WebQuest Lesson - Cranes

Cranes    Hog Farming    Mapping the 2000 Vote    New Harmony Revisited    O.S.A.E. Skills    Water Debate

In partial fulfillment of

UNL Class CI 889

This document was last updated on 21 May 2001 (Ver. 1.5.1)

Flocking together : Cranes and Where They Are Headed

A WebQuest Lesson for Middle School geography teachers and their students

This is a work in progress !

This WebQuest Lesson can easily be adapted to Social Studies, Economics, and other disciplines

Introduction      Task      The Process and Resources      Conclusion      General Comments for the Teacher

Go to top

The Big Question
What is the future of the Cranes as their habitat continues to disappear?


For literally millions of years, sandhill cranes have lived in North America. Most scientists agree that these magnificant birds are direct ancestors of dinasours. What could they tell us of their heritage? What can we learn from their story? In this WebQuest Lesson, we'll try to uncover answers to these and other questions.

Introductory Activity

Ask the students if they have seen sandhill cranes or whooping cranes. Many students and their parents here in Nebraska have been fortunate to have seen cranes. The springtime (Northern Hemisphere case) has seen millions of cranes as they migrate from their southern habitat along the Gulf of Mexico through Nebraska, headed to their summer habitat in Canada.

  • Students will write out their crane experiences, if any. If they have no personal experience, they should try to find an adult who has experienced cranes and interview them for this part.
  • Go to top

    In this WebQuest Lesson, middle school students will...
  • study the life cycle of the sandhill and whooping cranes and their habitats
  • research the life of cranes and the characteristics of each species
  • comprehend the role the cranes play in local and regional ecology
  • interact with crane "experts" who can provide background information evaluate crane habitat and how people make it better or worse

    Go to top

    The Task
    In this Webquest Lesson, we're going to learn about two species of cranes: the sandhill cranes and the whooping cranes. We'll study the natural habitat of cranes, how decisions people make can change the environment, and how we can influence the decision-makers. We'll look at Special Interest Groups (SIGs) who study cranes or work with them and their habitat. Finally, we'll find out how SIGs influence influence those who help or hurt the cranes and their habitat.

    The Process

    From a Great Plains perspective, students will read background information about the physical characteristics of cranes, where they live, raise their families, and spend their lives. We'll look at pre-selected websites which will help us answer these questions. Then we'll summarize the content of each SIG and share our information with others in our team. Finally, we'll work as a team to complete a product which will show our teacher and decision-makers what we've learned from our research. If the reading level is too difficult, please ask your teacher for assistance.

    Sites which everyone will read are
  • Links to cranes and facts (Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)
  • Sandhill Cranes (NGPC)
  • Intro to the Platte River Atlas (Allan Jenkins, Ph.D. Department of Economics, UNK)

    This exercise helps familiarize you with the internet, search engines, and topic summary. After reading these sites, be prepared to share what you've learned with the class. Find out exactly what your teacher expects of you in this Lesson.

    Your teacher has found some appropriate sites on the internet for this assignment. You and your classmates will be divided into seven research teams, based on Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and their Roles in this Cranes Lesson.

    You and your teammates will be assigned one of the following Groups to research on this topic. Visit each of the URLs (Universal Resource Locator - web address) in your assigned Group and take notes on the main ideas from each place you visit on the web.

    Group 1 (Scientists : biologists, geologists, geographers - those who study cranes and their environment)

  • Rio Grande Nature Center
  • Sandhills Cranes' Staging Area
  • Spring Migration of Birds in Nebraska
  • Group 2 (Hunters, Fishermen, farmers and ranchers - those who spend times out of doors and influence cranes' habitat)

  • Professional hunters / fishers
  • Radar Productions "We know waterfowl !"
  • From Greater Canada Geese to Sandhill Cranes
  • Group 3 Environmentalists - (those who want to protect the cranes and their habitat)

  • Wings over the Platte
  • Rio Grande Nature Center
  • Birding and Sandhill Cranes
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY Ecological information concerning the Platte and other wetlands
  • Group 4 State, local and federal agencies - those who make decisions about cranes and their habitat)

  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Great Plains Region
  • Nebraska Natural Resource Districts
  • county or municipal planning board
  • Group 5 (Businesspeople - those who want to make money from tourism and trade)

  • River City Nature Chasers Wood River NE Crane tours/canoe tours
  • Follow The Sandhill Cranes
  • Group 6 (Citizens : students, retired people - who want to learn more about cranes)

  • Sandhill Cranes lessons created by Overton Public Schools
  • Crane Viewing Protocol If you are lucky enough to visit the cranes...
  • Land Trust Alliance The national leader of the private land conservation movement
  • Group 7 Miscellaneous

  • Overland-Trails list Historians who study emmigrant trails and crane stories
  • The importance of rainwater for cranes Nebraskaland magazine, March 1996.
  • While reading the content at these web sites, take appropriate notes on paper and in computer text files. Perhaps some of your team will research the sites while others might type the notes and prepare them for the next step. Be sure to check with your instructor for details. The study of cranes can be a daunting task, which is why you and your team have been asked to reseach only one SIG. The larger task of understanding this important topic has been chunked into smaller, manageable sizes.

    At this point, the issue which you and your team must address is
    What does your SIG contribute to our understanding of cranes, their habitat and their future?

    Print only the graphics (illustrations, maps and charts) which best describe the main idea. You are reminded of the Copyright Issues we've discussed. If you use information (facts, quotations and graphics) created by others, you must cite (give the author's name, the document's title, organization's name, URL, and date) in your final product. Again, you must obtain written permission to publish someone else's work. Your instructor can assist you in drafting a letter requesting permission.

    Each member of your team must now contribute what you have learned while visiting the SIG you were assigned. Share your knowledge with your teammates. Often the topic is so complex, you'll need to examine the details in order to reach an agreement in your team. To show your teacher what you've learned, you and your team must create a product (such as HyperStudio Stack, a tri-fold brochure, a poster, a game, a play, or an online document) to demonstrate what you and your teammates have learned from this activity. You must obtain permission from your teacher before you actually begin work on your product. At the end of this activity, you and your team will share what you've learned with the class.

    Go back to the Big Question and look for examples in which the websites (URLs) you visited actually address the Big Question. What are the main ideas? Are these ideas examples of fact or opinion? How do you know? After your idea for a product has been approved by your teacher, go ahead and work on it. Refer to notes on paper and on floppy disk. Try to make certain you have all of the important facts. When your product has been completed, your teacher will approve your final step.

    From the websites you've visited and the Real World Feedback lists shown below, select three individuals who are willing to receive your final product and to evaluate it for you. Confirm your potential list of recipients with your teacher before you contact these individuals. Work on this will all the members of your team. Your product will be sent by email or postal service to three people for their comments. You must contact three people and ask that they respond by email or in writing as soon as possible. Your teacher can help you create a letter of request to send them.

    Go to top

    Sources for Real World Feedback

    Your group's conclusion can be sent to the following places (after your product has been approved by the instructor) for comment and evaluations (See also March's list for more choices).

    Directory of Email list servers

    Web 66 International WWW Schools Registry

    Teacher contact database

    Pitsco's Launch to Asking an Expert

  • Conclusion

    Now that we've completed our WebQuest Lesson, let's answer this important question : Has this activity addressed the Big Question? What are the big ideas you've learned during this activity? After your internet research and the making of your team product, do you have a deeper understanding of this topic? Think about what you've learned. Did you learn new skills and new ideas? Write a one page summary of this WebQuest activity and what's it's meant to you. Give specific examples in your conclusion.

    Your teacher may have given you a feedback sheet or several URLs to submit your evaluation of this activity. Turn in the answers to the questions listed above and your final product and keep a copy for yourself.

    Go to top

    Back to Greg's Home Page     Back to Previous or Current Class Work     Other WebQuest Lessons

    (WQcranes.html)gen 21 May 2001      How this Lesson was made.