Teaching Online Reading Habits

Here is an area that I am weak in as a teacher — how to successfully guide students to read accurately and appropriately on task and with clear reading intent when it comes to online documents that integrate multimedia, hyperlinks and more. I was thinking about this yesterday as I was reading through a research article co-written by Dr. Donald Leu, who is one of the main leaders of a New Literacies Institute that I am taking part in next week as a teacher-leader.

The article is entitled New Literacies and Online Reading Comprehension and it quite interesting. The authors note how quickly the world of literacy has changed, and how we don’t really know all that much about how young people are learning not just to navigate content online, but how to read and comprehend the information there. Like many of you, I talk to my students about authenticity of content — to be critical readers online — but I don’t often guide them through how to read a webpage or a multimedia document.

Why is that? Do I think they just know how to do it? (a rationale that too many of us teachers make when it comes to kids and technology) I don’t make the same assumptions when it comes to thinking about theme and character development and point of view when it comes to our novels? Why don’t I do the same for the world where they spend most of their time — the online space?

The authors of this study adapted a reading comprehension strategy called Reciprocal Teaching, which has steps that move from teacher-centered work towards independent student work, and it seems to center around making reading comprehension strategies visible through talk-outs and other activities. Their Internet Reciprocal Teaching method does the same, through guided reading and questions around online reading activities with a push towards student inquiry around what they are reading.

In the article, the authors point to the difficulty of assessment, but give out two resources. The formative assessment tool known as Formative Assessment of  Students’ Emerging Knowledge of Internet Strategies (FASEKIT). It is referenced here in this book, but I could not find an actual tool online (kind of odd, eh?). This has to do with students verbalizing the strategies they use when they go online to read or encounter text. A performance-based assessment can also be developed along the lines of multiple choice and short response answers, according to the authors, who cite the ORCA test as one model (which I am not familiar with, but may be in line with the concept of the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark System?)

So, I look forward to chatting with Dr. Leu next week and maybe, even as a teacher-leader at the institute, I need to come up with my own action plan that puts some of these ideas into motion for next year.

Peace (in the mulling of ideas),

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