Internet Workshop is an instructional model that educates students on a newly emerging form of literacy, the Internet. The Internet has helped change our world into a global economy. This change requires students to acquire new literacy skills in order to be prepared for their futures. Some of these new literacies include "online reading comprehension to locate, critically evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information" (Zawilinski, Leu, & other members, n.d., How the definition of literacies are changing, para. 1). This Internet Workshop Instructional model incorporates these literacies, and therefore, helps our students to compete and succeed within our world.
The Internet Workshop model is designed to include four basic steps. These steps include: identifying and bookmarking an Internet site(s) that corresponds with an instructional topic; developing open-ended activities that encourage the study and analysis of the website(s); completing the activities; and through discussion, sharing the learning (Leu, 2002).
There are many benefits to using an Internet Workshop within the classroom. These benefits include the following:
- Fosters a sense of community through its collaborative nature (Leu, 2002).
- Develops new literacies and technological skills in the context of the curriculum(Leu, 2002). According to Kinzer (2003), “this electronic world is changing the way in which alphabetic literacy is used, and it also places new demands on children as they become literate.” Typically, literacy in the classroom has focused on the following building blocks: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, text comprehension (NEIRTIC, 2004). However, as the electronic age permeates our society, students need to be prepared for jobs that require further literacy skills. Some of these skills include the following (Kinzer, 2003, para. 15):
- Layout and design skills for creating presentations and web pages
- Critical thinking about video, still images, audio, text, and interrelationships, and how they jointly convey intended and unintended messages
- Skill in using a variety of software types
- Information gathering, retrieval, and copying into presentation formats
- Scaling images
- Incorporates flexibility and can be used with any age group and in many ways. "It may be used as a directed learning experience, a simulation, a center activity, or with many other instructional practices you already use" (Leu, 2002, p.467).
- Easily adaptable to facilitate differentiated learning (Leu, 2002).
- Facilitates higher level thinking through the use of open-ended activities (Leu, 2002).
When incorporating an Internet Workshop within your classroom, the following should be considered:
- Ensure equal computer time for all students. Teachers need to be concerned with electronic equity in the classroom. Just as children develop at different rates for the traditional literacy skills, so do they also develop at different rates for skills such as keyboarding and navigation. According to Leu, D., Leu, D.D., and Coiro (n.d.), some students who are either very interested in technology or have developed a fluency in these skills, can dominate classroom computers, leaving some children behind.
- Students are exposed to varying levels of technology. “The ‘Digital Divide’ refers to the gap between those who benefit from digital technology and those who do not.” ("Digital Divide," n.d., What it is, para. 1). According to Shireen Mitchell from Digital Sisters(DS), Inc., 29 million people in America do not have access to computers. Schools need to prepare all students for the global workforce and face challenges in incorporating the technology to achieve this goal. The Internet Workshop can be one tool that can be used to address the needs of today’s students.
4 How to Use It
The Internet Workshop instructional model is very flexible and can be used in many ways. This model generally incorporates the following steps:
- The teacher first locates one or more Internet sites that are grade appropriate and are related to the classroom curriculum. These sites are then set as a bookmark in order to limit Internet surfing and exploration of sites unrelated to the topic (Leu, 2002).
- The teacher will design an open-ended activity that encourages students to study and analyze the identified website(s). Gradually, these activities can become more independent and student centered (Leu, 2002).
- Students "complete the research activity" (Leu, 2002, p.467).
- Students come together as a group to share their findings on the topics researched. Through this sharing, it is the hope that new questions arise and insights develop. These sharing sessions can occur at the end of the workshop or at any other point (Leu, 2002).
5 Who Uses It
This instructional model is used by teachers in all grade levels to instruct their students on the new literacies in the context of the curriculum. According to Leu (2002) "Internet Workshop is not limited to the upper elementary grades; it may be used at every grade level, even as low as kindergarten" (p.470).
6.1 Example One
This Internet Workshop was developed for an elementary classroom in order to introduce a month long Patricia Polacco author study. During this workshop, students will have the opportunity to access Patricia Polacco's official website and record 3 accurate facts about her life. Students will record and gather this information on the worksheet below. This worksheet designates where students write each fact and provides space for them to explain why they found each fact interesting.
Patricia Polacco Internet Workshop
During today’s Internet workshop, you are first required to access Patricia Polacco’s official website. Then, you need to select the “author info” tab located at the top of the page and review each of the hyperlinks under “author info.” I would strongly suggest that you spend quite a bit of your time reviewing the “who I am” hyperlink. Once you have reviewed this information, select at least three interesting facts that you learned about Patricia Polacco. Record them in the space provided below and identify why you selected each fact.
To Get Started:
Use your mouse to click on the “Internet Explorer icon” located on your desktop and press enter. At the top of the page, using your mouse single left click on “Favorites” and in the drop down menu, single left mouse click on “PATRICIA POLACCO .COM.” At the top of Patricia Polacco’s official site, find the link titled “Author Info” and single left mouse click on it. Begin reading about Patricia Polacco by clicking on each of the hyperlinks on the page that appears.
Fact 1: __________________________________________________________________________
Explain why you selected this fact:
Fact 2: __________________________________________________________________________
Explain why you selected this fact:
Fact 3: __________________________________________________________________________
Explain why you selected this fact:
6.2 Example Two
This Internet Workshop can be used as an introduction to a scientific notation in a high school math class.
Welcome to the study and use of VERY LARGE and very small numbers!
What are we doing? We are investigating the use of very large or very small numbers in various disciplines. Why are we doing this? To begin our study of scientific notation.
How should I begin? Select an area of interest below. You will work individually.
Investigate one of the websites (and some of the links) and take some notes. Record your thoughts to the questions below. Be ready to share with the group. You will have 10 minutes for your investigation.
Questions to reflect upon:
- Did you know anything about this area prior to study? Why did you select it?
- Give a synopsis of how this area uses very large or vary small numbers.
- Prepare about 4-5 sentences.
- Be concise. Synthesize your information.
- Do not read your summary to the class - present it.
- Give us 2 facts about this area that are interesting.
- Did I view the website and some of the links?
- Did I understand how this discipline used very large or small numbers?
- Did I explain this concisely to the class?
- Was I able to provide meaningful facts to the class?
Approved websites for investigation
If you finish with time to spare - check here for more information on scientific notation:
- Digital Divide: What it is, Why it Matters?. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from Digital Divide: Ushering in the Second Digital Revolution Web site: http://www.digitaldivide.org
- Kinzer, C.K. (2003, June). The importance of recognizing the expanding boundaries of literacy. Reading Online, 6(10). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/electronic/elec_index.asp?HREF=/electronic/kinzer/index.html
- Leu, D. (2002). Internet Workshop: Making time for literacy. The Reading Teacher, 5(55), 466 472.
- Leu, D., Leu, D. D., & Coiro, J. Including All Students on the Internet. Teaching With the Internet K-12: New Literacies for New Times. chapter 11. Available at http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~djleu/fourth/eleven.html
- Retrieved April 16, 2009, from You-Tube: The Digital Divide Still Exists and its Worse Than We Know Web site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3ibP7cU0dQ.
- Zawilinski, L., Leu, D., & Other Members. "The C's of Change": An Extended Interview with Members of the New Literacies Research Lab. Available: http://www.ncte.org/magazine/extended