About Julie Coiro

Enhancing Reading Comprehension with Software and Internet Technologies

Day 1: Electronic Textbook Mapping

  • develop shared meaning of expository text structures that can enhance student reading and writing development in the content areas
  • develop shared meaning of the three strands of reading comprehension on the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) 
  • engage in hands-on small group exploratino of templates designed to empower students to visualize, organize, summarize and think critically about information gleaned from non-fictino texts
  • dialogue and network with other educators while exploring customized versions of lesson templates created with Inspiration software to use with your students
  • use Inspiration to construct an electronic textbook template that will foster higher level comprehension of expository text

Linking good readers with research
  • Keene & Zimmerman (1997)
  • Marzano, Pickering & Pollock (2001)
  • Judith Langer
  • Benjamin Bloom
Recognizing text structures
  • Comparison-contrast
  • Problem-solution
  • Cause-effect
  • Enumeration
  • Time Order
Electronic textbook mapping
  • Vocabulary
  • Sorting Ideas
  • Linking to Writing
  • Main Ideas &  Details
  • Thinking Critically

Day 2: Exploring Instructional Models for Using the Internet to Build Content-Area Comprehension

  • explore and critique examples of the "webquest" (Dodge, 1997) as an effective instructional model for comprehension
  • engage in hands-on small group exploration of online resources using the Internet Workshop (Leu, 2002) instructional model
  • discuss strategies for integrating higher-level comprehension strands from the CMT into webquests
  • develop effective and efficient search techniques for finding age-appropriate information for students on the Internet
  • use the online Trackstar tool to construct a short Internet Workshop activity for your students that builds reading comprehension and content-area knowledge


Webquests (Bernie Dodge, 1997) 
  • What is a webquest?  A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet.  Bernie Dodge believes webquests are "training wheels" for thinking and research that should ultimately be removed once students internalize the process of solving problems or completing "quests" using the Internet. Webquests are often complete teaching lessons and can engage students in either short-term learning activities or long-term projects.   Short-term activities result in some type of information acquisition and integration.  Long-term projects ask students to extend and refine their knowledge in some way.  Find out more from Bernie Dodge's Webquest Page. Webquest tasks can take many forms.  A taxonomy of tasks includes the following:
Retelling Tasks
Consensus Building Tasks
Compilation Tasks
Persuasive Tasks
Mystery Tasks
Self-Knowledge Tasks
Journalistic Tasks
Analytical Tasks
Design Tasks
Judgement Tasks
Creative Products Tasks
Scientific Tasks

Set the stage with motivater, overview or advanced organizer of what to expect
The Quest:
Clearly describe what the end result will be.
The Process:
Weave annotated resources with step-by-step support through the research or problem solving process...these are the training wheels that will one day be stripped away.  
Describe how student performance on both content and collaboration will be evaluated; leave room for some originality and match to standards...again, students can one day assume goal setting and evaluation responsibilities.
Summarize accomplishments and possible next steps. Encourage connections to thoughts about other content areas.

  • How are curriculum standards and individual needs addressed in this webquest...
    • accomodating individual learning needs, opportunities for sharing, appropriate and active links
    • link to standards, clear evaluation, how much time required
  • For our purposes, how are the comprehension strands for expository text represented in each webquest...
    • Forming an Initial Understanding
    • Developing an Interpretation
    • Providing a Personal Response
    • Demonstrating a Critical Stance 


Internet Workshop: Critiquing Webquests

Internet Workshop (Leu, 2002) is an instructional model for quickly integrating the Internet into the curriculum.  As an educational leader, you should become familiar with how it is used. Internet Workshop is especially useful to introduce students to sites for an upcoming unit and develop useful background knowledge. It is also useful to develop important understandings as you work through a unit. 

Internet Workshop has many variations.  Generally, though, it contains these steps: 
  1. Locate a site, or several sites, on the Internet with content related to a classroom unit of instruction and set a bookmark for the location(s).
  2. Develop an activity requiring students to use the site(s). 
  3. Assign this activity to be completed during the day or week. 
  4. Have students share their work, questions, and new insights at the end of the day/week during a workshop session. 
  5. More information about this instructional model is available at these resources: 

Internet Workshop: Critiquing Webquests from a Literacy Perspective
You will break into groups of four, choose a role, and use Internet Workshop to critique two webquests.  Use the handout in your training packet to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each webquest from your perspective.
Instructional Leader:  You value webquests that accommodate the needs and interests of all learners in your classroom and also those that provide unique opportunities for creative expression, collaboration, and sharing of original products.  You are also responsible for ensuring that all links from a webquest are appropriate and active.
Administrator:  It is your job to ensure that webquests reflect your district's curriculum standards and that students are evaluated using performance-based outcomes. To you, a good webquest is one that delivers the most learning bang for the buck.  Short term activities should teach one small thing well and long-term projects had better deliver a deep understanding of the topic it covers.
CMT Level 1 Assessor: You are responsible for determining which tasks, if any, within this webquest address the first two comprehension strands:  Initial Understanding and Developing an Interpretation.  To you, a good webquest should require students to gather and summarize important ideas, compare or contrast information from various sources, or interpret information from diagrams, charts and graphs.
CMT Level 2 Assessor: You are responsible for determining which tasks, if any, within this webquest address the last two comprehension strands: Providing a Personal Response and Demonstrating a Critical Stance.  To you, a good webquest should require students to analyze information, relate information to their own experiences or prior knowledge, take a position, or synthesize multiple perspectives.
Here are the sites you'll be analyzing:

Searching for Educational Resources: Strategies for Teachers
Beginning Strategies for Locating Educational Resources
  • Indicate the subject area or specific topic.
  • Use quotations to group two or more words together as a phrase.
  • Indicate Internet project, lesson plans, webquest, quiz, or class project using quotations as needed.
  • If level not appropriate, include the grade level or grade range in quotes (spell it out e.g. "third grade")
  • Connect all items, including the first, with a plus sign.  If search is too narrow, remove plus signs.
  • Look for keywords in annotations of links located from a similar search.
  • Follow links on one web site to locate other related links. 

Begin with:    "type of web site" +topic    OR      “title of book” +topic
Narrow down with:   + "grade level"  + topic   + "type of web site"



For information and activities about whales
(use any of these) 
  • whales 
  • "lesson plans"+whales 
  • "second grade" +whales 
  • webquest +whales
  • quiz +whales
  • cyberhunt +whales
  • -"pilot whale"  +whales (to not get pilot whale sites)


    TRY THIS...Use these search strategies to locate two more webquests related to your topic.  Take 15 minutes to preview these, keeping in mind all four of the roles above or using your webquest rubric on page 15 of your handout.

    What is Trackstar?

    With Trackstar, you can organize and annotate web sites into lessons called tracks 
    that can be viewed in specially designed frames. 
      Use the Trackstar Tool
    Classroom Examples
    • Activities focus on reading comprehension, literature, writing or content area topics
    • Preview the Trackstar Guide to help you use this tool
    • Search the themed menu to see what's already been created
    • Advanced users can even use the TrackPack to quickly gather & annotate new links
    • Language Arts Theme Search:
    • So...TRY IT OUT by logging in and then, if all else fails, use this template to help you. 
    • Use the Microsoft Word template to help you develop your ideas.  Then, you can just copy and paste into the Trackstar Online Form.  
    • Use the Extended Learning Question Prompts in your handout to help you stay focused on reading  comprehension as you write your task descriptions for each web link.

    This page was created by Julie Coiro in June, 2003.
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