by Jim Laudisio, Williamsville North High School
This WebQuest is intended to be an activity for 10th grade English classes during their reading of William Golding's Lord of the Flies.
Why a Survival WebQuest?
The inital idea for this WebQuest grew out of my own apprehensions about teaching Lord of the Flies. Let's face it - this is not an easy novel, especially for 10th graders. The book could be said to have a number of strikes against it, in terms of student interest...
There are no female characters; it may be hard for female students to identify with the characters
The writing style and syntax are complex; struggling readers may have difficulty with comprehension, and more experienced readers may find the style dry
The book contains tons of difficult vocabulary words
The book operates on a symbolic level and derives much of its meaning from abstract concepts
The main theme (as stated by Golding himself) - "an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature" - is not exactly uplifting, nor particularly easy to grasp at first glance
That's why, in designing this WebQuest, I wanted to come up with a way for students to place themselves in the situation the boys in the novel find themselves in. If they can consider their own reactions and behaviors in a similar situation, they can more readily identify with the characters in the novel and may have more motivation to read thoughtfully. By working on the WebQuest concurrently with their reading, students will gain a "real-world" connection to the events of the novel as well as a deeper understanding of the issues faced by the boys trying to survive on the island.
There are several elements in this Webquest that require different skills of students. While the products are all writing-based, other modes of expression are being used as well. Here are a few of the ways that could work:
1. All activities require negotiation and cooperation between student partners.
2. Students must think critically in order to make decisions about the content of their products.
3. Students will produce text in several different genres.
4. The tasks are a mix of information synthesis and creative expression.
5. The tasks require students to construct, consider, and respond to essential questions about human nature, wilderness survival, and societal organization.