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Melissa Comer

Melissa Comer


National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)



LaFollette, TN
Associate Professor

"An added bonus of sharing the Hints about Print interactive is that my students have discovered the wealth of information that is found on the ReadWriteThink site. They routinely surprise and awe me with fantastic lessons and strategies they have created based on inspiration gleaned from the varied material available."

Melissa Comer's Story
Thinking for Themselves: Using the Hints about Print Interactive to Evaluate Sources

As a university professor, I want students to get excited about making new discoveries, to think critically and creatively, and to apply their learning in a classroom setting. One way to accomplish these goals with pre-service and experienced teachers is through the use of the ReadWriteThink website.

Most recently, I have spent a great deal of time analyzing nonfiction documents with my students. Before any analysis can take place, however, I stress the importance of evaluating the source. I want students to question the texts they interact with: Are they valid and reliable? Do they aid in discovery? Do they support learning? Often, when I pose these questions, students struggle with responses. As a lover of learning myself, I want to help them arrive at the answers so I offer a great deal of guidance (let’s be honest, I all but tell them what I want them to know which negates the very act of learning and discovery that I so want them to engage in). Redefining my role in the guidance arena has been one that involves trial and error, success and failure.

In the "plus column" of success has been the introduction of ReadWriteThink’s interactive research tool, Hints about Print. Through a think-aloud strategy, I complete the Hints about Print on a text that relates to a topic under study. Note: I purposely choose one that I will eventually rate “use with caution” in order to show that not all texts suit our purposes. Next, I ask students to take part in a think-pair-share activity using a common text. Then, I initiate a class discussion about the entire process; including a dialogue about the Hints about Print tool itself.

As a result, my students are able to think more deeply about the nonfiction print sources they consider using not only in their own learning but also in that of their future students. Ultimately, the pre-service and experienced teachers reach conclusions about the nonfiction sources they select with little guidance from me. Instead, they arrive at the conclusions through their own active learning.



Related Resources

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Inquiry & Analysis

Hints about Print

Hints about Print demonstrates the process of evaluating a nonfiction print resource to determine its appropriateness for a research project.


Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Using the Think-Pair-Share Technique

In this strategy guide, you will learn how to organize students and classroom topics to encourage a high degree of classroom participation and assist students in developing a conceptual understanding of a topic through the use of the Think-Pair-Share technique.


Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Write Alouds

This strategy guide explains how to use write-aloud (also known as modeled writing) to teach effective writing strategies and improve students’ independent writing ability.


Story Highlights  

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

If a Body Texts a Body: Texting in The Catcher in the Rye

Students imagine the possibilities afforded by text messaging technology in The Catcher in the Rye; They compare and contrast major forms of communication, select points in the novel to represent with text messages, and share and discuss their creative work.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

It’s My Life: Multimodal Autobiography Project

Students express themselves verbally, visually, and musically by creating multimodal autobiographies, exchanging ideas with other students and sharing important events in their lives through PowerPoint presentations.


Grades   5 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Animate that Haiku!

Following the traditional form of the haiku, students publish their own haikus using Animoto, an online web tool to produce slideshows that blend text and music.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Using Glogster to Support Multimodal Literacy

Glogster, a Web 2.0 tool, supports development of students’ multimodal literacy skills. This guide outlines techniques for critical evaluation and creation of multimodal texts.