Using the Internet to Facilitate Improved Reading Comprehension
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The ability to correctly make inferences is an important skill for beginning readers to develop, as it aids reading comprehension. This lesson uses a popular web-based technology, Really Simple Syndication (or RSS) feeds, to facilitate inferential thinking. Students use the clues provided by RSS feeds to predict the content of the linked post, article, or video. They use a T-chart to record and evaluate their predictions. Thus, the lesson combines several fundamental skills for reading success: inferential thinking, critical thinking, and new literacy skills.
RSS in Plain English video: This short video explains the concept of RSS and how it can help save time on the web.
From Theory to Practice
Today's students must be trained how to use new technologies as they serve an important role in the use of information and acquisition of knowledge.
- An inference is "the ability to connect what is in the text to what is in the mind to create an educated guess" (p. 62).
- Reading comprehension requires the ability to make correct inferences.
- Children considered at-risk for reading disorders exhibit difficulty with inferential language.
- Examples of questions educators can ask to facilitate development of inferential language skills include: "Why do you think that happened?" "What do you think will happen next?" "Do you know what that word means?" and "How do you think the character feels?"
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Computers with Internet access
- LCD projector (optional)
- Chart paper displaying a T-chart, with the headings "Our Predictions" and "Correct or Incorrect"
|1.||Ensure that use of RSS readers and online videos does not violate your school district's acceptable use policy. If use of these websites is prohibited, consult with your school district's technology coordinator to gain temporary access to these Internet sites.
|2.||To gain a better understanding of the use of RSS feeds, view the video "RSS in Plain English." Subscribe to one of the RSS readers listed in the Web resources section-either Google Reader, NewsGator, or BlogLines. Subscribing will create a model page for you to show in Session 1. Bookmark this page on your classroom or lab computers.
|3.||Visit several websites that are applicable to recently taught lessons and are appropriate for your students. For example, after teaching a lesson regarding the culture of a different country, you might visit the website for National Geographic Kids. Other examples may include using the website for The Children's Museum of Houston to supplement a science lesson or visiting Time for Kids to locate information that corresponds to a recently taught lesson in history. Subscribe to the website's RSS feeds using the RSS icon located on the website or through the use of the "add feed" option on the RSS reader you chose in Step 1. Bookmark these and the other sites listed in the Web resources on your classroom or lab computers.
|4.||If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve time in your school's computer lab for this lesson. If you encounter technical difficulty during the lesson, an alternative way to utilize the lesson content would be to display printed screenshots of the RSS feeds to students through use of an overhead projector. Another option would include making handouts for students with screenshots of RSS feeds.
|5.||Make one copy for each student of the T-chart.
- Predict the content of a web-based article in order to strengthen their inferential language ability
- Evaluate the accuracy of their predictions in order to improve critical thinking skills
- Discover the usefulness of a web-based technology in order to extend their appreciation of new literacies
Instruction and Actvities
|1.||To activate background knowledge and create interest, ask students if they visit websites to seek new information. Ask students what websites they visit most frequently, allowing them to comment on their favorite websites. As students respond, ask them to be specific as to why they like the websites they do and to indicate how much time they spend each day looking for new information on the Internet.
|2.||Explain to students that there is an online tool that allows Internet users to save time when seeking new information. Show students the video "RSS in Plain English." After watching the video, ensure that students possess understanding of RSS by asking questions, such as:
|3.||Open the RSS reader website you created in Preparation, Step 2, then click on the RSS feed from the website you selected in Preparation, Step 3.
|4.||Hand out the T-chart to each student. Explain to students that they will predict the content of the post or article advertised in the RSS feed. Inform students that the ability to guess or predict the content of an article is an important skill for learning and reading in any subject, not just when using the Internet. Explain that making predictions helps to activate prior knowledge about a topic and may make understanding what you read easier. As an example, have students predict the content of the National Geographic Kids post, "Pandas, Kites, Acrobats & Other Cool Stuff" or "Experiencing Traditional Japan." Instruct students to record their predictions under the "My Predictions" portion of their T-charts. As a group, have students discuss their predictions. Record students' predictions on chart paper under the "Our Predictions" section of the T-chart.
|5.||Depending upon the reading ability of students and the reading level of the article selected, read the article aloud to students or instruct students to read the article independently.
|6.||Ask students to evaluate the accuracy of their predictions. Have students record on their T-charts if they believe their predictions were accurate or inaccurate. Ask students to discuss the group predictions aloud and record their responses on the chart paper. If students were incorrect, explain that thinking about the key words in the post or thinking about what they know about the topic may help in making more accurate predictions.
|7.||Use a think-aloud strategy as you model how to predict the content of the sample National Geographic post "Experiencing Traditional Japan" as follows: "The title says ‘Experiencing Traditional Japan.' I'm thinking the article must be about the country of Japan. The title also says ‘experiencing.' I know that to experience something, you have to do something yourself. So, I'm thinking the article must be written by someone who has either visited Japan or learned about Japan. The title also says ‘traditional.' I know that traditional means an old or accustomed way of doing something. So, I'm predicting that the article is about someone who went to Japan and learned about its history."
|8.||Have students discuss if they believe the RSS headline accurately depicted the content of the post or article. If students believe that the RSS headline inaccurately depicted the content of the article, ask them to develop a headline they believe is more reflective of the article's content.
|9.||Instruct students to repeat Steps 3-8 for an RSS post from a website you chose that corresponds to a recently taught lesson.
- Instruct students to compare and contrast RSS headlines to the titles of other literary genres (i.e., books or articles in a classroom magazine).
- After completing a reading assignment, instruct students to create a headline or title for an RSS feed.
- Create an RSS feed for the class or school website that would distribute student writing to subscribers (e.g., parents, administrators).
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Observe dialogue between students to ensure students are conversing about the selected topic and that predictions being discussed are logical. Redirect students’ behavior as needed. If students continue to exhibit difficulty making correct predictions, ask students, “What made you think that?” or “What word in the title did you use to make your prediction?” Reuse the think-aloud strategy described in Step 7 if needed.
- Collect and review students’ T-charts. Use the Student RSS Performance Rubric to assess the students’ mastery of the skills.