If you're unfamiliar with WebQuests, read this introduction first.
A Project For Passive Voice
Students select an aspect of society that has developed over the ages, then write about its progression. Since the focus is on why each event is important (and not on who caused it), those milestones should be expressed with the PASSIVE VOICE. Students will also comment on the state of their topic now and speculate on its future.
Choose Your Topic
Students should chose an area that they are interested in. Hopefully, they already know some things about the topic. Examples include:
Methods of Transportation
Methods of Spreading Information
Styles of Entertainment
Production & Distribution of Goods
Select the Milestones
What are the most significant advancements in that field? Students could brainstorm some ideas if they already know the topic well; otherwise use the internet to get some ideas. Students then select the five advancements they think are the most interesting. Write down each using the Passive Voice.
For example, if my topic is Methods of Spreading Information (including stories), my five points might be as follows:
Information used to be passed down orally from one generation to the next.
Some important information was recorded on parchment, but there were few copies, and few people were able to read them.
Once the printing press was invented, more copies of written texts were published and literacy gradually increased.
In the 20th Century, information was broadcast over radio and through television, making its delivery instantaneous.
For the past few decades, all sorts of information has been uploaded and shared over the world wide web.
In addition to listing each milestone, students should write another couple of sentences about its impact or on how the new status quo was different from the old. Or, perhaps, explain a limitation that calls for the following point (like I did with #2 above). Again, student may have to do a bit of research before writing this stuff down. Each of the five points should have its own paragraph.
What Now? What Next?
After writing five things about the past, students should write two things about the present. Perhaps one is how it’s good for society and the other is how it’s bad. Or perhaps one discusses why things are better than ever but the other highlights the limitations we still face. It’s up to the students. This is also the area in which students can express their own opinions.
Using the Passive Structure may not make sense here, depending on what the students want to express. However, as you review how they describe the current situation, look for opportunities to use Passive Adjectives.
Finally, write one thing about the future. This is not a place for personal speculation, but is instead a continuation of the webquest. What do experts believe will be the next advancement in the field? Again, the main point should be expressed in Passive Voice and should be supported by a couple details.
In the end, compare the full reports between students who researched the same topic. Did they choose the same five past achievements? Do they have similar assessments of the current state of things? Discuss with your class.
For more on Passive Voice, check out our Passive Forms Series. The Passive Voice can seem like an odd structure, which is why we’d like to share a method of turning an active sentence into a passive one in only 4 steps! Watch our short video to learn more. You can even go beyond the video with printouts, slideshows, and grammar guides, all designed to help teachers better reach their students!