“Mi viaje” is a web quest in which students plan a seven-day, six-night trip to a Spanish speaking country of their choice. I designed this project in 2004 for a graduate class on incorporating the Internet into the classroom and have been using it every year since to replace the traditional report that my students have found boring to write and, quite frankly, I find boring to read and grade.
With the URLs for needed websites embedded in the text, “Mi viaje” takes the students step-by-step through the entire process of international travel, which includes applying for a passport, finding actual available flights, hotel rooms and even rental cars. Students are required to find real restaurants to eat in every day in order to learn about the food of the country. They must find a minimum of three activities a day, one for each morning, afternoon and evening they are in the country in order to discover what the country is really like today.
Students are not held to a budget as the focus of the project is to learn about the country and we all know adhering to a budget can be very frustrating in real life. However, the students are provided with an expense sheet to keep track of the money they “spend” in order to get an understanding of how expensive it can be. Students learn about the different currencies and the exchange rates by using a currency converter as all figures in their expense sheets must be in US dollars.
The focus of the web quest is to learn about the country, so the students write a detailed itinerary of their trip. They must account for their time throughout the day from the time they get up until they go to bed. In the itinerary they are expected to describe the activities and restaurants in order to prove they read the Internet materials and learned about the country. The itinerary replaces the report no one wants to write or grade. Since it is written as a schedule of their day, the students find it more appealing to write and yet they still learn.
Students use Google maps to check driving distance between activities and restaurants to ensure what they are planning is physically and geographically possible, which in turn gives them an idea of the size of the country. Students also compose a packing list for both checked luggage and a carry-on. They also prepare an informal reference list to keep track of the web sites they use.
In conclusion, the students answer four questions to summarize the experience. They prepare a five minute presentation of the highlights of the trip they planned to share with the class. Students also prepare a visual to enhance the presentation. All materials, both student produced and Internet printouts, are collected and organized into a three-ring binder.
Included here are: the 20 step web quest, a list of the Spanish speaking countries, an expenses sheet, a project/presentation requirements list, a score sheet for the binder and a rubric for scoring the presentation.
As I said, I have done this project with my students for years. Some have been so proud of their hard work they have included their binder in their display for their graduation party!