About Julie Coiro

Empowering Struggling Readers in
Grades 4-6 with Technology

Computer Supported Reading Environments

Presented by Julie Coiro
SERC, March 21, 2002

Computer Supported Reading Environments 

CAST's Thinking Reader

For the past three years, in a project funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, CAST has been investigating how to build a computer-supported reading environment that scaffolds students' ability to read for understanding.  The project is based on the reciprocal teaching method that uses four strategies - summarizing, predicting, questioning, and clarifying - to help students engage in a dialogue about their reading and become active participants in their learning. 

Let's take a look at some of the supports that this software offers to challenge and support readers as they interact with text. 

  • accessibility features (text-to-speech, glossary, etc.) 
  • instructional strategies embedded within authentic literature
  • prompts like during guided reading (ask questions, predict, visualize, summarize)
  • varied levels of support to meet various needs
"Support the learner rather than simplify the dilemma."
Jonassen & Land (2000) Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments

What are the results

  • Learners are more engaged with texts than students with no computer support
  • Learners are motivated and interested when given different flexible supports
  • Learners appreciate being in control of how much support they receive & how to respond
You can read more about CAST's Thinking Reader Software and in the article Curriculum Access in the Digital Age which describes the program and it's use with middle school students.

Instructional Practices Grounded in Research
Computer Supported Reading Environments
Inspiration as a Software Literacy Tool
Anticipation Guides 
Discussions with One
Classroom Computer 
Fostering Literacy Connections Online Literacy Software Support Tools Related Resources 
for Teachers