Case of the Missing Gator

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This lesson was designed for fourth grade students who are looking forward to being actively engaged in their learning. The topic to be covered through the Webquest will be: Solving the Mystery of a book: The Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo, and Florida Everglades Ecosystem. Students will solve a mystery case and become familiar with the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades. They will also understand the importance of the animals that live in that ecosystem, and how we should protect this environment.

The Webquest is intended for fourth grade students between the ages from 9-11 years old. The multimedia activity is geared towards fourth grade students based on the current Palm Beach School District New Generation Content Reading and Science Standards and the NETS. Students will be able to use research skills to locate, describe, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and comprehend Florida’s Everglades Ecosystem and solve a fictional book mystery case related to Florida’s Everglades. Learners will also be able to analyze the data and make informed decisions. Each student will utilize the Webquest at their own pace. Each student may select to work independently, or with a partner to assist each other with a particular section or activity. Peer tutoring can be offered for students with novice or limited technological skills.


The multimedia activity is geared towards fourth grade students based on the current Palm Beach School District New Generation Content Reading and Science Standards and the NETS.

LA. The student will read and distinguish among the genres and sub-genres of fiction.
LA. The student will identify and explain the elements of plot structure, including exposition, setting, character development, problem/resolution, and theme in fiction.

LA. The student will respond to, discuss, and reflect on literary selections, connecting text to self, text to world, text to text.


SC.4.L.16.2- The student will explain that although characteristics of plants and animals are inherited, some characteristics can be affected by the environment.

SC.4.L.17.4- The student will recognize ways plants and animals, including humans, can impact the environment.

C.4.N.1.1- The student will raise questions about the natural world, use appropriate reference materials that support understanding to obtain information (identifying the source), conduct both individual and team investigations through free exploration and systematic investigations, and generate appropriate explanations based on those explorations.

Technology Standards: NETS for Students:

1. Creativity and Innovation

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:

a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression
d. identify trends and forecast possibilities

2. Communication and Collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
a. interact and collaborate with peers employing a variety of digital environments
and media

b. communicate information and ideas effectively to peers and teacher
c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness

3. Research and Information Fluency

Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
a. plan strategies to guide inquiry

b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
d. process data and report results

4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:

a. identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation
b. plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project
c. collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
d. use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions

5. Digital Citizenship

Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior. Students:

a. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
b. exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
c. demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
d. exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

6. Technology Operations and Concepts

Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. Students:

a. understand and use technology systems
b. select and use applications effectively and productively
d. transfer current knowledge to learning of new tech

Technology Standards: NETS for Teachers:

1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation. Teachers:

a. promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness
b. engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources
c. promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:

a. design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity
b. develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress
c. customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources
d. provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society. Teachers:

a. demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations
c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats
d. model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning

4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. Teachers:
a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources
b. address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies and providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources
c. promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.

Performance Tasks:

• Through a Webquest, the students will gather information and subsequently analyze the information to solve the mystery of a book, reflect about how we can protect Florida’s Everglades, and provide solutions to prevent the extinction of endangered species. 

• The students will conduct a debate/oral presentation providing researched information, evidence, clues, solutions, and opinions about the topics.

 • The Webquest and face-to-face classroom interaction will focus around learners demonstrating their achieved knowledge about the Mystery genre and Florida’s Everglades ecosystem. 

• The student’s written work and oral presentations will be evaluated using teacher made rubrics that are posted on the Webquest.

Other Evidence:

• Through teacher observation and mid-project check points worksheets.

• Oral and written responses to Essential Questions using worksheets as a guide.

• Homework where students can continue working on the Webquest and reflecting or answering the Essential Questions on Edmodo.com

Suggested Resources:
 *Suggested Web sites such as:

  Beth Newingham’s Exploring the Mystery Genre Unit on Scholastics Website (http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/)

 *Florida Content Standard

 *Technology standards: NETS for students 2007

 *NETS for teachers 2008

Image from "The Case" student webquest page retrieved from (www.care2.com)

Image from "The Evidence" student webquest page retrieved from (www.travel.nationalgeographic.com)


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