Julie Monet: Using Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface & Human Activity in Concepts in Earth & Space Science
About this Course
A 300-level geology course for pre-service teachers.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 113kB Jul6 14)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
This module was taught in an upper-level Earth science course for students preparing to be elementary school teachers. Over the last four years years of teaching this course, I have continually revised the curriculum to promote a greater emphasis on the relevancy of Earth science in students' everyday experiences. A key component in this effort has been a stronger connection to examples and applications of Earth science concepts and processes in the city, county and state where students live. While teaching the module about the interactions between the hydrologic cycle, fluvial processes and human activity, I found multiple opportunities to connect the topic under investigation to examples in the local geologic landscape. My success story in teaching this module is highlighted by a noticeable shift in how students think about water. There was a significant change from the conceptualization of water as a stand-alone process to one that was reflective of a systems approach to thinking about water. I also felt that the integration of societal issues successfully prompted students to be more cognizant of the interconnectedness of water across all Earth systems.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate MaterialsTeaching with InTeGrate materials was a learning experience for me as well as my students. Typically I teach this course with a focus on science concepts, pedagogical strategies for teaching Earth science concepts, and a metacognitive component to encourage reflective practice. This is the first time I have integrated societal issues within the structure of the curriculum. I found that the connection of societal issues embedded throughout the module fostered critical thinking, and provided me with talking points for group questions and class discussion. I found the benefit of situating social issues in the local landscape gave even more relevancy to students' everyday experiences. I noticed more questions relative to water issues than in previous semesters when I did not use the InTeGrate module. Where was the source for their drinking water? How they could find out if they lived in a flood zone? What could they do as citizens to sustain the quality of the creek that runs directly through campus? These questions from students signaled to me that they were reflecting on what they were learning and applying it outside the classroom.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
Students began the Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity module slightly more than halfway through the semester. Previous to the implementation of the InTeGrate materials, students had completed two major unit sections: one on Earth Materials, and one on Earth's Deformation and Internal Processes. The Integrate materials began the third unit section on Near-surface and Surface processes and highlighted the interactions between the rock cycle and the hydrologic cycle. The overall goal was for students see the interactions between Earth systems and processes, with the consideration of how a change in one system might affect another.
When introducing each unit section and the sub-units within each section, I typically pose a question to students on how the topic under investigation is connected to the previous unit. At the end of the unit section, I revisit the overarching question. For example, at the beginning of unit two I asked students to consider how the rock cycle is connected to plate tectonics. At the start of unit 3 (the InTeGrate module) I asked how the hydrologic cycle interacts with the rock cycle and the rock cycle with plate tectonics.
The InTeGrate module Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity is especially relevant for students in my course who are preparing to be future teachers because it is well aligned with the disciplinary core and crosscutting ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Note: Assessment and scoring rubrics for each unit are located on the specific unit page.
I used all of the assessments provided in the module and then included some questions about the unit on a subsequent exam. When I assigned the flood brochure at the end of Unit 3, it was helpful to students if I gave them a list of websites to get started with researching local floods. After several iterations of this project, I found students were more apt to spend quality time investigating the history of local floods if I assigned the project as extended homework. I also spent a few minutes at the end of class having students share any anecdotal evidence they had collected from family or friends who had firsthand experience. A surprisingly large percentage of students shared stories and personal experiences which provided an added relevancy to the topic.
Piloting the curriculum and comparing findings among all three module developers provided the opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the module. Overall the InTeGrate materials worked to help students meet the learning goals identified for this module.