Preparing an Instructional Lesson Using Resources Off the Internet

by DR. LAWRENCE A. TOMEI, Professor Duquesne University Pittsburgh, Pa. Take your students on a tour of the White House. Observe the Solar System without visiting the local planetarium. "Can't be done" you say? "Don't have the time or the funds?" is your response. Technology can provide the avenue for this exploration; actually, it can provide the Information Superhighway. An adventurous spirit is the key prerequisite, along with a little help to take those first tentative steps in preparing a classroom lesson using the Internet. This article describes the step-by-step evolution of "Exploring the Holocaust on the World Wide Web," a highly successful lesson presented to students from a local high school Social Studies class. Step 1: Design the Lesson Goals Lesson development begins by resolving a specific Instructional Goal that should be identified before "surfing" the Web. The Holocaust lesson began with the following information: Subject Area: Social Studies Teacher's Name: Mr. Tim Plosnik Grade Level: High School Juniors/ Seniors Length of Lesson: 3.2 hours Unit of Instruction: World War II and the Atrocities of War Specific Topic: Holocaust -- the Final Solution Instructional Goal: Promote understanding of the Holocaust and its implications in our lives today. Step 2: Conduct the Research -- A Methodology for Searching Web Sites Locating specific subject matter web sites has been made easier with search engines such as The key word "holocaust" returned over 240 potential locations, such as: Guidelines for Teaching About Holocaust Top Five Questions About the Holocaust Anne Frank's Amsterdam House The Children of the Holocaust The Cybrary of the Holocaust U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Bibliographic References. Lessons should not be based on data obtained from a single source -- even if that source is as rich as the Internet. The volumes of appropriate books, magazine articles and other reference materials found during the online search appeared unlimited. Other Materials. To augment the computer-based presentation, other materials were added to the session, including a videotape on the subject of racial discrimination, plus a Quick Reference Guide for Netscape Navigator and a list of selected Web Sites, all suitable for expanded learning opportunities outside formal classroom time. Step 3: Write Specific Learning Objectives and Lesson Content Learning objectives generally contain three components: behavioral terms, situations or conditions under which the behavior is to be performed, and the level of performance to be achieved. As an example, here are the Lesson Objectives, Content Items, Procedures and Assignments for the first objective in the Holocaust Exploration: Objective I: Using a personal computer and Web address list (condition), students will: navigate the Internet (behavior) locating two specific educational Web sites (criterion); explore selected sites (behavior) using two search engines (criterion); and, locate, download, and print (behavior) selected files from one site (criterion). Content Item 1: Netscape Navigator Web Browser Procedures: Identify Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), home pages, bookmarks; Demonstrate the primary window icons (Back, Forward, Home, Print); Demonstrate use of links (Blue and Red) Assignment: None Content Item 2: Internet sites of specific interest to Education Procedures: Locate specific colleges and universities (; Locate Peterson's Catalog of Colleges/Universities ( Assignment: Students will visit a campus of their choice (e.g., Notre Dame) Content Item 3: Internet search engines Procedure: Locate WebCrawler search engine (; Locate Excite search engine ( Assignment: Have students use search engines to locate subject areas (e.g., dinosaurs) Content Item 4: Downloading selected files from the Internet Procedure: Locate map of Washington, DC ( Assignment: Students will download and maps of the Washington, D.C. area For brevity, look at the remainder of the objectives used in the session. Content Items, Procedures and Assignments have been omitted. Objective II: After locating a given Web site, a student will review the information and answer the questions: "Why did the Holocaust happen? What were the world events that permitted such an atrocity?" The answer must contain information quoted and referenced from the Web site and be grammatically correct. Objective III: After locating a given Web site, a student will review the information and answer the questions: "What was the true magnitude of the Holocaust? Were the Jews the only group targeted for extinction by the Nazis?" The answer must contain information quoted and referenced from the Web site and be grammatically correct. Objective IV: After locating a given Web site, a student will review the information and analyze the images presented of the Holocaust to support or defend the thesis that the Holocaust never happened. Objective V: Using Internet search engines, a student will locate at least three additional sites pertaining to the Holocaust and select images, sound files and video clips of personal interest. Step 4: Design Student Workbook Student workbooks contribute significantly to the learning process. The questions posed in the Content Items, Procedures and Assignments portion of the Lesson Plan are compiled in the workbook to guide students through the lesson objectives. Critical components of the student workbook included: Student Name. Self explanatory. Date of Internet Exploration. Self explanatory. Instructions. Each student is given their own copy of the workbook and encouraged to cooperatively engage their fellow classmates in an ongoing discussion as Internet exploration progresses. They are instructed, as a minimum, to visit the specific sites identified in the workbook. Problems should be reported immediately to the teacher. Key Questions. Probing questions, along with targeted Internet site addresses where answers to those questions could be found, were added to this section of the workbook. Microsoft Word (or any integrated word processor) can incorporate the images and text found during the online research and produce a professional teaching product. An outline approach for capturing student responses facilitated the online exploration and promoted continued study. Lesson Evaluation. The final question in the workbook provided an opportunity for a student to evaluate the lesson's effectiveness. Step 5: Deliver the Lesson Agenda. The length of a session will depend on many of the usual factors: scope of the material to be presented, manner of presentation, and available time. To present an Internet lesson, class time should be increased to accommodate the commute time to the location of the computers -- be that across the hall to the computer lab or across the city to an available Internet provider. Incidentals. Since this was a field trip for the high school, appropriate parental signatures were secured before the children departed campus. In addition, a one-hour lunch period was built into the schedule along with two breaks. With all the publicity surrounding "inappropriate" sites on the Internet, the research conducted prior to the presentation of the lesson ensured that students were not exposed to offensive material. Delivery Format. The lesson began with a formal welcome to the School of Education. Students were acquainted with Duquesne's Multimedia Classrooms and received instruction in the use of their Power Macintosh 6100 multimedia systems, how to open and close files, and how to launch application programs. Microsoft PowerPoint software was used with an overhead projection system to deliver the lesson. PowerPoint offers three other acceptable forms of presentation: printed copies of the slides, overhead transparencies and 35mm slides. Each of these formats supports a pedagogically sound delivery format for K-12 presentations. Step 6: Evaluate Student Learning Proper evaluation of an Internet-based lesson is critical because of its fairly recent adoption as a teaching methodology. The student workbook provided ample opportunity for the teacher to evaluate student progress towards satisfying lesson objectives. On the last page of the workbook, students were asked to complete a questionnaire describing their success with the new format. The teacher also conducted a quiz following the students' return to campus. A Certificate of Attendance was presented to each student. Step 7: Conduct Follow-up Activities Duquesne's Multimedia Classroom afforded the teacher additional opportunities apart from online Internet access. In the same teaching facility, students viewed a videotape entitled "The Eye of the Storm" and discussed its theme of racial discrimination in the United States. Could the Holocaust happen again? Readers are reminded that the entire Internet-based Holocaust lesson was merely one chapter in a semester-long and diverse Social Studies program. Lawrence Tomei is the Director of Institutional Technology at the Center for Communications and Information Technology (CCIT), Duquesne University Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. E-mail: The complete package of "Exploring the Holocaust on the World Wide Web" is available either on diskette or a printed booklet from the author. The package includes: an unabridged version of this article; example resource materials obtained from the Holocaust search; a copy of the Student Workbook; complete set of Lesson Plans; a Quick Reference Guide for the Netscape World Wide Web Browser, a list of Selected Educational Web Sites; and the 10-slide PowerPoint presentation for $20 (postage include). Send requests to: Dr. Lawrence A. Tomei, Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15282. Please specify IBM-PC, Apple Macintosh, or printed Booklet format.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.

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