lyrics to Frosty right off of my example! Write yours in the background like mine.

5.) Finishing decorating your snowman anyway you want.

You will eventually acquire a pile of awesome Frosty the Snowmen:


   This new center was a total hit, some groups asked for me to put my iPad in between them so they could listen to the song while working, some even just started to break out into song. I even caught several students passing by me in the hallway singing it together. Copying the lyrics is a great way to memorize them and making artwork like this with it is not only fun but educational!


After everyone is done, you could have a hallway like mine! AAHH! Snowmen Invasion!!

Mozilla’s Open Badges

I recently spend time at NHCMTC or the New Hampshire Christa McAullife Technology Conference where I not only had a great first conference presentation ever but also attended some great sessions. One was from a friend of mine, John Martin who is a video game design curriculum guru. For the presentation I attended he talked about Mozilla’s Open Badges program . It is an incentive program for students giving badges for achievements instead of grades just like in the Scouts program.

I really loved this idea especially for music class. Listening to some success stories in the room this program not only works for high achieving students but also for misbehaving students as well. Grades are starting to really become meaningless to a lot of students, a letter or number on a report card isn’t as interesting as a colorful badge they can get in class for doing good work or achieving above and beyond the call of duty and show it off to everyone through the use of the Open Badge Backpack

Imagining the possibilities in the music classroom with this program got me really excited. I have lots of student who not only could use more attention because they love music and want to do more but also for those students who have behavior troubles and need a little extra attention with helping to make better choices. Students could work on badges for mastery of such subjects as basic theory, song composition, recorder black belt status, recording room master, or audio editing genius. Behavior students could work on badges for a certain amount of good work completed, participating, being a good example in class for a whole week, and much more.

There are a few programs out there that teach you how this program works and how to create badges yourself like P2PU Challenge and for those who want a management system to keep track of all your students that work with badges you can check out For All Badges 

I’ll be taking the P2PU challenge when my workload dies down and hope to try this out beginning next year on at least a small group of students, if you are interested in trying this out with me let me know or stay tuned to this blog for more!