BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: THE IMPERATIVE AND OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE ALL FUTURE TEACHERS IN EARTH SCIENCE
As Earth scientists and educators, our imperative is to increase Earth literacy of future (and current) teachers. The recent adoption by many states of the Next Generation Science Standards provides an opportunity to modify both individual courses and entire teacher preparation curricula to align with the 3-dimensional learning promoted by the standards. The emphasis in the NGSS on human interactions with Earth and on applying science and engineering practices to content knowledge opens the door to incorporating locally-relevant issues into curricula.
InTeGrate, NSF’s GEO-STEP Center focused on teaching about Earth in the context of societal issues, has developed new, freely available classroom materials for incorporation into elementary and secondary science methods courses; the rigorously reviewed and tested materials incorporate explicit learning about practices used by Earth scientists, engagement in data-rich activities, and lesson-planning that aligns with the NGSS. Additional materials were developed for introductory, general education courses in Earth science, where the vast majority of future teachers encounter their only Earth science content. Students in classes where these materials were used experienced gains in Earth literacy as measured by the geoscience literacy exam (GLE) developed by the project.
In addition, InTeGrate is supporting the development of models for institutional and statewide collaboration to rethink teacher preparation in light of new emphases on Earth, sustainability, and integrated science in the NGSS. Results from these programs will be made available for adoption.