About Julie Coiro

Empowering Struggling Readers in
Grades 4-6 with Technology

Fostering Discussions with One Classroom Computer

Presented by Julie Coiro
SERC, March 21, 2002

Fostering Discussions with One Classroom Computer
Tom Synder's 

Decisions, Decisions 

and Decisions, Decisions Online

For more products,see 
Tom Snyder Productions

With each title in the Decisions, Decisions series, students role-play a decision-maker faced with a crtiical situation drawn right from their history or contemporary issues curriculum.  Students use a proven 5-step model for critical thinking and decision-making to gather and review information, discuss options, and take action.  Titles include topics about U.S. History, World Histoy, and Current Events. 

The five-step critical thinking process includes the following:

  • Analyze the situation: Students are presented with a real-world dilemma (e.g. how will they vote on the critical issues raised at their nation's constitutional convention?) and they must identify the main issues and separate fact from opinion.
  • Determine the goals: Working in cooperative teams, students determine their long-term and short-term objectives.  What is most important?
  • Consider your options: Opposing viewpoints and examples from history spark lively discussion as students reach a consensus about which action to take.
  • Make a decision: Together, students make a decision and input their choice into the computer. 
  • Examine the consequences: The computer shows the decision's consequences.  The advisors reappear, and students are presented with new options to consider. 
Students within each team receive role-play briefing books that help them make decisions and log their decision-making process. 

With Decisions, Decisions Online, students can now discuss the latest issues from today's headlines and share their ideas in an online forum.  A new topic is featured each month.  Internet enhancements include engaging videos that draw students into discussion, a discussion board for students to practice persuasive writing with other students across the country, and online polls that computer real-time national and regional data.  You can subscribe online or receive a free 45-day trial

During our session, we'll be exploring the Animal Testing Decisions, Decisions Online website.  You'll be able to experience the small group decision making first hand with access to these inspiring videos from the experts involved.  

Think, Pair, Share: 

Take a moment to reflect on these new technologies and discuss what features are embedded into these electronic tools that may help support the struggling reader while keeping your stronger readers challenged. 


Instructional Practices Grounded in Research
Computer Supported Reading Environments
Inspiration as a Software Literacy Tool
Anticipation Guides 
Discussions with One
Classroom Computer 
Fostering Literacy Connections Online Literacy Software Support Tools Related Resources 
for Teachers