2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 27
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


DUGGAN-HAAS, Donald, Department of Educational Studies, Colgate University, 418 Alumni Hall, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346, ROSS, Robert M., Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 and HUMBERT, S. Elizabeth, Paleontological Rsch Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, rmr16@cornell.edu

The ReaL (REgional and Local) Earth System Inquiry project facilitates inquiry-oriented teaching about local and regional geology through professional development (PD) and associated materials. Real-world geology is a good candidate for inquiry because: (1) questions can be asked that draw on knowledge that students bring to the classroom, increasing relevance, engagement and esteem, and building from prior conceptions, (2) inquiry is facilitated by hands-on experiences, which invites the use of abundant local natural objects; and (3) our ultimate goal is for students to leave the class asking (and answering) questions in their own lives, which will likely involve their own region. The PD explicitly targets beginning secondary school teachers and those new to teaching Earth science, who are relatively likely to struggle with applications of real-world Earth science to their generalized curricula.

A week-long summer institute targeted skill development in inquiry-oriented approaches to the teaching of local and regional geology. Since the structure and funding of secondary schools typically provides few opportunities for field trips, the PD concentrated on providing tools for teachers to bring real-world geology into the classroom for problem- and discussion-based learning. In the Institute teachers participated collaboratively in learning how to collect images, video, and specimens from the field for virtual field trips that can be used to address specific pedagogical goals.

An existing resource that provides content knowledge for the PD, The Teacher Friendly Guide to the Geology of the Northeastern U.S. (Ansley, 2000), is being revised to more directly support inquiry-oriented teaching; this year revision of the Guide is part of the PD. The resource is integrated into a yearlong PD experience including the institute, electronic-network among the teachers, carefully chosen teacher mentors, and classroom-based evaluation. After the institute, teachers are to take their students both on the collaboratively-designed fieldtrip and on self-designed virtual fieldtrips. The virtual fieldtrips undergo a peer-review process in which teachers evaluate each other's work using criteria they helped to develop. Effective approaches will be captured in video and vignettes to be shared with other teachers.