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Minutes from ME


Frames Page Logo


In my continuing mission to persuade (cajole, inspire, encourage, or even compel) children to READ reference material on a web page, rather than randomly swoosh the mouse around the screen and click on anything "clickable". I use the frames feature of browser software to present both questions and a source of the answers on the monitor screen at the same time. The upper of two frames holds the questions document and the lower links to the web site being used for research. The student navigates through each frame, reading the questions and finding the correct answers.

Click here to view one of my subterfuges for concentrating students' attention on reference material about whales. In this example the frame of questions (with hints) and the web site frame are stacked vertically. Each frame can be scrolled separately and the students move back and forth between frames to complete the quiz.


Throughout the World Wide Web there are many scintillating web sites, such as the Zoom Whales one used in the example above, which contain interesting information in a friendly, easy-to-read format. Unfortunately such sites frequently contain scintillating and distracting advertisements too (as this one does). Make your own judgement on the suitability of reference sites. When the content is highly appropriate I find myself rationalizing its use with "Well distractions are everywhere, we'll expand the lesson to show how to deal with them". Perhaps a cop-out but there you have it - I'm guilty.


Two Frame Screen Diagram

The simple frame arrangement diagrammed here divides the screen into upper and lower sections.

Two documents are required to set it up:
the frameset document which defines the whole page (outlined here in green), and the questions document (outlined in red) which will be placed in the upper frame. A separate document for the lower frame (outlined in blue) is not necessary, the web site is linked in from the World Wide Web by way of its URL address in the frameset document.


The frameset page describes the full screen layout and allows setting of parameters such as individual frame size and whether scroll bars are used. the frameset for our example is -

<TITLE>WHALES Frame Set-up version 1</TITLE>
<frameset rows="20%,*" border="5" bordercolor=green frameborder="2">
<frame src="whaletop.html" name="Whales Questions" NORESIZE SCROLLLING=YES>
<frame src="" name="Zoom Whales" NORESIZE SCROLLING=AUTO>

(Notice there is no BODY tag in a frameset page.)

The frameset line of coding defines the frames layout. The rows designation of "20%,*" creates two horizontal areas (rows) with the first occupying 20% of the screen and the second (defined as *) occupying the remainder of the screen. There is a 5-pixel, green border between the frames and a 2-pixel border around the entire frame.

Each frame src line describes the contents of the frame. Here the first frame contains the HTML document (whaletop.html) of questions we create and the second frame contains the web page found by linking to the URL address in which describes whales. The NORESIZE tag ensures the frame size cannot be altered and each SCROLLING definition ensures that each frame can be scrolled up and down independently.

Save this document in text format with the file name WhaleSpec.html.


This document is prepared as described in First Steps in Browsing.
The complete coding is -

<TITLE>Directions & Questions on Whales</TITLE>
<BODY BGCOLOR="#ffffff" LINK="#000000" VLINK="#000000" ALINK="#000000">
<FONT FACE="Comic Sans MS"><FONT SIZE=+2>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>1. Where do whales live?<BR>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>2. What do whales breathe?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look in the yellow whale box.)</I>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>3. Are whales FISH?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look in the yellow whale box again.)</I>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>4. Do whales have hair?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look beside the pink box.)</I>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>5. Which whale is the biggest animal ever?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look in the blue whale box.)</I>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>6. Is this whale bigger than any dinosaur that ever lived?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look in the blue whale box again.)</I>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>7. How big is this whale next to a building?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look beside the blue whale box.<)/I>
<P ALIGN=LEFT>8. Which is the smallest whale? How small is it?<BR>
<I>(HINT: Look beside the blue box again.)</I>

This is a simple HTML document with black (#000000) text on a white (#FFFFFF) background in the Comic Sans MS type style which the children recognize easily. The questions are in plain type and the hints are italicized (I). Save this document in text format and title it WhaleTop.html.

Now make sure that both of the above documents are saved to the same folder, connect to the World Wide Web, open the file named Whalespec in your browser and set out to discover the answers to each question by scrolling through web site frame.


For understanding and embellishing frames the following web sites are very helpful.
Frames Tutorial,
Frames Programming Reference,
HTML Goodies Frames Tutorials,


We have used this frames example as both a cooperative learning experience with children working in pairs and for individual enlightenment.

Yes, it's inevitable that some children will scoot through the questions you have dreamed up and be finished in no time. So then make it a group endeavor by asking THEM to make more questions for the rest of the class to answer. Trust me, the questions they dream up for each other will be much, much harder than yours, even occasionally impossible to answer. So put your feet up, take a break and watch the children challenge each other!

Older children can work with a word processing(WP) document open at the same time as the web browser and key the answers in sentence form in the WP document as they go along. It's a good modeling experience for later research applications.

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