9 Comments

  1. Once again, I find the most interesting and relevant things on your blog, Phil. I am more than a little thrilled to find another big picture thinker! I too have slammed into the same problem with reading on the web with my library research classes. Two thoughts I read about in a Writing for the Web 3.0 by Crawford Kilian a former teacher from Capilano College, is that reading on the computer is not the same as reading in a book because 1. the screen resolution is not like reading on paper and 2. the distance between the screen and reader is too far. You do not hold a book at arm’s length away from you. So you have those 2 things to start with, before even getting to the appropriate reading level, (and finding these sites is a huge challenge), bundling into a custom Google search (which you have to put somewhere) and all the other skills…. Really like your thoughts on the skill set needed. Modeling and constant practice are absolutes! For non-fiction comprehension we are looking at Adrienne Gear’s Reading Powers for Non-Fiction. Just a thought to share. Cindy

    • You are the second person in as many days to draw my attention to the additional difficulties of reading on a screen that is a different resolution and further away. I had a conversation the other day with an amazing educator at my school and she suggested that maybe the first step to teaching reading on a screen is to print out information from a website and have students practice skills like skimming, scanning, looking for key words etc. on paper with a pencil or highlighter before they try them on a screen. The more I think about it the more I like the idea.

      I’ve also been wondering lately whether it takes different skills to read a blog vs a wiki vs a plain web page vs a forum etc and if these need to be taught differently. What do you think?

      • Sorry for the delay, Phil. Too many courses, too little time in my day.

        I did exactly what the teacher at your school suggested. I printed out the information and we used highlighters and used a 3 word key note taking system to record information.

        You’ve got a very interesting thought about the different skills needed to read blogs vs wikis vs plain web page vs forums. One thing mentioned in Kilian’s book is length of sentences, number of sentences and the extra bling on the page when reading online. It would seem logical that it would take different skills to read these various texts online, thus needing to be taught somewhat differently. I also think it takes practice to read online, going from short, simple text to longer more complex text just like learning to read in print. So we have to rethink what we might want to have say grade 7 students read online. They may read at a grade 7 level in print, but online reading levels might need to be adapted somewhat for total article length, sentence length and extra flash and glitz that interferes with comprehension, as well as the type of site the text is in. Make sense?

        Cindy

        • Hi Cindy,
          I’m intrigued that you tried teaching your students online reading skills using printed material first. You beat me to it! How did it go?

          I am considering trying to break down the different skills needed to read a blog vs a wiki vs webpage vs forums in a google doc. Interested in being a contributor?

          I’m a little short of time for a proper reply at the moment but I wanted to share a link I just came across http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i04/04b01001.htm.

        • I only resorted back to printed material because of the Kilian book I just happened to be reading at the time. I was having difficulty with one of the classes. The kids were not able to read even a short 2 paragraphs from Britannica Online and put the info into an Inspiration web. It went much better when I printed the page.

          Love to contribute. An incredibly interesting topic. I’m absolutely positive there is a different set of skills required for the different web applications.

          I thoroughly enjoyed the Nielsen article. Many of the points brought up in that article were also brought up in Kilian’s book. Nielsen states, “I continue to believe in linear, author-driven narrative for educational purposes….” I agree, but the point to using Web 2.0 tools is to match the tool to the lesson being taught. The tool has to fit the job, so to speak. The tool is not the teacher. Maybe webpages aren’t the right tool for teaching humanities. Reading for information might just be plain ol’ better in a book. I personally do not like reading online and print my research docs for SFU and UBC.
          Oh, and here’s a thought, how does font play into what is being read online? Does it make a difference when fonts are changed. I happen to find the one in Nielsen’s article really annoying. Graphic artists pay very close attention to fonts in terms of how they convey a message. Just a thought.
          Cindy

  2. Hi Phil,
    A couple of books you and your staff might look into if you haven’t yet are Web in the Classroom, Meaning in Data and Digital Expressions. These books were written by teachers from SD #44 and the books are available from Queen’s Printer. Let me know if you want more info. The first, Web in the Classroom, is all about information literacy and how to ‘read’ a webpage, how to evaluate web page content, etc. It’s an excellent, teacher friendly resource.

    I wanted to comment on your last post but it’s been a busy week! I did the same sort of presentation to various parent and community groups where I live last year. Your material sounded a lot like mine! I’m glad it went well and I’m also glad to see that other teachers are working to communicate the importance of information literacy beyond the classroom.

    • Thanks for the resources, I will look them up. It’s encouraging to hear that your presentation followed the same general theme as mine, how was the response? I only had about 12 parents show up and am trying to figure out how to get the word out to more of them.

      • The response was very good, but I had to work for it. First I asked to present at the First Nations Education Coordinators meeting (there are several different First Nations Bands in and around my community). I showed them a shortened version of my presentation and told them I’d be happy to go out to their communities and share that information with their members. They really liked the fact that I was willing to go to them as opposed to expecting them to come to me. As a result, I was invited out to two of the reserves. At one meeting there were probably 30 people and at the other there were 120! The neat thing was that the people attending were of all ages, from newborns to elders, students to chiefs. And I have to say, the traditional food served was amazing!

        After those presentations, I spoke to two PAC groups (another 20 people) at our local elementary schools and I presented at the local Friendship center to another 12 people. Each time I printed out the handout version of my powerpoints so that people could take the information home with them to communicate to even more! I also advertised through the school newsletters, the newspaper and word of mouth (works well in a small town!). I should add that my presentations were one part of a field study I did on information literacy for a graduate diploma, so I was very motivated!

        • Wow. That’s an impressive number of people Errin. My current plan is to post a modified version of my previous post on our school intranet in the hopes of interesting more parents in the topic. I have also started a parent support wiki at parents21c.wikispaces.com, we’ll see where that goes.

          Any chance I could get a copy of your PowerPoint presentation?

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