Teaching Online Reading Comprehension with the World Cup

As I sat and watched the USA robbed of their victory I realized the World Cup can be a powerful teaching tool. Students, in many of the interviews I conducted, commented that they love using the Internet in the classroom becuase they can learn about “stuff happening now, while our textbooks are filled with old stuff.”

During the match I wondered how the groups are determined. So I Googled it…then it hit me. The World Cup is a perfect venue for teaching online reading comprehension. There are international perspectives, thousands of websites, and plenty of motivation around soccer…I mean Football.


Give or have the students develop some questions. Determine which are more restricted or unrestricted.

In other words how open are the questions. For example: “How are the World Cup groups determined?” is a very restricted question. The answer is concrete.On the other hand, “Should there be video review of goals?” is more open ended and open to interpretation.


Locating is an easy skill to teach but hard to master. I would take a restricted and unrestricted question from the class and Google it. Then print out the search results and analyze the results with the students.

I also think the classic Internet scavenger hunt is unapproachable in its ability to build searching skills. As a teacher, though, why do all the work? Put students in groups, create a Google Doc, and have each group create a World Cup scavenger hunt.


As my readers know (all two of you) I define critical evaluation as a contextual process of examining, adopting, and changing perspectives in order to judge the relevancy and credibility of a website. There are many opportunities with the World Cup to encourage what Lankshear calls, “developing perspectives on perspectives.”

For example it would be interesting to read what different bloggers from opposing countries say about a game. Another idea would be to investigate the question chosen by class and examine the author of each site to determine the level of expertise.
You could also look at these websites and identify markers of reliability that the authors use.

You could also give students a list of four websites and have them consider how perspectives influence the way authors shape information.Julie Coiro, who I differ to all matters of critical evaluation, developed a set of questions that works well with this activity:

Understanding Perspectives

1.Who (individual and/or organization) created this source?
2.What motivated the author to create this source?
3.What techniques does the author use to make you understand the topic in a particular way?

Reading Across Perspectives

4.How does this author’s perspective compare to other sources you have read?
5.Where do YOU sit on the issue of ___________, in relation to the set of perspectives you have read?


Synthesis is probably the hardest of all skills to assess and teach. It happens almost unnoticeably as students interact with other people, discourses, and learning artifacts. Yet it is probably the most critical of all skills as it is important for all learning.

Once the students have investigated the authors and their perspectives have them choose the four best websites on their World Cup question. Then use the following form to scaffold their synthesis:

I adapted from my former colleagues at the New Literacies Research Lab and created a gForm. If you make your own gForm your students information will be loaded to a spreadsheet to allow you to quickly track their growth.


I am one of those folks who thinks their is a clear line between composition and communication. Although Web 2.0 tools are blurring the differences. As a teacher decide if you you want to focus on digital composition or just have students communicate the answer to their original question. There are many numerous tools out there for communication and/or composition. As you choose one make sure to focus on the unique discourses associated with that tool.

In Conclusion, Fire that ref, Go USA.

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