Meet the Influencer: Don Leu

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Don Leu is a colleague, mentor, and friend to the Literacy Beat bloggers, and he has consistently influenced our research since we met him. Don and the New Literacies Research Lab always have something innovative in the pipeline to lead our thinking. In this post, we are very pleased to introduce Don to you.  We asked Don to tell us about the ORCA project, Online Research and Comprehension Assessment. ORCA addresses the need for assessments and resources for online inquiry and research in our schools.  Read Don’s response to learn more about ORCAs and find the professional development resources that support it, all provided as a public service. 

Don Leu

Don Leu

What is Orca? 

Central to our students’ success in life will be the ability to conduct inquiry online in order to learn (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2011; Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010) What does this process look like and how might we determine our students’ ability in this area so we can prepare appropriate instruction?  The ORCA Project (http://www.orca.uconn.edu) recently developed eight authentic assessments to measure online inquiry skills in science (human body systems).  The assessments are now freely available online.   A video describing these assessments is also available (see below).


The assessments appear in two formats: ORCA-Multiple Choice  (or ORCA-Closed) and ORCA-Simulation.  In each, students conduct online research about an important question in science and responses are largely auto-scored. Both formats have demonstrated acceptably high levels of reliability and validity, though the ORCA-Simulation has demonstrated a 10% higher level of reliability, compared to ORCA-Multiple Choice (See Leu, et al., 2014).

Our research with representative state samples of 1,300 students in Maine and Connecticut shows that, on average, 7th graders only perform successfully on about half of the skills required in online research, suggesting that they are not fully prepared in this area.  It also shows students are especially weak in critical evaluation skills and communication skills.  (See Leu, et al., 2015)

You are welcome to use these assessments for instruction, assessment, or professional development.  They may be accessed online without cost. A professional development module is also available.

ORCA

ORCA

References

Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2015).  The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1). 1-23. Newark, DE: International Literacy Association. doi: 10.1002/rrq.85. Available at: http://www.edweek.org/media/leu%20online%20reading%20study.pdf

Leu, D. J., Kulikowich, J., Sedransk, N., Coiro, J. Forzani, E., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C. (April 4, 2014). The ORCA Project: Designing Technology-based Assessments for Online Research, Comprehension, And Communication, American Educational Research Association. Philadelphia, PA.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD.](2011). Students on line: reading and using digital information. Paris: OECD. Available at  http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264112995-en

Meet Don:

Donald J. Leu is the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology at the University of Connecticut. He holds a joint appointment in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education. A graduate of Michigan State, Harvard, and Berkeley, he is an international authority on literacy education, especially the new skills and strategies required to read, write, and learn with Internet technologies and the best instructional practices that prepare students for these new literacies. Don directs the New Literacies Research Lab in the Neag School of Education. He is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame, Past President of the Literacy Research Association, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the International Literacy Association.

Find Don at the University of Connecticut and the New Literacies Research Lab.

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Language and the Sciences

Students Use Language in the Sciences

  • The Literacy in the Disciplines Interview Project 

Because what students do with language as they learn about and through any given discipline should be the end result of our work in disciplinary literacy, we share this example of student work in science. In this video newscast, students Garrett and Ben demonstrate their understanding of the language of science, particularly physics, as they explain the principles of matter and antimatter. Note the precise use of the language of science in their presentation. Watch this video to see them in action.

 

Josh Lawrence at the University of California, Irvine, shared this video about reading a graph like a scientist with us. We hope you’ll find it useful:

 

Literacy Meets Music

  • The Literacy in the Disciplines Interview Project

We invited Dr. Linda Lungren, a music teacher, pianist, composer, and choral conductor to interview Tim Peterson, bassist for the band, Everytheory, in Los Angeles CA regarding the literacy demands of working in the music industry. Download Evertheory’s music at freedownload.evertheory.net/ and visit the band’s website at www.evertheory.com/. Listen to this podcast of Linda’s interview with Tim.

 

 

Our colleague, Josh Lawrence at the University of California, Irvine, shared this video on a disciplinary approach to reading sheet music, as well.

 


Literacy in the Arts

  • The Literacy in the Disciplines Interview Project

Dr. Barbara Moss of San Diego State University interviews artist Liz Jardine in San Diego about the role literacy plays in her art and her art business, and the role art plays in literacy.

 

Art teacher Tim Benson responds in this podcast to the YouTube video interview with Barbara Moss and Liz Jardine who discuss the role of literacy in creating art. Tim is also the President of the San Diego County Art Education Association.


Technology, Entertainment, & Literacy

Literacy in the Technology and Entertainment Fields

  • The Literacy in the Disciplines Interview Project

Alex Gonzalez interviews Paul Hill about the demands of literacy in the technology industry in this video. Alex is a technology expert in education at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Paul works in the technology and entertainment industry.

 

Next, Annaleah Enriquez, a health educator at Health Sciences High and Middle College in San Diego responded with ideas for engaging students based on the interview with Alex and Paul. Please listen to this podcast:

 

STEM and Literacy

  • The Literacy in the Disciplines Interview Project

Cynthia H. Brock interviewed Cal Anderson of SpaceX and Joe Assof of Health Sciences High and Middle College about the intersections of literacy, mechanical engineering, and mathematics in this video series.

In Part I, Cindy, Cal, and Joe discuss some of the expectations and demands of language in the mechanical engineering field.

 

In Part II, the team converses about how the ideas they discussed in Part I might look in the classroom. At two points in the conversation, Joe provided video of his students in the classrooms.  Look for the callout to take you to the classroom videos or view them separately, below.

 

In this video, Joe Assof works through a complex problem with a group of 11th graders where they have to understand the context of the problem and what is being asked in order to understand how to apply the mathematics. Notice how the students use language to support their understanding in mathematics.

 

Joe is working with an outstanding group of students who use close-reading to understand two short word problems in this video. The students are using an annotation scaffold to guide their thinking as they read and discuss the word problems.

 

Next, W. Ian O’Bryne, College of Charleston, interviews Kurt Becker, Utah State University, about intersections of engineering education, design, STEM, and literacy.

 

You may also access this set of videos in the Interview Series that have to do with STEM topics as a playlist on YouTube.

Soon, I will have these interviews uploaded as podcasts to iTunes or GooglePlay, so stay tuned!

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