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Textual Literacy

Captain Matthew Flinders

Words mean little by themselves. It is not enough to collect and save them. Students must learn to interpret and think about text so that important ideas come forward. We teach students to think critically, to "read between the lines," and to distinguish between fact and opinion. We also must emphasize effective search strategies.

The Internet offers millions of pages of text. If our students download files without sorting, sifting, weighing and considering the meaning of the text, if they simply save without reading, it will be an exercise in futility.

Consider how the rich text resources listed below and others like them might be used to develop textual literacy.

Project Gutenberg's A Voyage to Terra Australis, by Matthew Flinders

Essential Question: What can we infer about Captain Flinders' character by reading his account of conflicts with native people?

Go to text.

Use Inspiration to record your inferences. For each inference attach a note with a specific Flinders' story or entry to document your inference.

Australian Explorers Journals at Project Gutenberg of Australia

The Project Gutenberg Library of Australiana - Australian writers, works about Australia and works which may be of interest to Australians.

1) Go with a partner to Bartleby.Com and use the search engine features to see what the collected authors had to say about a concept you care about such as "darkness"
or "love" or "honor." Select ALL VERSE or ALL FICTION.

2) Save your most interesting findings in your learning log by cutting and pasting the best quotations. Collect at least 8.

3) Now write the most surprising new insight you gained?

4) Discuss and write down how search engines and electronic text may change, improve or weaken the act of reading for insight. How might you use this type of searching with students?

5) In your learning log, write your thoughts about the following: How is electronic text different from printed books when it comes to finding or making meanings? What are its advantages? Its disadvantages?

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© 2003, Jamie McKenzie,
All Rights Reserve