About Julie Coiro

Critical Evaluation:
Scary Research Findings Prompt New Internet Reading Strategies


Presented by Julie Coiro
Assistant Research Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction
New Literacies Research Team, University of Connecticut
TRLD 2007 - San Francisco, CA

Welcome to the hands-on part of today's session!
Below you will find five activities associated with the online reading tasks our research suggests are particularly challenging for students who read to learn on the Internet. 

We will explore each of these individually or in small groups throughout the day, taking time to network with other teachers to reflect about how best to teach these new literacy strategies with your students.
You can read more about some of these strategies in Making Sense of Online Text, an article written by Julie Coiro for the October, 2005 issue of Educational Leadership.

After today, you may wish to explore an additional resource for evaluating online information and a wealth of other tools and learning modules created by the 21st Century Information Fluency Project

Challenge 1 - Evaluating Relevancy: Reading Search Results

Question: Which link is most useful?

Learning Objective: Evaluating Search Results
  • What clues do the words after the link give me?
  • Are the results in any special order?
  • Who sponsors the site?
  • What's missing from this list?
  • How do you know and Why is it important? 

Apply these questioning strategies to the list of search results in your handout. Try this activity with your students on paper even 2-3 times and then check to see how they transfer their new skills when reading online.


Challenge 2 - Evaluating Reliability: Investigating the Author

Question: Who created this website and what is his/her level of expertise?

Learning Objective: Evaluating Search Results

Locate the "About Us" link on each website below.  Complete the activity in your handout by following these steps:
(a) identify the name of hyperlink that led you to the website's creator;
(b) tell one thing you learned about the author;
(c) search off the website for the author's name and tell one other thing you learned about the author;
(d) is there anything about the site that appears to increase or decrease the reliability of information at this site?
(e) rate each creator's level of expertise from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

Challenge 3 - Evaluating Reliability: Investigating the Validity of a Website

Question: How do I know if the information is true? 

Learning Objective: Evaluating The Validity of Online Information

1. Work with your group to brainstorm strategies for evaluating the validity of information at a website. Create a list of these ideas in your handout.

2. See if you can determine if each of these sites is real or not real.  If you determined that it is real, what evidence do you have to prove it? If you think it's a hoax, how do you know for sure?

Site A: Boilerplate Mechanical Marvel of the 19th Century
Site B: Dog Island
Site C: True but Little Known Facts About AIDS
Site D: Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

3. Share with the larger group the strategies that helped you determine the validity of each website. Add to your own list any new strategies you learned from someone else in the group.

Related resources: 

Challenge 4 - Detecting Bias: Separating Fact from Opinion

Question: How does the author shape the information at this website? 

Learning Objective:
Evaluating the bias in information  (Level 1)

  • Detecting Fact vs. Opinion: Tell which website you think has the STRONGEST opinions about the use of sled dogs in the Iditarod. Tell whether you think the author of the website you chose is for or against racing sled dogs for competition. Select a quote from the website you chose and explain why you think it is an example of the author sharing strong opinions.

  • Detecting Bias and Considering the Author: Tell which website (Site A, B, or C) gives opinions from more than one side of the issue. Who are the two people whose opinions are given in the website you chose in number 1? What factors make these two people feel the way they do about the treatment of sleddogs ?

Challenge 5 - Evaluating Bias: Developing a Healthy Skeptism

Question: How does the author shape the information at this website? 

Learning Objective: Evaluating the bias in information  (Level 2)

Investigate each of the following websites while considering the answers to the following questions:
  • Who created the information at this site?
  • What is the purpose of this site?
  • When was the information at this site updated?
  • Where can I go to check the accuracy of this information?
  • Why did this person, or group, put this information on the Internet?
  • Is there anyone that might be offended by the information at this site?
  • Does the website present only one side of the issue, or are multiple perspectives provided?
  • How is the information at this site shaped by the stance taken by the creator of the site?

This site was created on January 28, 2007