Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Four Great Questions!

Julie Coiro (2005) in her article, Making Sense of Online Text, focuses on the literacy skills of locating, understanding and using information that is found on the Internet. She feels that digital literacy requires new literacy skills that need to be taught to all students. Struggling readers will encounter even more issues as they try to become proficient Internet readers because they tend to be more passive and have less prior knowledge to build on (2005). Corio, states the importance of digital reading is, “Because today’s students need to become proficient in using information and communication technologies to succeed both in school and in a knowledge economy, educators will need to consider how to teach and assess online reading” (2005). Many states use the NCLB technology framework but there are no states who currently assess online reading in their high stakes testing.

Reflection & Application: This article focused on four great questions that students should be asking themselves: which link should I follow, how do I navigate within a website, how do I know this is true and how do I synthesize without coping?

I would concur with Coiro that the first problem students encounter is which link should I click on from the long list of search results. I don’t think most middle school students even look at the information that follows the title of the link. She recommended a “stop, think and make predictions (2005)” approach. Students can look at the file extension, the topic, the purpose, the creator, the audience before they click on anything else.

I know my students do not do that and I will adopt her approach which sets the stage for clicking on the website and scan for text structures like headings, bold print etc. She has seven strategies for making a decision about a webpage (2005):
1. Read the title of the page
2. Scan menu choices—to get the big picture
3. Made predictions about where the links will take you
4. Explore interactive features
5. Identify the creator
6. How is this website set up---home page, linked pages
7. Make a judgement to go further or move on to another site
It is important often times to model this process, try it in groups before expecting students to do it independently.

Looking at the question of reliability and validity of sites she does a procedure similar to mine. I have a checklist that we use to check for reliability and validity. I use them on bogus sites, starting with ones that are pretty believeable like Dog Island Forever, California Velcro Crop and then to the more absurd ones like Northwest Tree Octopus and the Deflector Beanies. Most times student catch on pretty quickly that you can not believe everything you read!

The last question was an interesting on for me—how do I synthesize without copying? She allows them to open up a word document to copy and paste text citing the URL. I find that approach is kind of dangerous, students can’t remember what is copied and what they authored—too easy to plagiarize. I think I would ask them to set up a graphic organizer or make summaries along the way using text structures like headings or bold words.

I agree that Corio captured the four most important questions students need to be asking themselves and she has great strategies for both students and teachers. We are in the digital age and we need to make sure our students are equipped with 21st century skills when using the Internet to obtain information. Now we have to figure out how to assess online reading skills!

Reference: Corio, J. (2005). Making sense of online text. Educational leadership, 63(2)pp. 30-35.

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