Investigating the Flow of Matter and Energy in Earth Systems
Page prepared for SERC by Scott Linneman of Wester Washington University.
A discussion of the design and implementation of a course for elementary and middle school pre-service teachers at Western Washington University, created by Scott Linneman.
A description of the course is available.
What Role Does this Course Play in Teacher Preparation?
This course is the middle of a three quarter sequence designed for future elementary teachers. The sequence fulfills the General Education science requirement and may be the only college science courses these students take.
How does the Course Address Each Role?
The goal of the sequence is to provide deep conceptual learning experiences so that students gain confidence in their ability to learn science concepts on their own. SCED202 is the Earth Science part of the sequence, following a Physics course and prior to a Biology course.
How do Students Integrate Learning & Teaching?
The course is meant to provide an example of authentic guided inquiry teaching and learning. Because there is no lecture, students learn via carefully designed activities and by examining their own ideas about science concepts before and after the activities.
How does the Course Transition Pre-service Teachers into the Classroom?
Students take this sequence before they apply to the College of Education. We expect to see most of these students in the Elementary Science Teaching Methods class about one year after they complete the content sequence.
How is the Course Content Aligned with the National Science Education Standards?
This is not a survey course to 'cover' all the Earth Science concepts that an elementary teacher may be expected to teach. The ideas selected for the course are a small subset of the Earth and Space Science standards. But the selected concepts are deemed Big Ideas by the NSES and the AAAS Benchmarks.
How does the Course Meet Certification Requirements?
Washington elementary teachers need only fulfill their university graduation requirements in science (3 courses at WWU).
What Challenges have been Encountered in Teaching this Course? How have they been Resolved?
The biggest challenge, after writing and revising by committee, has been streamlining the curriculum to fit into one 10 week quarter. The Physics for Everyone (PET), after which our Earth and Life Science curricula are modeled, is a one-semester course. Our Earth Science team continues to re-evaluate student performance on pre- and post-tests to determine which objectives are best met by which parts of the curriculum.