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We set out to help students develop literacy and engineering skills while fostering an identity as individuals who are capable of changing society. Our focus on literacy within this project is a direct response to the abilities and needs of our participating students, whose first language is Spanish and who vary in their reading ability (third- to sixth-grade level). As such, all texts and materials used during our sessions were selected and adapted accordingly. The participating children visited our university every week during their after-school program, which is hosted at the local community center. Although this setting allowed for flexibility that may be limited in a more traditional classroom context, teachers who incorporate collaborative practices during instruction could easily replicate the activities described in this article. For example, as teachers create more opportunities for students to engage in cooperative, small-group activities (Cohen and Lotan 2014), teachers could follow our experiences with as many small groups as resources allow.
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Innovative youth: An
engineering and literacy
integrated approach
BY DIANA J. ARYA, DANIELLE HARLOW, ALEXANDRIA K. HANSEN, LOIS HARMON, JASMINE
MCBEATH, AND JAVIER PULGAR
When we asked middle
school students wheth-
er they had the abil-
ity to invent things, they balked.
They exclaimed that adults are
the ones who invent and that ev-
erything that could possibly be
invented had already been cre-
ated. Yet history abounds with
stories of young people solv-
ing problems and creating new
technologies, and new innova-
tions are surfacing every day. We
wanted our students to realize
that they were capable of creating
the future, and that science liter-
acy and engineering skills would
help them become the innovators
and inventors of tomorrow.
We set out to help students de-
velop literacy and engineering
skills while fostering an identity
as individuals who are capable of
changing society. Our focus on lit-
eracy within this project is a direct
response to the abilities and needs
of our participating students,
whose rst language is Spanish
and who vary in their reading abil-
ity (third- to sixth-grade level). As
such, all texts and materials used
during our sessions were selected
and adapted accordingly. The par-
ticipating children visited our uni-
versity every week during their
after-school program, which is
hosted at the local community cen-
ter. Although this setting allowed
for exibility that may be limited
in a more traditional classroom
context, teachers who incorporate
collaborative practices during in-
struction could easily replicate the
activities described in this article.
For example, as teachers create
more opportunities for students
to engage in cooperative, small-
group activities (Cohen and Lotan
2014), teachers could follow our
experiences with as many small
groups as resources allow.
Engineering design,
maker education, and
literacy
The Next Generation Science Stan-
dards (NGSS Lead States 2013) in-
clude engineering as both a prac-
tice and disciplinary core idea,
requiring that students not only
do engineering but also learn about
engineering as a way of applying
scientic knowledge to creating
new technologies that improve
lives. We addressed this dual re-
CONTENT AREA
Literacy, science, and
makerspace (engineering)
education
GRADE LEVEL
6–8
BIG IDEA/UNIT
Scientific innovations and
electricity
ESSENTIAL PRE-EXISTING
KNOWLEDGE
None
TIME REQUIRED
8–10 hours
COST
$75–$250 (depending on
available resources and number
of stations needed)
quirement by coupling engineer-
ing activities that involve the ap-
plication of scientic conceptual
knowledge with reading and dis-
cussing adapted biographies of
82
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY
| FIGURE 1: Overview of the activities
Activity Reading
materials
Materials used Alternatives
Activity 1:
Illuminating
Inventions
Louis Braille:
Invention of the
Braille Alphabet;
Becky Schroeder:
Reading in the Dark
Three objects of similar size: a small
ball, dog figurine, and glow-in-the-dark
mouse figurine
Any three portable objects
of similar size and coloring,
with only one that glows in
the dark.
Activity 2: Simple
Circuits
None AA batteries, battery holders, wires, light
bulb, and basic circuit kit
3V cell batteries ($5 for 10,
available online), copper
tape or aluminum foil,
light-emitting diode (LED)
lights ($5 for 100, available
online)
Activity 3: Volta’s
Circuit
Alessandro Volta:
Lightning and the
Invention of the
Electric Circuit
Students can revisit the equipment used
during the electric circuit activities and
associated diagrams to connect key
points to the text about Volta.
N/A
Activity 4: Circuits
Everywhere
None Makey Makey circuit boards with USB
cable connectors and alligator clips,
OLPC XO laptops, Scratch programming
software (see Resources)
Makey Makey Go (a smaller
version that is available
for $25; see Resources),
computers in the school
lab or library with the
browser-based free
Scratch program (see
Resources)
Activity 5: A
Sensing Sock
Kenneth Shinozuka:
Invention of the
Sensing Sock for
Patients With
Alzheimer’s
Science in Action Award video about
Shinozuka’s invention (see Resources)
N/A
Activity 6: Making
a Pressure Sensor
None Video news story about Shinozuka’s
invention (see Resources), demo switch
made from cotton balls and aluminum
foil, modeling clay, aluminum foil, cotton
balls, LED lights, tape, straws, light
bulbs, wire, AA batteries, battery holders,
Scratch software (see Resources), Makey
Makey circuit board (see Resources)
Homemade conductive
and insulating dough (see
Resources)
Activity 7: Sharing
Maker Projects
None Modeling clay, cotton balls, aluminum
foil, LED lights, tape, light bulbs, alligator
clips, Scratch software (see Resources),
Makey Makey circuit board (see
Resources)
N/A
Summer 2017 83
children who invented something
that solves a problem.
Our integrated approach aligns
with the general movement schools
have made toward integrating
making into classroom learning.
Making is the act of creating physi-
cal artifacts—using knowledge
and skills from science, technol-
ogy, engineering, art, and math-
ematics (STEAM)—for the pur-
pose of sharing creations with the
world. Since the inception of the
very rst Maker magazine in 2005
and the rst Maker Faire in 2006,
makerspace learning continues to
increase its relevance and presence
in our school communities. Maker
spaces, also characterized as Tin-
kering Spaces, HackerSpaces, or
Fab(rication) Labs, have sprouted
rapidly in U.S. schools as one of
multiple approaches to meeting
the new, practices-oriented science
education standards (Kelly 2016).
Our approach
We created a series of activities
divided into two complementary
types of sessions: four 60-minute
sessions focused on making and
three 60-minute sessions empha-
sizing literacy. Both session types
contribute to students’ under-
standing of engineering.
We rst reviewed simple cir-
cuits by having students look at
images depicting different ar-
rangements of a battery, bulb, and
wire and predicting which would
light the bulb. They then tested
these arrangements and came to
a consensus about the criteria for
a complete circuit. We then intro-
duced the circuit board and Scratch
programs to students to increase
technological complexity and fos-
ter creative products. By the end of
the activity series, which consisted
of seven hour-long meetings, our
students were able to employ their
understanding of how to create a
complete circuit and coding to cre-
ate a nal project of their choos-
ing. In addition to gaining insights
about how early scientists created
and used electric circuits, our par-
ticipants also learned how the fun-
damental circuit can be applied to
create more complex systems with
the Scratch programming tools
(see Figure 1 for activity overviews
and materials lists, along with low-
cost alternatives).
Language and literacy played
a central role in transforming our
students’ perspectives about and
perceived roles in innovation. We
developed “Innovation Stories,”
which followed the general model
of a Science Discovery Narrative
(SDN), highlighting the process
that led to the discovery. An SDN
is a story or telling of how a sci-
entist came to discover or learn
something new, as it actually hap-
pened, including the mishaps
and the trials and errors. These
SDNs are crafted from the scien-
tists’ perspective, thus providing
a more intimate view of how new
knowledge was created. Discov-
ery narratives have been found
to signicantly support students’
sustained understanding of con-
ceptual information (Arya and
Maul 2012). Our Innovation Sto-
ries (introduced and discussed
during our literacy sessions) are
adapted versions of journalistic
accounts or biographies that de-
scribe the backgrounds, problems,
and efforts of certain inventors, all
of whom began their explorations
during their youth and whose ex-
periences have some relevant con-
nection to making projects involv-
ing electric circuits and computer
programming. We used a process
(see sidebar) that is supported by
literacy experts (e.g., Fisher, Frey,
and Lapp 2012) to adapt our sto-
ries from their original sources in
a way that supports accessibility
and understanding of key con-
Adapting Innovation Stories
1. Map the original versions of the text (ensuring the inclusion of key
concepts and ideas).
2. Draft initial adaptations. The drafts should not compromise
scientific accuracy.
3. Ask colleagues with expertise in science and literacy to review the
drafts.
4. Ask a few students who have demonstrated less advanced reading
levels to review the drafts for understanding.
5. Revise the drafts to ensure clarity and scientific accuracy for readers.
84
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY
cepts. We could then reference
the readings during making ac-
tivities and ensure that they were
grade-level appropriate, interest-
ing to middle school students,
and aligned with the Common
Core State Standards, in English
language arts (CCSS ELA; NGAC
and CCSSO 2010), and the NGSS.
All texts used in this unit were
vetted by a panel of reviewers that
included two middle school stu-
dents, a science educator, a liter-
acy specialist, and three graduate
students with a background in sci-
ence and literacy instruction. Such
vetting involved separate meeting
discussions, during which the
reviewer thought aloud any con-
fusion in wording or described
process. The panel members re-
viewed and conrmed their ap-
proval on all edited versions.
The adaptation process began
with a general search for stories
about young people who have
invented new technologies that
made a contribution to society.
Such stories were then checked
for authenticity and accuracy dur-
ing a further search for multiple
reliable sources. For example,
we checked the Wikipedia entry
about Louis Braille against other
sources available in university
or public libraries, and while in-
formation about Braille differed
according to the interests of the
authoring source, we found no
conicting information presented
across these sources. We selected
textual sources based on estab-
lished credibility (e.g., preferring
widely recognized, national news
sources over lesser known local
outlets, and attending to those
sources that have been reviewed
and commented on by other ex-
perts) and modied them in terms
of text length and readability. The
length of an individual text was
determined by the extent to which
the text (along with other associ-
ated texts targeted for a particular
reading and discussion session)
could be read and discussed by
most participants in less than 50
minutes within a collaborative con-
text (in which students are encour-
aged to help one another during
discussions, with support from
teachers as requested or needed).
As a result, all of our texts were no
longer than two pages (approxi-
mately 600 words). Key informa-
tion in any text (including data,
gures, and tables) should be un-
derstandable to all participants
within collaborative contexts.
Overview of activities
Activity 1: Illuminating
inventions
We begin by showing students
three objects of similar size—a
small rubber ball, a dog gurine,
and a plastic, phosphorescent toy
mouse—and ask them to predict
which would glow in the dark.
They test their ideas by closing
their hands around each object
while the lights in the classroom
are off. This challenge of “seeing
in the dark” serves as a primer for
two Innovation Stories readings.
The rst reading describes Louis
Braille’s invention of the Braille
alphabet and introduces the idea
of nding a problem (reading
while blind), coming up with an
idea to solve the problem (raised
bumps on paper that could be
detected by the ngertips), and
creating a prototype of the idea (a
system of bumps on thick paper).
The second reading introduces
Becky Schroeder, who had a simi-
lar problem: Unlike Braille, Becky
Schroeder could see, but she
wanted to be able to read in the
dark. Schroeder used phospho-
rescent paint to create a clipboard
that illuminated printed text.
Both readings introduce the
ideas of multiple prototypes and
learning through failure, along
with new words such as “patent.”
Students contrasted the stories
using evidence from the text. In
contrasting these stories, students
noted that both inventors were
young, had original ideas, and
created things that helped others.
Students also discussed what they
would like to invent.
Activity 2: Simple circuits
Students explore (or review) sim-
ple circuits. Students look at im-
ages depicting different arrange-
ments of a battery, bulb, and wire
and predict which will light the
bulb. They then test these arrange-
ments and came to a consensus
about the criteria for a complete
circuit. They should be instructed
to let go of any circuit that feels
like it is getting warm. Precau-
tionary measures to ensure safety
for all students include (a) wear-
ing safety goggles (to prevent eye
contact with stray hot wires) and
(b) explicit warnings against con-
Summer 2017 85
ducting such experiments outside
of class. Using batteries, wires,
and bulbs, students then collec-
tively experiment and develop
criteria for producing light. This
experience provides background
knowledge for subsequent read-
ings and for projects described in
activities 4–7.
Activity 3: Volta’s circuit
Students review circuits through
their discussion of a quick prob-
lem set that asks which of a series
of circuit diagrams would result
in lighting a bulb; this activity is
common to electricity unit mate-
rials. Teachers facilitate and en-
courage students to try out their
hypotheses with the available
materials (bulbs, wires, and bat-
teries). After this 20-minute ac-
tivity, the participants read about
Alessandro Volta, who lived dur-
ing the 1700s. His pursuits in
understanding lightning began
in his youth and led to his inven-
tion of the electric circuit. Our
students were surprised about
his use of animal parts (e.g., frog
legs) during this time, thus lead-
ing to discussions about available
resources and animal rights dur-
ing the 1700s. Through a guided,
whole-group discussion, students
are asked to draw comparisons
between their previous making
activity and Volta’s multiple tri-
als, which eventually led to the
rst successful circuit.
Activity 4: Circuits
everywhere
The making sessions provide
hands-on opportunities for stu-
dents to use science and engi-
neering. We use a device called
a Makey Makey, composed of
a circuit board and a USB cable
that allows everyday objects (e.g.,
bananas, aluminum foil) to be
converted into the equivalent of
keyboard signals, which can then
be used to control computer pro-
grams written by students. For ex-
ample, students may connect piec-
es of fruit to the device and write
a short program so that touching
the pieces of fruit results in play-
ing a song. We combined the de-
vice with Scratch Programming
(see Resources), software that al-
lows students to create complex
computer programs without wor-
rying about the syntax required in
more traditional, text-based pro-
gramming languages (see Hansen
et al. 2015 for an example).
Students further explore elec-
trical circuitry using circuit boards
and the block-based computer
programming language of Scratch.
Following brief introductions to
the materials, students are asked
to use their knowledge about cir-
cuits, Scratch programming, and
the Makey Makey circuit board
to create animations that can be
activated using a “spacebar,” an
arrow key, or a mouse click. That
is, by connecting the board to the
computer and creating a program
with Scratch, students can then
connect conductive objects (e.g.,
modeling clay, aluminum foil,
fruit) to the Makey Makey. When
that object is then touched by an-
other person, completing a circuit,
the Makey Makey sends a signal
to the computer indicating that
the key has been pressed, thereby
activating the program written by
the student. Students’ programs
included a shark eating a sh, a
cat chasing a dog, and a person
singing.
Activity 5: A sensing sock
During this literacy-based ses-
sion, students read about Kenneth
Shinozuka, who invented a sock
with a pressure sensor that would
detect when his grandfather, who
suffered from Alzheimer’s disease,
was walking around at night, and
then text caregivers to alert them.
The class begins with an observa-
tion activity: Students are shown
a video and asked to record what
they observe (i.e., behaviors of an
elderly man with Alzheimer’s).
The contents of this video high-
light the problem that Shinozuka
experienced and serve as a foun-
dation for learning new vocabu-
lary through the Innovation Story.
Following a group discussion of
the reading, students review all
the Innovation Stories introduced
to this point and place these events
in order on a timeline.
Activity 6: Making a pressure
sensor
The following day, students de-
vise their own switch that re-
sponds to being pressed. This
class begins with a video-recorded
news story and discussion of Shi-
nozuka’s invention. Students are
asked to recall information from
the previous day’s reading. After
86
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY
a demonstration of a simple pres-
sure-activated switch constructed
from cotton balls and aluminum
foil, students begin making their
own sensors using materials such
as modeling clay and cotton balls
(see Figure 2). Students then con-
nect their pressure-sensor systems
to their computer programs.
Activity 7: Sharing maker
projects
After a brief review using stu-
dents’ notes, videos, and a discus-
sion, students continue working
on the projects they started during
Activity 4. Some of our students
focused almost exclusively on
perfecting their Scratch program,
whereas others reworked the
physical objects that would work
as a “spacebar” or switch. Our
students’ nal projects included
a clay model of a bus driver that
laughed when touched, a tree key
that caused a cartoon shark to eat
a sh, and a replica aluminum
foil keyboard that prompted a
sprite (an animation of a person)
to rotate as if breakdancing. Each
student or pair had the opportu-
nity to share the creations with the
group.
Implementing the
activities
Each of the activities described
above lasts less than one hour and
involves a wide range of tools and
materials. To implement the activi-
ties in a classroom of 30 students,
students should rst be organized
into smaller cooperative groups
of four to six. Whole-class discus-
sions prior to and following the ac-
tivities help make visible the ideas
and discoveries that each group
experiences. Further, several col-
laborative reading approaches can
guide teachers in facilitating group
reading sessions (in four-member
groups). Each student in the group
can take on a particular role to sup-
port comprehension of the Innova-
tion Stories. Collaborative Strate-
gic Reading is one such approach
that has been found to boost read-
ing comprehension for elementary
and secondary students (Board-
man et al. 2015). Descriptions, in-
structions, and all materials are
freely available (see Resources).
Conclusion
Throughout this program, we ob-
served and recorded our students’
works-in-progress as prototypes
were created. These collected re-
cords showed us student gains
in new knowledge and a general
understanding of the innovation
process. For example, several of
our students noted that they had
no idea that phosphorescence was
a natural phenomenon. Such inte-
gration of knowledge from textual
sources is a key CCSS ELA stan-
dard (e.g., CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.
RI.6.7; NGAC and CCSSO 2010).
Further, our students demonstrat-
ed their ability to quickly navigate
the Scratch programming tool,
taking less time than anticipated
to set up and execute a variety of
coded actions.
We view the inclusion of the In-
novation Stories as a form of cul-
turally responsive instruction, in
that students are able to share per-
sonal experiences that relate to the
characters in the stories. All texts
were developed to reect a diver-
sity of innovators based on age,
gender, cultural background, and
ability (Au 2009). We would often
| FIGURE 2: Students working on a pressure-activated switch
Summer 2017 87
Diana J. Arya is assistant professor, Danielle Harlow (dharlow@education.ucsb.edu) is associate professor, Alexandria K.
Hansen and Lois Harmon are PhD candidates, Jasmine McBeath is a graduate student, and Javier Pulgar is a graduate
student, all in the Department of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in Santa Barbara, California.
ask our students what they were
passionate about and ideas that
they would like to develop, which
was a way to adapt texts to make
the content more meaningful and
less abstract for students. Most
of all, this showed our students
that they could be innovators, no
matter their ages or abilities. The
nature of the tasks and the num-
ber of hands-on tools and tech-
nologies also make this program
accessible to students of varying
levels of abilities and skills.
The collaborative nature of
this program allows for a diverse
population of students to help one
another and apply or reference
what they learned from previous
lessons during their exchanges
with one another. One of the
greatest surprises from this proj-
ect was that even though students
had materials, understandings,
purposes, and workspace in com-
mon, they created vastly different
products. For example, one stu-
dent used her knowledge of the
sock sensor to create a miniature
Eiffel Tower that would light up,
whereas another student created
a “cushy keyboard” that would
move a sprite derived from the
Scratch program.
Our students developed their
knowledge about and interest in
science and engineering through
these activities, as evidenced in
their eagerness to engage in ev-
ery activity and their success-
ful completion of nal projects.
Given enough time, space, and
materials, students can engage
in, investigate, and create new
knowledge and innovations. Such
an experience fosters a sense of
ownership, condence, and adap-
tive expertise, giving students the
problem-solving skills needed for
solving new problems in unfamil-
iar contexts (Martin, Dixon, and
Hagood 2014; Petrich, Wilkinson,
and Bevan 2013). Through the
deliberate integration of making
and literacy activities, we are be-
ginning to foster such adaptive
problem solving, a required skill
for successful engagement in 21st-
century studies and careers. What
we found to be important was not
the specic technology used but
the coordinated stories of inno-
vation coupled with engineering
or making tasks that used simi-
lar content while being exible
enough to allow students to use
their own creativity to construct
novel innovations.
REFERENCES
Arya, D.J., and A. Maul. 2012. The role
of the scientific discovery narrative
in middle school science education:
An experimental study. Journal of
Educational Psychology 104 (4):
1022–32.
Au, K., and J. Kaomea. 2009. Reading
comprehension and diversity in
historical perspective: Literacy,
power, and Native Hawaiians. In
Handbook of research on reading
comprehension, ed. S.E. Israel and
G.G. Duffy, 571–86.
Boardman, A.G., J.K. Klingner, P. Buckley,
S. Annamma, and C.J. Lasser.
2015. The efficacy of Collaborative
Strategic Reading in middle school
science and social studies classes.
Reading and Writing 28 (9):
1257–83.
Cohen, E.G., and R.A. Lotan. 2014.
Designing groupwork: Strategies
for the heterogeneous classroom.
3rd ed. New York: Teachers College
Press.
Fisher, D., N. Frey, and D. Lapp. 2012.
Text complexity: Raising rigor in
reading. Newark, DE: International
Reading Association.
Hansen, A., A. Iveland, H. Dwyer, D.
Harlow, and D. Franklin. 2015.
Programming science digital
stories: Computer science and
engineering design in the science
classroom. Science and Children 53
(3): 60–64.
Kelly, R.B. 2016. Engaging in creative
practice: From design thinking
to design doing. In Creative
development: Transforming
education through design thinking,
innovation, and invention, ed. R.
Kelly, 57–68.
Martin, L., C. Dixon, and D. Hagood.
2014. Distributed adaptations
in youth making. Presentation
at FabLearn2013. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University.
NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next
Generation Science Standards:
For states, by states. Washington,
DC: National Academies Press.
www.nextgenscience.org/next-
generation-science-standards.
Parker, R., G. Tindal, and J. Hasbrouck.
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INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY
Journal 2 (1): 1–17.
Petrich, M., K. Wilkinson, and B. Bevan.
2013. It looks like fun, but are they
learning? In Design make play:
Growing the next generation of STEM
innovators, ed. M. Honey and D.
Kanter, 50–70. New York: Routledge.
Proceedings from FabLearn 2014:
Conference on Creativity and
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CA: FabLearn.
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RESOURCES
Materials
We used the Makey Makey: An invention
kit for everyone (approximately $50)
available through MakerShed.com,
Amazon.com, Adafruit.com and other
online retailers. A simpler version,
Makey Makey Go (approximately $25),
is available at shop.makeymakey.
com. Scratch programming can also
be connected to physical objects
through robotic kits such as the
Lego Wedo robots (approximately
$140, available at shop.education.
lego.com), and the arduino-based
robotic kit mBot (approximately $75
available at www.makeblock.cc).
Online
Invent to Learn—http://inventtolearn.
com
Making conductive dough—http://bit.
ly/2lBlrv1
Science in Action video—www.youtube.
com/watch?v=xXi4WiMdNEA
Science Discovery Narratives—http://
tinyurl.com/klzn7mw
Scratch programming software—
https://scratch.mit.edu
Shinozuka news story—www.youtube.
com/watch?v=bpHgUVyLDlM
Using Collaborative Strategic Reading—
http://bit.ly/2nG8bBT
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Summer 2017 89
... All girls visited six labs, and each small group of four girls was responsible for interviewing and writing about two scientists for a book the girls created together. Participants also read about famous women scientists, created art for their books, and presented their work at a final showcase (Arya & McBeath, 2017). The format was similar for Year 2, but the focus shifted from STEM to STEAM (adding arts). ...
... At the beginning of the pilot year, eight of the nine participants in a focus group agreed that only adults could innovate and that everything had already been invented (Arya et al., 2017). To counteract this notion, we had participants read stories about young inventors, connect these stories to their own family histories and personal experiences, and create their own inventions. ...
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Funders and policymakers are increasingly recognizing the afterschool field for its vital role in supporting the social and emotional growth and academic achievement of school-age youth. Although this recognition is welcome, it often comes with increased expectations for high-quality research demonstrating the value of programming. To satisfy these demands and make the most of funding opportunities, practitioners must develop strong partnerships with external evaluators. However, developing afterschool evaluation partnerships that work well for all parties is often far more difficult than program directors or evaluators anticipate.
... All girls visited six labs, and each small group of four girls was responsible for interviewing and writing about two scientists for a book the girls created together. Participants also read about famous women scientists, created art for their books, and presented their work at a final showcase (Arya & McBeath, 2017). The format was similar for Year 2, but the focus shifted from STEM to STEAM (adding arts). ...
... At the beginning of the pilot year, eight of the nine participants in a focus group agreed that only adults could innovate and that everything had already been invented (Arya et al., 2017). To counteract this notion, we had participants read stories about young inventors, connect these stories to their own family histories and personal experiences, and create their own inventions. ...
Article
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“I am a scientist. I’m not like a scientist.” We were excited to hear this response from one of the girls who participated in our afterschool program focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The STEMinist Program was a research-practice collaboration between university researchers and an afterschool program for female students in grades 4 to 6. This article describes how the program’s ongoing design transformations increased girls’ understanding of and interest in STEM. Design-based framing (Barab & Squire, 2009) enabled ongoing adjustments to the program while also identifying best practices for afterschool STEM learning. To understand the program’s progression and outcomes, we examined the features of the learning environment and the relationships among design components by analyzing qualitative data collected before, during, and after program implementation. Participants’ perceptions of science and scientists helped us understand the impact of the program and ways to improve it.
... We believe that future SOR studies would do well to attend to these important contextual matters and how they affect comprehension performance and development. As one example of such work, findings from this study inspired the recent development of community-based programs (e.g., Arya et al., 2017) that focus on connecting young students with the scientific community, as well as a related program for young girls and nonbinary children in a project that positioned them as coauthors of a book about the work of 12 women scientists and engineers (Arya & McBeath, 2018). ...
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Our purpose in this study was to more deeply understand the ways in which text‐based, sociohistorically situated narratives can be optimally used for promoting reading comprehension. In particular, we sought to understand the experiences and perspectives of young readers from diverse backgrounds (N = 24) as they engaged with science discovery narratives (i.e., stories by or about scientists engaged in the process of discovery), which have been shown to have advantages over traditional expository texts (i.e., those that present information without attending to the discovery process) in fostering comprehension of targeted conceptual information. Interviews were conducted and analyzed using a sociocognitive framework that positioned participants as reviewers of text quality. Findings suggest that the personal and sociohistorical elements of science discovery narratives were effective in engaging readers’ interest and helped highlight the culturally situated nature of knowledge and the nature and processes of scientific inquiry. We conclude by arguing that in the development and instructional use of texts, educators would do well to consider the ways in which foregrounding sociohistorical considerations can foster engagement and, hence, greater comprehension in readers from diverse backgrounds.
... The students from these two classrooms who took the SUM now participate in a collaborative strategic reading curriculum offered as part of our university-school partnership. This program is similar to the original CSR program, with the added components of critical reading and civic engagement within interdisciplinary learning contexts (Arya & Maul, 2016;Arya et al., 2017;McBeath, Harlow, Arya & Longitin, in press). The program emphasizes small-group configurations involving both heterogeneous reading discussion groups (Spanish bilingual speakers teaching Englishonly speakers related cognates) and differentiated instructional practice (e.g., identifying those students who would benefit from word games related to morphemes), based on research demonstrating the benefits of differentiated instruction for developing specific knowledge and skills (Tieso, 2003;Steenbergen-Hu, Makel & Olszewski-Kubilius, 2016) as well as fostering heterogeneous peer groups for building confidence and classroom community (Belfi, Goos, De Fraine, & Van Damme, 2012;Oakes, 2008). ...
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This study describes the development and validation of a multidimensional measure of preadolescent and adolescent readers’ abilities to apply reading comprehension strategies necessary for understanding challenging academic texts. The Strategy Use Measure (SUM) was designed with the intention of being pedagogically informative to the increasingly multilingual student population in the U.S. in grades 6 through 8. The SUM aims to measure four areas of knowledge and skill that are widely purported to support the use of reading strategies: (a) morphological awareness, (b) knowledge of cognates, (c) ability to relate micro- and macro- ideas within a text, and (d) the ability to use intra- and inter-sentential context clues for defining unfamiliar words. The test was developed following a principled, iterative process to instrument development, employing Rasch models and qualitative investigations to test hypotheses related to the instrument’s validity. Findings suggest promising evidence for the validity and fairness of this multidimensional measure.
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This study investigated the efficacy of a multi-component reading comprehension instructional approach, Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR), compared to business-as-usual instructional methods with 19 teachers and 1074 students in middle school social studies and science classrooms in a large urban district. Researchers collaborated with school personnel to provide teachers with ongoing professional development and classroom support. Using an experimental design, teachers’ classrooms were assigned either to CSR or to a business-as-usual comparison condition. Multi-level analyses showed that students receiving CSR instruction scored higher on a standardized reading comprehension assessment compared to their peers in comparison classrooms (g = 0.18, p < 0.05). While implementation varied across classrooms, students in the CSR condition were observed using CSR strategies and working together in small groups. Teachers attended to the quality of student work and provided more feedback when teaching CSR. CSR is an effective method to improve the reading comprehension of adolescents and to increase their access to complex informational text.
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In an experimental study (N = 209), the authors compared the effects of exposure to typical middle-school written science content when presented in the context of the scientific discovery narrative and when presented in a more traditional nonnarrative format on 7th and 8th grade students in the United States. The development of texts was controlled so as to isolate the presence of the discovery narrative structure as the independent variable; outcome measures were developed according to the BEAR Assessment framework to be sensitive to a range of levels of understanding of presented information and to focus only on the conceptual material presented in the texts. Students exposed to the scientific discovery narrative performed significantly better on both immediate and delayed outcome measures. These findings are discussed in the context of a larger argument for the inclusion of the scientific discovery narrative in science instruction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
We examined five countable indices of writing quality for suitability in making special education screening‐eligibility decisions, collecting writing samples for 2,160 students in Grades 2 to 11 from two school districts. We examined the sensitivity of the writing indices around potential screening cutoff points on histograms and percentile line graphs with 68% standard error bands. In addition, we assessed criterion validity within each grade level by correlating the writing indices with teachers' holistic judgments of writing quality. Of the five indices, the percentage of words spelled correctly in a 3‐minute writing sample showed greatest measurement sensitivity for screening applications. If Grade 2 were excluded, the percentage of correct word sequences could be recommended as an alternative scoring method. Large standard errors of measurement, however, indicated the need for caution in interpreting score differences. Because we could not reliably differentiate scores 30 to 40 percentile points apart, grouping students from screening results may result in an unacceptable number of false‐positives and false‐negatives.
Reading comprehension and diversity in historical perspective: Literacy, power, and Native Hawaiians
  • K Au
  • J Kaomea
Au, K., and J. Kaomea. 2009. Reading comprehension and diversity in historical perspective: Literacy, power, and Native Hawaiians. In Handbook of research on reading comprehension, ed. S.E. Israel and G.G. Duffy, 571-86.
Text complexity: Raising rigor in reading
  • D Fisher
  • N Frey
  • D Lapp
Fisher, D., N. Frey, and D. Lapp. 2012. Text complexity: Raising rigor in reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Engaging in creative practice: From design thinking to design doing
  • R B Kelly
Kelly, R.B. 2016. Engaging in creative practice: From design thinking to design doing. In Creative development: Transforming education through design thinking, innovation, and invention, ed. R. Kelly, 57-68.
Distributed adaptations in youth making. Presentation at FabLearn2013
  • L Martin
  • C Dixon
  • D Hagood
Martin, L., C. Dixon, and D. Hagood. 2014. Distributed adaptations in youth making. Presentation at FabLearn2013. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.