THE POTENTIAL TO DEVELOP AND SHARE DEEP UNDERSTANDINGS OF PLACE THROUGH VIRTUAL FIELDWORK AND BROADCASTING FROM THE FIELD
As a complement to this field trip, with K-12 teachers as part of the target audience, we are working to develop a Virtual Fieldwork Experience (VFE) of the field sites visited. The presentation will demonstrate the technology and discuss how it can be used to connect our program participants’ classroom to one another, and engage teachers and students in teaching one another about their local environments. VFE development can also cut across grade levels and subjects. The driving question for the ReaL Earth Inquiry Project is, “Why does this place look the way it does?” At the start of the project, we targeted specifically Earth science teachers, but in most places, the answer to this question involves understandings connected to, but stretching far beyond the Earth sciences. As the project moved ahead, biology and environmental science teachers have frequently been involved. In most places where people spend time, of course, the environment has been profoundly shaped by human activity.
Investigating why a place looks the way it does opens the opportunity for teachers and students to unearth the story of their environment in a way that interweaves the curriculum but also allows subject area teachers to focus on their content area. Most units in both Earth science and biology courses play out in some fairly direct way outside the schoolhouse door. Deep and connected learning across grade levels and subject areas resonates with the systems approach that is central to NGSS.