Multimodal Learning Clubs

According to the PEW Internet and American Life project, adolescents’ Internet use grew from 75% of adolescents in 2000 to 93% in 2010 (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010). As a result, the lines between the physical and the virtual worlds are blurring for many adolescents (Black & Steinkuehler, 2009). In the middle grades, educators in all disciplines need to understand how students are using text in these digital spaces so that they can best support their students’ learning (O’Brien, Stewart, & Beach, 2009). Multimodal learning clubs is a classroom strategy that supports students’ acquisition of new knowledge by pairing digital tools with requisite literacy strategies.

Locating the adolescent in a digital world

The nature of reading and writing continues to change in response to the mosaic of texts adolescents encounter and construct on a daily basis. Ninety-three percent of youth ages 12 to 17 report going online occasionally and 63% report doing so daily (Lenhart et al., 2010), and what they find online are mixed media, or multimodal content, that they use to construct meaning about a topic and to convey their understanding to others. Research suggests that approximately one in five teens accesses multimodal content (e.g., pictures, written text, video, music) and then synthesizes and remixes this content to create hybrid texts that integrate these forms for representation (Lenhart et al., 2010).

The ease with which adolescents access technology, however, is too often confused with their capacity to use these tools critically for academic purposes (Casey, 2011; Pahl & Rowsell, 2006; Zawalinski, 2009). Middle grades educators play an important role in mentoring students to use these tools appropriately to access and share information (Duffy, 2009; Hartman, Morsink, & Zheng, 2010; Zhang & Duke, 2008). Gee and Levine (2009) argued, “It is far more likely that students will learn complex language and sophisticated problem-solving skills when the fate of a digital world depends on it” (p. 48). As adolescents weave through these digital worlds, they interact with one another through fixed and moving text, and they use these interactions to make their own contributions to this digital landscape. In the classroom, students can learn how to use these digital communication tools in ways that support academic learning.

Theories of student engagement in the middle grades suggest that teachers should offer opportunities for students to engage in academic decision making, build relationships with students that connect their social identities with their academic development, and draw on relevant assessment results to differentiate learning activities for the range of learners in the classroom (Anderman & Anderman, 2010; Connell & Wellborn, 1991; Guthrie, 2004; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002). This theoretical framework is useful for understanding the appeal of digital platforms for many adolescent learners today. Digital platforms (a) provide opportunities for choice, as there are multiple pathways, tools, and media from which they can select; (b) offer empowering feelings of success, as feedback is often immediate; and (c) give the perception of belonging to a larger, often virtual, community (Gee & Levine, 2009). The intersection of what we understand about middle level engagement with these 21st century tools offers potentially powerful possibilities for classroom instruction and increased adolescent motivation, engagement, and, subsequently, achievement.

Understanding multimodality in the classroom

Multimodality, by definition, refers to the use of both traditional print material and dynamic digital content, including fixed and moving images, to construct and comprehend information (Jewitt & Kress, 2003). As Gee (2003) suggested

Language is not the only important communicational system. Images, symbols, graphs, diagrams, artifacts, and many other visual symbols are significant, more so today than ever. … In such multimodal texts (texts that mix words and images), then, the images often communicate different things from the words. Further, the combination of the two modes communicates things that neither of the modes does separately. And, indeed, multimodality goes far beyond images and words to include sounds, music, movement, and bodily sensations. (pp. 2–3)

Multimodality—this intersection of both print and non-print materials to convey a message—has always been a feature of communication. Reading gestures and photographs alongside printed text or considering the emotions evoked by music while viewing a silent film are just two examples of the multiple modes used to convey or receive meaning. As our world becomes increasingly digital, however, so too does our awareness of how multimodality contributes to learning. Kress, Tsatsarelis, Jewitt, & Ogborn (2001) described the importance of multimodality in understanding student learning in the middle grades.

Learning can no longer be treated as a process [that] depends on language centrally or even dominating … meaning is made in all modes separately, and at the same time, that meaning is an effect of all modes acting jointly. Learning happens through (or to put it as we see it, learners actively engage in) all modes as a complex activity in which speech or writing are involved among a number of modes. (p. 1)

This fascination with ready access to streaming content, web sources, and immediate written exchanges for personal and academic purposes at early ages is creating a generation of readers and writers who develop new knowledge by mining information from varied types of texts (Coiro & Dobler, 2007; Hazari & North, 2009; Lankshear & Knobel, 2008; Rowsell & Casey, 2009).

The ability to synthesize information from these modes is a sophisticated literacy activity that needs to be modeled and supported in the classroom. Research suggests that students who have developed literacy skills and habits with ready access to these tools are poised to receive and synthesize information from multiple modes and are likely to convey information using these same modes. Learning, as Kress and associates (2001) offered, is a tapestry of modes of communication that students are offered and access to build understanding. The mentor texts teachers use today as exemplars still include traditional bound, printed texts but, for the 21st century adolescent, these are comprehended alongside streaming video, social networking sites, and web pages that blend personal and academic learning (Boling, 2008; Zhang & Duke, 2008). Educators today must not only use technology as a tool to engage students, they also have to consider how technology has changed what it means to be an adolescent reader and writer in the 21st century and the implications of this shift for developing students as readers and writers alongside (and sometimes through) these tools.

Disciplinary literacy in the 21st century

Adolescents are the largest demographic to make use of mixed media for comprehending and constructing text (Lenhart et al., 2010), and studies show that there is often a mismatch between the tools students use to access information outside school and those available for them to use in school (Alvermann, 2009; Lenhart, Arafeh, Smith, & Macgill, 2008). That gap is closing, however, as access to resources and continued professional development has allowed the digital immigrant educators—those who have encountered these tools later in their life—to understand how to support the literacy development of our digital native students who have lived their entire lives with these tools (Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear, & Leu, 2008; O’Brien et al., 2009; Prensky, 2001).

Students gain and share information in the digital world through a mix of individual investigation and social collaboration. It is not uncommon, for example, for an adolescent to first independently research an assigned topic or a topic of personal interest through Internet searches and then engage with others in online social communities to collaboratively build further understanding (Alvermann, 2009; Kuiper, Volman, & Terwel, 2005). Research suggests that when students use these tools to read and write for authentic purposes, their achievement in school is enhanced (Coiro & Dobler, 2007; Gee, 2008), and this has important implications for learning in all content areas (Casey, 2011, 2012; Doering, Beach, & O’Brien, 2007). Pairing academic content with engaging modes of information may invite students to be more strategic about how they use literacy tools to support discipline-specific learning (Casey & Gespass, 2009; Daniels & Steineke, 2011; Rowsell & Casey, 2009). A large body of research suggests that adolescents engage as readers and writers when they have access to multiple texts and text types, opportunities to engage collaboratively with peers, and opportunities to make decisions throughout the process (Casey, 2009, 2011; Daniels & Steineke, 2011; Guthrie, 2004). In middle grades schools that are departmentalized according to traditional disciplines, engaging students with texts is often seen as the domain of the English language arts classes. The multimodal learning clubs project described in this article evolved in an effort to understand how this approach can move outside the language arts classroom to support discipline-specific learning.


From September 2010 to January 2011, Ms. K (the author), a reading specialist, collaborated with a classroom health teacher, Mr. James (all names used are pseudonyms), to develop multimodal learning clubs to support content area learning. Ms. K was a participantobserver in the classroom and her involvement included weekly on-site visits as well as daily communication via e-mail or phone. Mr. James and Ms. K were interested in understanding:

  1. In what literacy practices do sixth graders engage?
  2. What motivates sixth graders to investigate a content area topic?
  3. What literacy practices do sixth graders need to use to learn the content?
  4. What influence does technology have on the students’ meeting the course goals?

Participants and goals
Mr. James was a well respected middle grades health and physical education teacher who cared about his students’ learning. In reflecting on his work with health education, he felt that many of his students were challenged by the textbook and only engaged in the content when wholeclass videos were played. “I’m just not sure they are getting this, you know, how the body systems help. It’s important, but they really just rewrite what is in the book to answer the questions.” Mr. James was experiencing a common phenomenon in content area classrooms (Draper, 2010).

Studying human body systems is a curricular requirement for all sixth graders in River School District. Mr. James teaches health in Mountain School, a grades 5 and 6 school in an upper class suburb in the Northeast. Mr. James, like many of his content area colleagues, does not believe he is equipped to teach the requisite literacy skills his sixth grade students need to access the complex scientific information offered in the text. This situation supports the belief that literacy educators need to partner with content area colleagues to help students develop the genre-specific literacy skills needed within the respective content areas (Draper, 2010).

Data collection and analysis
The data included approximately 30 hours of video documentation of teacher and student work, surveys that identified the literacy habits of the sixth graders who engaged in the work, the student-generated physical and virtual artifacts (e.g., wikispaces, photographs, journals, and three-dimensional models), as well as a series of student focus groups at the conclusion of the study to better understand how these tools supported the students’ learning. In addition, assessment data from the teacher was used to describe the utility of this approach in the classroom. Data were initially coded by source, then these codes were compared across sources, and four themes emerged. The themes were: (1) the value of blending modes for learning, (2) the importance of individual and collective engagement, (3) the need to expand conceptions of mentor texts, and (4) the importance of managing technology.

Putting multimodal learning clubs into practice

The multimodal learning clubs project draws on previous research conducted with adolescents that shows evidence of increased engagement and improved student learning when students have the opportunity to work collaboratively, are empowered to make individual strategic choices about resources, and have flexibility in the methods and modes they use to convey meaning (Casey, 2009, 2011; Connell & Wellborn, 1991; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002).

Mr. James’ mandated curriculum requires all students to have a basic understanding of human body systems at the conclusion of sixth grade health. Previously, Mr. James had met this goal by having students use the assigned text and the video clips he shared to write a report that described each system. Mr. James found that this method was not unsuccessful. Surveys of students’ written work suggested that, in general, his students had developed a basic understanding of each of the systems, but Mr. James was concerned, based on his observations of students as well as direct student feedback, that the process of learning this information was somewhat artificial. Many students had difficulty comprehending some of the material Mr. James offered them, and the students did not seem excited about their learning. Mr. James thought the multimodal learning clubs approach would motivate students to engage with material more authentically.

Mr. James began the revised unit by describing each of the body systems to the 24 students in his class. The systems studied were the nervous, digestive, immune, muscular, circulatory, and skeletal systems. Students selected the systems in which they were most interested, and Mr. James organized groups accordingly, with three to four students per group. Once groups were formed, Mr. James introduced the goals of the project, which, as the curriculum stipulated, included being able to describe each of the systems’ functions. This time, instead of merely surveying each of the systems, students would spend the time becoming an expert in one system with the expectation that they would develop a learning tool for helping their peers understand the topic.

The groups met approximately once per week for 40 minutes to learn more about their topics. Each meeting included a mini-lesson Mr. James developed collaboratively with Ms. K, the reading specialist, to help students use literacy strategies to access the content. These mini-lessons included

  • Using printed reference materials.
  • Using the Internet strategically to mine information.
  • Understanding the goals of different text types as readers and writers (i.e., how to read and construct a diagram, interpret video, etc.).
  • Creating web spaces to share content.
  • Synthesizing information from multiple modes.
  • Constructing text to share information.
  • Creating materials with audience and goals in mind.

The students had access to the Internet, articles, and textbooks during each session. Students were provided with web sources to support their research, and they were encouraged to locate additional resources. Each session followed a similar format, beginning with 10 to 15 minutes for a whole-group mini-lesson, followed by 20 minutes of structured investigation and individual conferencing. During that time, each group made decisions about how to structure their time, with some working collaboratively on their goal for the day and others dividing tasks among individuals in the group.

Mr. James and Ms. K used that time to facilitate each group’s progress and to pull small groups of students and individuals aside for conferences based on need. For example, early in their work together, the digestive system group was trying to uncover resources that both explained their topic and would be useful to others. During that session, they organized their work according to text type, with some using the laptops to uncover relevant websites and others using the bound reference materials. The session ended with the groups sharing with one another and recording (initially on a paper learning log and, as the sessions went on, electronically) their learning for the day as well as their goal for the next session. This structured goal setting proved important for the group’s ability to stay on task and make effective use of their resources. Throughout the project, Ms. K recorded the content students were learning as well as the literacy processes they enacted through student interviews, observational notes, and video.

The project culminated with all groups sharing their sources. Groups developed wikispaces about their body systems that were carefully designed to teach their peers. Generally, students authored a multimodal mix of compositions, bulleted descriptions, PowerPoint slideshows, video links, and photographs that were constructed on or imported to their wikispaces. These student-generated texts were modeled after the text types they used to access the information during their research. Students were not required to use their web space as a vehicle for sharing. While all of the groups developed a wiki and were taught how to use the technology to share information, one group opted to create a three-dimensional model of the lungs that viewers could manipulate to demonstrate the properties of the respiratory system. Their demonstration was recorded, and the video was uploaded to their wikispace.

Mr. James and Ms. K assessed student learning through a survey. At the beginning of the project, they asked students to describe each of the body systems. At the conclusion of the project, students responded to the same questions and showed growth in all areas. Mr. James and Ms. K read each survey to determine whether students demonstrated a basic understanding of each body system. They defined “basic” as the ability to identify the organs of the system as well as the main functions. At the beginning of the project, no student had a basic understanding of all systems. At the conclusion of the project, approximately 75% had a basic understanding of all systems, with 50% showing advanced understanding (defined as the ability to synthesize and apply information). Approximately 85% demonstrated a basic understanding of five of the systems, and approximately 90% had a basic understanding of four of the systems. Ten percent failed to show a basic understanding of three or more of the systems. All the students had a basic understanding of at least their individual group’s system.

Ms. K surveyed students about their literacy habits and interviewed them in focus groups at the end of the project. The survey data was very much in line with what was reported by the PEW project, though on a smaller scale. All but one of the students reported accessing the Internet at home for personal and academic purposes, though about one-third of the class indicated they needed the help of a parent or older sibling to do so effectively. In the focus groups, students said they valued the ability to access and author multiple types of text and use digital sources to support their learning.

The value of multimodal learning clubs in the middle grades

The opportunity for students to choose a topic of study motivated them to be interested in the curricular content. This motivation was sustained by the multiple modes students could use to gain information and demonstrate comprehension. In reviewing each of the data sources (i.e., surveys, focus groups, video data, and reflective observation notes) four themes emerged that describe the project. These were (1) blending modes for learning, (2) the value of individual and collective engagement, (3) the expansion of mentor texts, and (4) the importance of managing technology.

Blending modes for learning
Throughout the project, the students had access to multiple modes of information for learning, including textbooks, articles, websites, diagrams, threedimensional models of the body, and video clips. It was not uncommon to observe students inspecting a threedimensional model then moving to printed texts and video images for further study. For example, during one session, Ms. K observed students in the muscular system group moving between the textbook and the Internet to locate information, while other members of the group developed paper charts and electronic files for composing and note taking. The conversation shifted as students moved from one mode to another, using whatever means necessary to achieve their goal of understanding the function of the system:

Mark: You look up how the muscles work on that site, and I’ll find it here.

Sam: Okay, but I can’t find the information. Mr. James, can you help?

Mr. James: One moment … (working with another group)

(The group is still at work as they wait for two minutes for Mr. James to join them.)

Jen: I’m putting the chart together, can’t you find it Sam?

(A fourth group member is working with the three-dimensional skeleton the class affectionately calls “Bones” to demonstrate what she is reading about in the textbook.)

Sam: Oh, here it is, it was under “how things work.” Got it. I think our first heading should be “Principles of Action”—that’s how this website has it.

Mr. James: (joining them) Okay, Sam, but be sure to give credit. What do you think that means?

As the student groups worked with different modes of information, their conversations wove the various modes together. While each member was responsible for a different task during their investigation, all shared the common purpose of understanding how the system worked. Using multiple modes, they began to arrive at various layers of meaning. The printed text prompted one student to demonstrate the motions while others considered how the type of text containing the information could be used as a model to develop their own method of sharing what they learned.

Students did not naturally access these modes, however. Their capacity to effectively use multiple modes of information to foster comprehension was linked to their opportunities to learn more about them in whole-group mini-lessons or small-group and individual conferences. This was not surprising, as student comprehension of content area texts typically improves when focused instruction is offered to help them locate information via various modes (Casey, 2012). However, there is a common assumption that it is enough to simply offer the computer to support learning when, like any other text, students need careful, direct instruction in both the architecture of the tool (how to access the text) and the strategies they can use to comprehend the material.

Early in the project, it was clear that students did not have the tools to discern how to mine useful information from the Internet, which offered a much larger landscape of information to consider than the carefully mediated textbook. In response, Mr. James and Ms. K developed a mini-lesson on navigating web-based texts. The students were taught to use the “WWW” strategy (What do I want to know? Where did I find it? Where else can I find it?), which is based on research in online, self-regulated reading (Coiro & Dobler, 2007). The following is an excerpt from the transcript of that mini-lesson and the whole-class discussion that ensued:

Ms. K: When you are reading information you find online, it is helpful to think of this when you type in that www: What do I want to know? Where did I find it? Where else can I find it? When we are using the Internet to learn information, we need to find the same fact in at least two places before we can believe that it is credible. Why do you think that is?

Jon: Because you want us to read more.

Mr. James: True, we do want you to read more, but it is more than that. One thing you need to know about using the Internet for information is that anyone can make a web page—even us, right? In fact, that’s something we are learning more about next week. So, you need to be really careful about what you believe, and one of the ways to help you with that is to confirm what you find. Make sense?

To further highlight the necessity of this we shared with the students a series of popular web hoaxes to demonstrate how important it is to read carefully.

The students then continued to develop their understanding of the body systems using these multiple sources. After this mini-lesson, students were observed blending text types as they used multiple sources to both investigate their topic as well as confirm what was being learned. During a typical class session, students’ desks were riddled with papers and pens, laptops were opened to web pages or video clips, and students were searching through the textbook and articles. This required a good deal of collaboration, as some students would act as “fact checkers” to be sure that what other group members were finding was accurate.

The value of individual and collective engagement
The opportunity to select a topic was important because, from the start, students felt a degree of independence and control over their learning as well as a responsibility for their peers. This is consistent with research on motivation and engagement that suggests adolescents are motivated to participate in the learning process when they have opportunities to make choices about their work and opportunities to collaborate with others (Casey, 2008/2009, 2009; Guthrie, 2004). In groups that worked effectively together, the opportunity to collaborate with peers fostered continued interest and supported the learning process. This was evident as students directed one another through and to relevant texts and looked to each other for help.

While Ms. K and Mr. James saw such collaboration throughout the project, it was especially evident in the work of the skeletal system. In the following transcript excerpt from the midpoint of the project, the students were attempting to create a product to share with the class while simultaneously building their understanding. The students were getting ready to start for the day, making decisions about how to use their time.

Michelle: Do you think we need a visual too? (Points to the bulleted description she has created on the screen.)

Mort: I think we should have one. I played around with the wiki at home, and I found a way to connect that cool video we found. I think that might be good too.

Jana: Did you finish watching it, though? I watched it ‘til the end last night, and it was actually made by a fifth grade class and put on their blog. I think we need to check some of that info out—they put their sources at the end.

Mark: Okay, I’ll do that. So, today, Michelle do you want to finish the outline while Jana and I factcheck? Mort, do you get the wiki? Do you think you can start putting some stuff up—I’m still not sure.

Mort: Yeah, I’ll start, but you guys need to start signing on from home too. That’s when I really started to figure things out.

There was a lot going on in this excerpt. In addition to the organization of group roles and the implementation of the shared mini-lessons, the dialogue reveals that some students embraced technology and others resisted it. The collaborative nature of the project offered the informal peer support systems that have been documented as being important when using these tools (Coiro et al., 2008; Pahl & Rowsell, 2006; Rowsell & Casey, 2009).

The use of technology and digital modes of texts offered further opportunities for engagement, in part, because students found these tools inviting, but also because they had more opportunities to work with materials that were specific to their individual needs. For example, there were several instances in which students dismissed a website because the language was too difficult to comprehend, so they simply navigated to one that was easier to access. When working with a single text or type of text, opportunities to abandon difficult texts are limited. This may result in increased frustration for many struggling readers and interfere with the content learning goals for the unit of study. Mr. James reflected on this in one of our post-session conversations: “It’s nice to see them in charge of what they are doing. Usually, I am called over to define a word or explain a sentence, and I don’t seem to be doing as much of that this time.” While the technology may have played a part in this, Mr. James’s collaboration with a reading specialist allowed for a more focused discussion of literacy strategies students might need (Draper, 2010).

The opportunity to work in groups was generally a positive aspect of the multimodal learning clubs, as documented in the literature, but teachers must carefully develop collaborative groups (Casey, 2012; Johnson & Johnson, 1999; Nevgi, Virtanen, & Niemi, 2006). Groups often fail when students are not held accountable individually. Creating a sense of community within each group was important, and this was achieved by holding students individually accountable for the material and collectively responsible for their peers’ learning (Casey, 2012; Daniels & Steineke, 2011; Nevgi et al., 2006).

Expansion of mentor texts
The use of mentor texts, which are exemplars of literacy products, has been documented as an important strategy to support literacy development (Robb, 2010). The use of mentor texts was expanded in the multimodal learning club project to include still and moving images as well as dynamic, interactive text conversations (Hicks, 2009). Multiple mini-lessons and student conferences taught students how to approach these texts as strategic readers as well as how to make decisions about selecting from different modes of text when preparing to share information with others. For example, after viewing an interactive video on the respiratory system, one group created their own three-dimensional model using PVC piping for their peers to use to support their understanding of the pulmonary system.

Miles: You see, this is where the air comes. (Points to pipe.)

Jake: And we made the lungs out of plastic bags at the end here, because they can contract and expand, like the lungs.

In this brief exchange, the students discussed the pulmonary system, using their construction of the model as a way to illustrate the process. While some of the science behind the model needed some revision, the students were clearly able to use it as a mentor text, and other groups had similar experiences creating various text types. In addition, almost all the groups created some type of PowerPoint to include on their wiki, in part, because a large portion of the mini-lessons relied on this platform to convey information.

Importance of Managing Technology
Working with technology adds a layer of complexity to classroom management, and middle grades teachers often cite management challenges as a reason to disband an idea (Garrett & Casey, 2010). There were times, for example, when the portable laptops would suddenly freeze or power down. This resulted in frustrating down time for students and inefficient learning opportunities. While the physical layout of the health room with laptops appeared ideal, the frequent technological interruptions made learning difficult, so midway through the project, the students elected to change rooms.

Mr. James: Okay, so we are at a point here where we can continue to meet in our room at these tables and deal with the computer difficulties or move to the computer lab, where it will be tight and you can’t move around as easily, but we know they work. What’s your choice?

Student response (all): Lab!

When Marge, one of the students, was asked during a focus group discussion about the decision to change rooms, she said:

I think if it was the beginning, we wouldn’t have voted to move, but since we already had figured out the group thing, we really needed to know that the computers would work. It didn’t matter as much anymore if we were sitting near each other, we figured things out enough so [that] we could work it out.

When teachers abandon technology because of glitches, they deny students the very necessary opportunity to work with a mode of learning that will be standard when they enter the workplace as adults. There is value in helping students understand how to weather these distractions and disappointments in an effort to achieve the larger learning goal.

The possibilities for content area instruction

While multimodal learning clubs began as a project for one unit, it will be important to continue this approach for additional units of study because multimodality becomes natural when it is threaded throughout all learning. While the findings are limited in their generalizability because the study focused on one classroom, this glimpse at multimodal learning clubs inside one health classroom provides an idea of what this strategy might look like in other content areas.

Multimodal learning clubs are consistent with the Association for Middle Level Education’s (formerly National Middle School Association [NMSA]) positions regarding how students learn and how schools should support meaningful, engaging instruction and the use of digital tools (NMSA, 2010). At the conclusion of the project, the students made the following comments, suggesting the multimodal learning clubs met these aims.

  • “I liked working with the wikis because we were writing for someone real. I mean, even our parents could go on and see what we did. That was cool.”
  • “It was good that we got to choose. I wasn’t that interested in some of the other systems, but then once I learned about mine and how it connected to some of the others, it was good. The other groups did a lot of charts and writing to help us understand, and that was helpful.”
  • “I didn’t realize how much reading and writing I would have to do to understand this until Mr. James and Ms. K kept talking about it at the beginning of each class. At first I was like, come on, let’s just get to the websites; but then when I started having trouble with some of them, I was sort of glad they taught us how to figure things out on our own. But I think I still need some help in understanding some of the topics.”

Middle level educators need to expand their understanding of what counts as “texts” in school and how students access and convey information from them. Future studies of content area classrooms linked to high-stakes assessments would offer an opportunity to understand how this learning clubs tool supports student achievement on multiple types of assessments across content areas. Content specialists can work with literacy colleagues to help students uncover the disciplinespecific literacy tools needed to mine content using varied text types (Casey, 2012; Draper, 2010; Duffy, 2009; O’Brien et al., 2009).


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Previously published in Middle School Journal, November 2012

Heather Casey is an associate professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. E-mail: