InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Exploring Geoscience Methods > Instructor Materials: Module Overview
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Instructor Materials: Overview of the Geoscience Methods Module

Module Goal: Pre-service secondary science teachers explore geoscientific thinking in comparison to the generalized (experimental) scientific method, investigate global climate change and its impact on human systems, explore high-quality resources for teaching about geoscience, and prepare interdisciplinary lessons that address geoscience methods and content along with other scientific or social science content.

Background

The Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS 1993), the National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996) and the Next Generation Science Standards (2013) highlight the importance of teaching geoscience content and methods in K–12 classrooms as a means to developing a geoscience literate society. With decreasing natural resources, specific hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, storm surge, and more pervasive but subtle changes such as those occurring with the global climate, it is more important than ever for society to understand the planet we inhabit. The importance of teaching geoscience, especially in high school, is further underscored by position statements from the Geological Society of America (GSA), the American Geophysical Union (AGU, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) and the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA).

Rationale

This module introduces the distinctive methods of geoscience to future middle and high school science teachers, who may have little experience with the geosciences. In short, the goal is for the students to understand how the methods of geoscience are similar to and different from the stereotypical experimental scientific method (e.g., National Science Teachers Association position statement on the Nature of Science). By understanding the methods of geoscience, pre-service teachers will be better equipped to develop interdisciplinary lessons that leverage geoscience thinking and content in the teaching of other sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) or social sciences.

Summative Assessment: Student success in this module is assessed through the creation of a standards-based interdisciplinary lesson for the secondary science classroom that embeds geoscientific thinking into biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, or social science education.

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

The purpose of this module is to introduce pre-service secondary science teachers to the methods of geoscience thinking, engage them in such methods and provide an opportunity to gather curricular resources for future teaching practice. After reading and evaluating informational articles about the methods of geoscience, students engage in an authentic and data-rich, lab-based activity that uses multiple digital tools to analyze and interpret data, address a real-world problem, make hypotheses, support claims and construct arguments from evidence. The final unit engages students in developing a full lesson plan based on the resource that emphasizes the methods of geoscience.

Module Description

This module is intended for use in middle-level or secondary science methods courses. It will take approximately six hours of class time plus substantial homework. The module is designed to introduce future secondary science teachers to geoscientific thinking and to utilize these techniques in solving a societal problem through a systems approach. Pre-service teachers then incorporate this knowledge in constructing interdisciplinary lessons for secondary science students. Parts of this module may be done outside of class time and some aspects (e.g., parts of Unit 2 and much of Unit 3) may be adaptable to online use.

Global climate change and its effects on coastal systems was chosen as the vehicle for exploring the methods of geoscience owing to the importance of the topic for society and because of the tremendous volume of data available for building lessons and activities. The importance of global climate change affecting society is underscored in position statements from GSA, AGU and NAGT.

Unit 1How Do the Methods of Geoscience Compare to the Scientific Method?

Unit 1 expands pre-service teachers' understanding of the processes of science through exploration of how geoscience methods differ from stereotypical experimental science methods, and how they can enrich their students' learning through integrating geoscience methods and content into their teaching practices.

Unit 2Climate Change: After the Storm

Unit 2 of this module applies pre-service teachers' knowledge and understanding of geoscience methods (see Unit 1). They will complete an inquiry-oriented activity that focuses on damage from major coastal storms associated with global climate change. To address this high-interest issue, students need to apply their knowledge and understanding of geoscience methods as they complete a multi-part, inquiry-oriented geoscience activity. This includes students writing about the socioeconomic question of whether or how to rebuild after major storms that result from Earth's changing climate.

Unit 3Discovering Curricular Resources and Teaching Interdisciplinary Lessons that Incorporate the Methods of Geoscience

In Unit 3, pre-service teachers explore curricular resources for teaching geoscience content. They will prepare an annotated bibliography of instructional resources in the areas of geology, meteorology/climatology, oceanography, and astronomy. One of these resources will serve as the starting point for preparation of a lesson plan for a standards-based interdisciplinary lesson that utilizes geoscience methods and/or content to address a topic in either Earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, or a social science.

Epilogue

Interdisciplinary lessons that include geoscientific thinking and content are rich venues for exploring societal issues. Science educators who teach methods classes should give examples of how lessons can be linked to societal issues when they return graded lesson plans to the pre-service teachers. These examples may be instructor-provided or generated in a class discussion. Instructors should emphasize to pre-service teachers that societal issues can provide powerful means for engaging their students in the subject matter. Examples of such critical needs are provided by the American Geosciences Institute.

Summary

The arc of this module scaffolds the learning of pre-service teachers by first introducing the methods of geoscience and geoscientific thinking, giving students experience with utilizing these methods, and then applying their knowledge in the development of the interdisciplinary lesson plan. Class discussion regarding societal relevance and critical needs at the end of the module provide a broader context for the content prepared by the pre-service teachers.

Making the Module Work

This module would be most successful in a science teaching methods course if it occurred after significant scaffolding about pedagogy. The pre-service teachers need a working knowledge of lesson plan development (e.g. 5E or 7E structures) and K–12 science standards (NGSS) in order to be successful in this module. To adapt all or part of the Teaching Geoscience Methods to Secondary Education Students module for your classroom, you will also want to read through


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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »