2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


NAGY-SHADMAN, Elizabeth A.1, KEYANTASH, John2, KING, Judith2 and SIMILA, Gerry3, (1)School of Science and Mathematics - Geology Department, Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA 91106, (2)Department of Earth Sciences, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Dominguez Hills, CA 90747, (3)Geological Sciences, California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330-8266, eanagy-shadman@pasadena.edu

Professional educators at the kindergarten to University level are well aware of the benefits to students of the use of inquiry- or discovery-based instruction instead of straight lecture or cookbook laboratory exercises. However, it is natural for instructors to fall back upon the latter, more traditional teaching methods because there is a lack of time, energy, know-how, and funding to teach in such an unfamiliar yet creative manner. SCALE (System-wide Change for All Learners and Educators) is a large-scale, NSF-funded program based out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that teaches individuals involved in professional development (PD) how to teach K-12 instructors to run lessons that are fundamentally grounded on the “engage-explore-explain” principle rather than the “explain-investigate to confirm” traditional approach. We have used our PD techniques with K-12 instructors from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation's second largest school district (over 700,000 students) for the past three years. To support the “engage-explore-explain” educational model, SCALE-led workshops provide content knowledge, pedagogical devices, scripts with options, and succinct, inexpensive instructional resources that teachers can comfortably use and appreciate. The weeklong workshops cover earth science subjects that are linked to California state science content standards for weather (5th grade) and plate tectonics (6th grade). Life and physical science workshops were also in the program. A team of four facilitators runs each workshop, generally representing the four groups involved in SCALE (a university-based content expert, an LAUSD representative, a SCALE representative, and an LAUSD teacher who has already been through the program). Although the program assessments are not complete, preliminary analysis of classroom observational data demonstrates that there are key pedagogical changes to the delivery of classroom lessons as a result of the PD. This is consistent with the enthusiasm displayed by the students, the teachers, and the PD participants. Instructors who have used the units find kinesthetic activities in the lessons help EL students solidify concepts and ideas, helping them recall the information in picture form that can be translated into words or drawings of their own.