Community Story

Melissa Comer

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.

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Melissa Comer is an undergraduate and graduate literacy professor at Tennessee Tech University. Her methods courses relate directly to teaching English language arts at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels. As a former middle and high school English teacher, Melissa strives to make learning engaging through authentic practices. She encourages discovery learning, technology integration, standards-based lesson delivery, and time spent with a really good book. Beyond this, she considers herself to be a lifelong learner and feels strongly that teaching is a calling.

Conduct a mini-lesson reviewing the Think-Pair-Share strategy prior to the implementation of the Hints about Print interactive nonfiction text analysis activity.

Familiarize yourself with the Think-Aloud strategy in order to model the use of the Hints about Print interactive.