Mrs. Ryan's Class

A Digital Learning Hub for students and parents

ORMS: Online Reading Comprehension

on July 28, 2015

In the journal entry, Reading Digitally Like a Historian: Using Multimedia Texts to Facilitate Disciplinary Learning from The Connecticut Reading Association Journal • Volume 1 • Issue 1, Michael Manderino writes, “Multimedia sources like audio and video clips, flash animation, and an array of images and pictures found online can expand the number of possible meanings students can create. When teaching with multiple multimedia sources, meaning creation becomes much like the kind of sense making students use in their everyday lives.” This sentiment ties into our previous discussion of the ORMS Model in that using online texts provides students with a greater likelihood of connecting to and creating meaning from the material we are trying to teach as educators. This will create the type of self-directed, intrinsically motivated students that we want (and need) in our classrooms and in our world.

Part of teaching students online reading comprehension is teaching students to become more critical of the resources they are encountering – this will take teaching and practice. We need to teach students how to decipher legitimate sources from those that may not be reliable or accurate. This is a skill that is essential for students to learn to become critical consumers of information, both in print and online.

book google

We have discussed the benefit of having students work together through online collaborative inquiry to discover knowledge and create a representation of their knowledge- but we can use this same collaborative inquiry to encourage students to be critical consumers of online materials. Since the teacher may not be selecting approved/accredited sources when students are reading online, the students need to have the skills to determine the validity of resources on their own. This is a life skill in our increasingly digital world.

In Chapter 9: “The Web as a Source of Information for Students” in K–12 Education from Handbook of Research on New Literacies, Kuiper & Volman write, “Younger children, in particular, tend to take the information found on the Web literally and are not yet able to question the authority of such information (Hirsh, 1999). Children also often lack sufficient research strategies that can help in the process of distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information.” (p.257) This brings us to perhaps the most important questions to ask when thinking about online reading comprehension; how can we teach students the skills to develop strong online reading comprehension in the ever changing world of the internet?

This question reminds me of how I was trained to teach reading workshop in an elementary classroom. In reading workshop, the emphasis is on teaching an explicit strategy as part of a skill that students can practice in any book. We DO NOT teach “to” specific books, or focus just on one character, though teachers are able to model examples of the strategy using a shared text.  When teaching students to develop online reading comprehension, (just like in reading workshop) we shouldn’t teach a concept that is directly related to one specific online resource or digital tool, but instead teach students a clear strategy to develop an online reading comprehension skill. This specific and explicit way of teaching allows students the opportunity to practice and apply skills across books (or digital resources) and eventually learn that the skills are transferable and applicable. The hope is that students are eventually able to apply these explicit skills to their own reading/learning independently.

Here is one strategy that I brainstormed to teach students how to determine the source of an online resource:

Step 1: Look at the web address. Ask yourself, does this end in “.gov” or “.edu”? These are likely trusted resources.

Step 2: Find the name of the author. Do a quick google search to see what you can find about his/her credentials. Is  he/she from a trusted organization (government agency, publishing company, news source)

Step 3: Look for a reference to an affiliation with a trusted organization in the body of the text, the header, or the footer of the site.

Step 4: Look at the title of the webpage/article. Ask, “Is this an article that is part of a published text?

Step 5: If you are still having trouble locating the source, try to navigate to the “home” page of the website to find more information.

Online reading comprehension, like print reading comprehension, needs to be taught to students explicitly using clear strategies to develop skills. We must teach students transferable skills that can be applied throughout their lives as consumers of online and multi-modal texts.


3 responses to “ORMS: Online Reading Comprehension

  1. wiobyrne says:

    Great post. I especially like your intersection between the self-directed learning in ORC and the collaboration in OCI. How can we help students make this transition?


  2. deanpelligra says:

    Would be great to use this strategy with your third graders, Nicole! If students are taught early about evaluation and navigation, they will have a better chance of retaining this valuable information.


  3. nicoleryan2 says:

    Thanks, Ian and Dean! I really believe that kids need to be taught specific, transferable skills in order to be successful and apply skills independently. This addresses Ian’s question about the transfer of skills from OCI and ORC. I believe that if we teach skills of inquiry and self directed learning and collaboration, we can introduce critical online reading skills as a way to “build” on these skills. When information or skill building becomes connected and purposeful, students will be more likely to value, understand, and practice these skills independently.


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