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Lesson 2: Exploring Types of Internet-based Texts

Updated: May 6

Objectives 

By the end of this lesson, students will: 

  • Understand that networks — whether they are networks of mushrooms or networks of web pages — include different elements that can be categorized and described by their distinguishing features.

  • Know that websites all have unique addresses called URLs; relatedly, they will know that different types of mushrooms are also distinguishable because of where they are typically located.

  • Be able to identify the features of five different types of Internet text: A Wikipedia Entry, A Food Blog, A News Site, An E-Commerce Site, A Non-Profit Site.

  • Understand that websites are designed in ways that align with their purpose

  • Make intentional text-to-self connections by describing the features of a website that they like to use.


Overview of Ontario Curriculum Expectations in this Lesson

A: Literacy Connections and Applications

  • A2.3 Research and Information Literacy

  • A2.4 Forms, Conventions & Techniques

B: Foundations of Language

  • B2.2 Vocabulary

C: Comprehension: Understanding and Responding to Texts

  • C3.3 Analyzing Texts

D: Composition

  • D1: plan, develop ideas, gather information, and organize content for creating texts of various forms, including digital and media texts, on a variety of topics

  • D2: apply knowledge and understanding of various text forms and genres to create, revise, edit, and proofread their own texts, using a variety of media, tools, and strategies, and reflect critically on created texts


Background Knowledge for Teachers

Building from the concept of network as the foundational structure of the Web, and core concept in Seeking Draven, this lesson introduces students to the concept of hyperlink, to different types of texts that can be found on the Internet, and how website content is related to use. 


The link between text structure and comprehension. Research on reading comprehension has long shown the relationship between an understanding of the structure of a text and the understandings that a reader will construct in relation to the text (e.g., Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000). It might seem like a basic principle — but if, for example, students know that informational texts have headings and subheadings that identify big ideas, or that a novel will include a narrative structure that builds toward a pivotal moment of change, comprehension of the ideas in those types of text will, generally, be stronger. The same is true with Internet texts. Students benefit from knowing the organizational structure and the purpose(s) that undergird the different types of texts they find and interact with online (Goldman & Brand-Gruwel, 2018; Goldman & Scardamalia, 2013). 


The author of Seeking Draven chose verse specifically because he felt it could mimic the form of internet texts more easily than prose. At the end of Seeking Draven, the author discusses why he chose a verse format for the novel and how it relates to the internet. Michael F. Stewart writes 


“This story is about Teagan’s learning to become digitally resilient, and I wanted the form to reflect that. Verse has more in common with the internet than prose does. The internet has more freedom of the page, reading quite differently whether it be a text, or threaded post, or a long scrolling blog. I wanted Teagan as a newcomer to the internet to occupy this world. To become drawn in and lost in it. To find herself lonely there and attention seeking. Verse echoes the internet’s form and allows me to explore it visually.”


In this lesson, students name and explore different kinds of Internet Texts. They use their observational skills to identify the features of Internet texts, much like Teagan does when she is identifying different kinds of mushrooms. They apply their understandings by making specific text-to-self connections in the proposed formative assessment activity (2C.).


Materials

  • Internet Connection 

  • Laptops, Chromebooks


Lesson 2 Activities 

2A. Read and Analyse the Poem Types of Detectives 


Curriculum Connections

  • C3.3 Comprehension: Analyzing Texts


Types of Detectives

All summer long I was a fungi detective.

I hunted them

On logs

On shores

In the grass.

Poisonous ones

Glowing ones

Wonky ones.

Mushrooms can be tricky to identify.

You need to know

Which ones might grow

On birches or oaks,

Investigate the facts

Look at the gills, stem, ring, and how it’s

Capped.

Maybe I can be a real detective.

Discover what the heck’s going on.

Thief? I BUMP the thought            No way

Creep past my brother’s room,

Wiggle the knob,

Locked.

Sealed.

Like a crime scene.

Maybe he is a criminal and maybe he isn’t,

But a good detective isn’t the judge,

A good detective discovers the truth.

Tomorrow I’ll learn to pick locks.


2.A.2 Analyse

Using this simple table, students (working in pairs) record potential locations of the mushrooms that Teagan writes about in this poem and the physical features that she identifies. (This can be done on paper or on a collaborative/shared/Google Document.) This can also be used as a formative assessment. As a reading comprehension activity, this activity can be used to assess students’ capacity to identify and organize their understanding of relevant information in texts. (C2.4 Monitoring of Understanding: Ongoing Comprehension Check; D1.4 Organizing Content)


Mushroom Locations

Physical Features










2B. Explore the Features of Web-based texts


Curriculum Connections

  • A2.3 Research & Information Literacy: Gather, evaluate and use information

  • A2.4 Forms, Conventions & Techniques

  • B2.2 Vocabulary (specific to the web and the Internet)

  • C1.2 Text forms and genres (specific to the web)

  • C1.3 Text patterns and features (specifc to the web)

  • D1.4 Select and classify ideas and collected information

  • D2.1 Producing drafts in various forms and genres (e.g., Screencast or infographic)

  • D2.3 Establish voice (e.g., a critical voice, an informative voice) in text (multimodal product) 


Next, students are invited to visit each of the following URLs that will bring them to five different kinds of websites. 


Explain that every site on the web, and every page within a site, has a one-of-a-kind identifying address called the URL. URL stands for Unique Resource Locator. This is how the Web remains organized. Every page is its own place that can be located and is stored using the URL.

Like mushrooms, which can be identified by where they tend to pop up, URLs are an important indicator that can be used to identify the text purpose. URLs can also provide an important clue about the trustworthiness of the site, although students should know that no single indicator should be used to make a judgment about how trustworthy an information source is.  


Features of Websites: Working with a partner, and using their observational powers, students are asked to record what they notice about each website, just by looking at and scrolling through the homepage. They are also invited to figure out what they think the purpose of each of these sites might be. 


In discussion, teachers can ask students to justify their inferences about the purpose of each site, based on the features they identify. 


As distinguishing features, expect students to identify some of the following (and even others):

  • Images, and the subject or content of the images (e.g., baked goods, outdoor equipment, smiling young people working together)

  • Video, and the content or purpose of the video (e.g., demonstrate how to make something, or live footage from an event happening around the world)

  • Advertisements

  • The use of headings to indicate big ideas or to guide the reader along the site

  • The balance of text and pictures

  • The presence of hyperlinks

  • The presence of the site name, brand or logo

  • The organizational structure of the pages (e.g., a grid, or a single column of information)

  • Colours

  • Font styles 

  • Multiple Language Switchers (e.g., EN/FR)

  • Search bars to search the site’s content 

  • Dates and Time Stamps for information to indicate recency as a criterion of transparency and trustworthiness (e.g., on the BBC)

  • Menu tabs or menu icon that can be clicked to reveal site structure


Discussion should focus on the ways that these features are used in relation to the inferences that students make about each site’s purpose. 


For example, a Wikipedia page is full of hyperlinks to other Wikipedia entries. As an encyclopedia, the purpose of this site is to inform. This text feature enables readers to quickly move around the Wikipedia environment to learn about related concepts. This is a great example of a website that is, itself, a network of information. 


Importantly, students should also know that e-commerce sites and blogs are designed to make viewers want to stay on the site. They might have noticed that these sites are organized and easy to navigate. Images are designed to make people feel a certain way (hungry, happy, cool, like they want to belong to the network of people who use this site…). There might be videos to watch, or interesting information for them to read. Staying on the site makes it more likely for people to buy things (e-commerce) or click on affiliate links (food blog) that result in the blogger getting paid. 


2C. Assessment

Teachers could assess or evaluate several specific expectations related to C1. Knowledge about Texts at the end of this lesson.


To evaluate students’ understanding of the forms, functions, text patterns and features of different types of web-based text genres, students could be asked to create a multimodal text.  

  • Idea 1: record a screencast of themselves (using an application such as screenpal, or screencastify or quicktime) viewing a site that THEY like or have used in the past. Using what they have learned about web-based texts, they could describe the site’s distinguishing features. Evaluation could focus on students’ capacity to describe the characteristics of the selected text, and apply knowledge of web genres. Teachers might look for evidence of students making reference to the ways that the text organization, use of multimodal features and use of language, hyperlinks and other distinguishing organizational dimensions serve to support what they understand to be the site’s purpose. 

  • Idea 2: create an infographic using an application such as canva or MS word that informs people of how to identify different web genres by using features of text form, text patterns and use of multimodal elements such as images, graphics, sound, hyperlinks and other graphic design elements. Students could reference a site that they like or regularly use as an example. This would support students’ emergent understanding of their own digitally networked preferences and activities. 


Lesson 2 Reflection

Lesson 2 explores how different parts of networks have different functions, features, codes, and intentions. 


As a reflection activity, each student should consider: What their choice of frequently used site could suggest about themself as a person?


This reflection will support students’ preparation to complete the summative assignment. 




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