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Nell Duke on Reading and Writing Informational Texts: Audioclips & References





Access the associated article (PDF) from The Council Chronicle (Nov 2013). 


Duke, N. K., Norman, R. R., Roberts, K. L., Martin, N. M., Knight, J. A., Morsink, P. M., & Calkins, S. L. (in press). Beyond concepts of print: Development of concepts of graphics in text, pre-K to grade 3. To appear in Research in the Teaching of English.

Halvorsen, A., Duke, N. K., Brugar, K. A., Block, M. K., Strachan, S. L., Berka, M. B., & Brown, J. M. (2012). Narrowing the achievement gap in second-grade social studies and content area literacy: The promise of a project-based approach. Theory and Research in Social Education, 40, 198-229.

This design experiment addresses the question: How can second-grade students from low-SES schools attain the same levels of achievement as students from high-SES schools on standards-based social studies and content area literacy assessments? Students from two high-SES school districts were assessed in order to establish target levels of achievement. Two project-based units focused on state standards in economics; civics and government; public discourse, decision making, and citizen involvement; and content area literacy were developed and implemented successively in four classrooms in low-SES school districts. Achievement of students in the low-SES districts was then compared to that of students in high-SES districts. Results show no statistically significant differences: following instruction, there was no SES achievement gap on these standards-based assessments. We describe the unit plans and strategies that the teachers used to implement these plans, and we discuss implications of the study for future research and practice.
Full text available at:

Roberts, K. L., Norman, R. R., Duke, N. K., Morsink, P., Martin, N. M., & Knight, J. A. (2013). Diagrams, timelines, & tables, oh my! Concepts and comprehension of graphics. The Reading Teacher, 61, 12-24.

The Common Core State Standards place unprecedented emphasis on visual text—appropriately so, as visual components are increasingly ubiquitous in many kinds of text. This shift in emphasis requires substantial changes in our teaching. Concepts of print need to be expanded to include concepts of graphics, and specific graphical devices, such as diagrams, timelines, and tables, need to become the focus of systematic instruction. This article shares research-based instructional practices that may support children's development in this increasingly important area.

Zhang, S., Duke, N. K., & Jiménez, L. J. (2011). The WWWDOT approach to improving students’ critical evaluation of websites. The Reading Teacher, 65, 150-158.

This article introduces a framework designed to improve students' awareness of the need to critically evaluate websites as sources of information and to improve their skill at doing so. The framework, called the WWWDOTframework, encourages students to think about at least six dimensions when evaluating a website: (1) Who wrote this and what credentials do they have? (2) Why was it written? (3) When was it written and updated? (4) Does this help meet my needs? (5) Organization of website; (6) To do list for the future. In an experimental study, fourth- and fifth-grade students who were taught this framework became more aware than control group students of the need to evaluate information on the Internet for credibility and were better able to evaluate the trustworthiness of websites on multiple dimensions. This article describes the framework and how it can be taught through a series of four 30-minute lessons. Suggestions and materials for teaching are provided.

Zhang, S., & Duke, N. K. (2011). The impact of instruction in the WWWDOT Framework on students' disposition and ability to evaluate web sites as sources of information. The Elementary School Journal, 112(1), 132-154.

Much research has demonstrated that students are largely uncritical users of Web sites as sources of information. Research-tested frameworks are needed to increase elementary-age students' awareness of the need and ability to critically evaluate Web sites as sources of information. This study is a randomized field trial of such a framework called WWWDOT. A matched-pair design involving 12 grade 4 and 5 classes was adopted. Data were collected through 3 assessments administered before and after the intervention: a questionnaire, a Single Web Site Evaluation Task, and a Web Site Ranking Task. ANCOVA and ordinal regression analyses reveal that students taught the WWWDOT framework became more aware of the need to evaluate information on the Internet for credibility and were better able to evaluate the trustworthiness of Web sites on multiple dimensions. However, students' overall judgment and ranking of the relative trustworthiness of Web sites was not improved.

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