Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 4:55 PM
ENVIRONMENTAL LITERACY AND INQUIRY: A GEOSPATIAL CURRICULUM TO SUPPORT MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
Environmental issues pertaining to energy resources, climate change, and land use change are quite complex, involve understanding new scientific research findings, and entail thinking skills for interpreting data that are geospatial in nature. Teaching and learning about geospatial aspects of Earth science requires that science teachers apply effective science pedagogical approaches to implement geospatial technologies into classroom instruction. Teacher professional development can be highly effective when designed to accompany a particular curriculum that will be adopted and implemented in the classroom. As part of an ongoing systemic curriculum reform initiative to promote (1) environmental literacy and inquiry and (2) the development of geospatial thinking skills with geospatial technologies as an essential component of the middle school science curriculum, we developed three curriculum units: Energy (40 day instructional sequence), Climate (21 days), and Land Use Change (20 days) (http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/). The units include embedded supports designed to assist teacher development of both Earth science content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge for effective curriculum enactment. We developed these supports to address the need to provide “just in time” professional development experiences to help educate teachers about important Earth science topics and to support their development of geospatial pedagogical content knowledge to teach with a novel curriculum that promotes geospatial thinking skills that are important for investigating a range of environmental issues in our society. Teachers’ implementation of these units has resulted in increased science content knowledge of both teachers and students. Our implementation findings also reveal growth in teachers’ pedagogical design capacity to use GIS and virtual globes for the teaching of environmental sciences to a diversity of classroom learners.