Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Internet Reading: The genre

By on March 23, 2009

So I’m sitting here pondering the titles of the two curriculum books I am currently writing on teaching Internet Literacy, and I can’t help but wonder if reading on the Internet isn’t its own genre all together.  

I mean, I know that reading online takes the form of any other genre depending on its content, but the format is unique: headers, sidebars, ads, flash, menu bars, etc…

So doesn’t reading online specifically take different skills then reading any other genre?  Isn’t it a combination of genres, combined with a social genre of sorts?  Isn’t the fact that it is a 2-way read justifiable in identifying it as its own category of literature?  

And if we were to identify it as a category of literature, would not more teachers see the imperative need to teach to that genre?  



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  1. Mike Shay
    March 24, 2009

    This is what hypertext writers have been saying for a long time. Reading online should be its own genre. It’s a multilevel system, where you can leave the main story for some research on another site and that may lead to somewhere else and eventually (we hope) you get back to the main story. Kind of like a flashback or a digression in a novel. I have two hyperactive kids who live their lives in hypertext. They also are diehard readers of books.

    Speaking of digressions… Just read your piece, “My Brilliant Second Career,” reprinted in Arts Education in the News. Very funny, and an offbeat guide for adults pondering a second or third career.

    Do you ever take your show on the road? Our local community college in Cheyenne, Wyo., is planning a writers’ camp in June for 7th-9th graders. Sounds as if that might be your cup of tea.

    Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

  2. Tweenteacher
    March 24, 2009

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for your comment. I am just starting to really obsess on the is topic and I love the new language I’m learning from your email. I liken it to a “Read Your Own Adventure Book.” Remember those? Turn to page 11 if you want to board the spacecraft. Turn to page 83 if you want to hide behind the column and take pictures.

    Thanks again for the comment, especially one that I learn so much from.
    Take care,
    aka Tweenteacher

  3. Sarah
    March 28, 2009

    Hi Heather! After our VOICE discussion the other day, I made a mental note to check out your blog. Now that I’m on spring break, I finally have a chance. I love it!

    The topic of Internet literacy is of particular interest to me. My students are currently researching their editorial topics so last week I conducted a mini-lesson on note-taking from websites. As I was preparing the lesson, I realized how unique the text features of the Internet are. In fact, I’ve noticed that by having tools (especially headers and links), some websites offer more support for struggling readers than traditional texts. Also, while I’m of a generation who prefers to work off of a printed text, many of students are more engaged by the scrolling and clicking offered by the Internet.

    I hope you’re right when suggesting that reluctant teachers will make more use of Internet resources once they learn these benefits.

    Take care!

  4. heather
    March 28, 2009

    Thanks for checking out the site! I miss VOICE already. Anyway, I have been collecting different information about Internet Literacy for these books of worksheets, and I feel like I’ve become a better web-reader because of them. It’s so metacognitive to reflect on what I’m doing as I read and how I’m reading as I make decisions online.
    So great to hear from you!
    aka Tweenteacher

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