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Rodger Hauge: Using Soils and Society at Eastern Washington University

About this Course

An introductory methods course intended for pre-service K–8 teachers.

25
students
Two 150-minute lecture/lab sessions
weekly
Regional
university
Syllabus (Microsoft Word 155kB Aug27 15)

The 10-week, 5-credit course is designed to prepare undergraduate elementary education majors to teach science and social studies in the elementary classroom. The class is split 50/50 science and social studies. Topics taught that related to the soils module included mapping, weather, plus rocks and minerals.

Course Goals:

  • Outcome 1: Candidates will conduct an investigation with some science or social studies concept. The requirement will be met by the candidate describing his/her initial observations that led to the choice of the topic, providing background information that describes the concept, generating a hypothesis or problem statement, presenting a list of materials, a procedure, results in tabular, graphic, and narrative form, plus conclusions and ideas for further work. This work may be done individually or in a small group of two if the concept explored merits the work of more than one candidate.
  • Outcome 2: Candidates will design two unit plans of three to five lessons each. One of the unit plans will be a soils unit; the other unit may focus on alternative energy. The soils unit will be in support of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded curricular project on elementary soils curriculum. Candidates will produce an artifact box that contains among other things: Lesson plans, student activities, artifacts, lists of materials needed, maps (1–2), charts (1–2), images (8–12), references, and other material as needed. The topic of the soils unit will be a local, regional, national, or international societal problem around soils. The soils unit will be presented to the class in a joint poster session in the ninth or tenth week of class. The alternative energy unit may support the emerging Sustainability Center on campus. This unit may have a senior engineering student or two as partners. Both the soils unit and the Alternative Energy unit will be taught in your placement if at all possible. You may choose to opt out of the sustainability unit. If you do you will be required to produce a science unit on a topic of your choice. You may choose to be involved in both projects. All lessons will be in the TPA lesson plan format. You will use the TPA Format 2 from Taskstream.
  • Outcome 3: Candidates will design a field trip lesson plan to a designated area in the "TPA format 2" lesson plan format. The field trip will be in the area of science or social studies. This plan will include one quantitative inquiry activity that is done in the field. Additionally candidates will prepare a brochure suitable to be sent home to inform parents of the coming activity.
  • Outcome 4: Candidates will complete a performance-based final administered in class. Each candidate will have an individual content topic from science or social studies and their final will include student background information, a lesson plan, a completed data recording instrument, and a reflection on the inquiry processes used in the lesson.

Course Content

EDUC 339 Methods of teaching science and social studies is a 5-credit course designed to prepare elementary pre-service teachers to teach science and social studies in grades K–8. It reviews lesson planning and assessment. It delves into ways that both science and social studies can be taught with inquiry, using systems as a learning approach, and by developing a sense of grade appropriateness in the pre-service teacher. During this time the pre-service teachers are doing their first quarter long period with a class of elementary students.


A Success Story in Building Student Engagement

I implemented the pilot three different times. The first experience was the most successful. It was the instructional mode that determined this success.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials

During the first pilot I provided a lot of background information. I worked with the students as individuals, small groups, and as a whole class to integrate their lessons, artifacts, maps, images, and other Kit and lab materials. We frequently talked about the progress and the relation of the materials and processes to their work. The Kit was presented on the last day of class. The students were engaged and did a marvelous job. The third pilot was done by the book and was done in only three weeks. Little depth of background knowledge could be shared. The results were less than gratifying.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

The module was introduced on the first day of class. The soils activities were accomplished in the second week of class. An inquiry activity was done in week one with the soils activities done in week two. Mapping, weather, and geography topics were spread throughout the quarter. Frequent individual, group, and whole class discussions helped the students develop their kit.

The prep work for Unit 1 was done in the first week of class. This included the paperwork, tests, and the introduction of the soils module and Kit.

The soils activities were accomplished in week two. Background knowledge and work periods were used in week two to facilitate the Kit process.

In the official pilot the gallery walk took place in week three.

Assessments

I used formative methods of assessment with my pilots for the soils activities. It was the beginning of the quarter. Many students had difficulties with lab procedures—soil was a brand new concept for them. Treating this process with formative evaluation worked. I used the rubrics to evaluate their Kits. I looked closely at their lesson plans, reviewed their materials and classroom activities, and evaluated how the Kit met their goals.

Outcomes

Using the module as a quarter-long theme works. The instructor has time to interact with his/her students. The students have the time to do quality work and to develop their own themes. They get the chance to see how soil fits into Earth systems, plus how soil is bound up in our society. They also get to communicate between themselves and reinforce all the parts of the creation they are assembling. A three-week segment grafted onto the syllabus is not appropriate.

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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 »