2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 33-14
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


OYEWUMI, Oluyinka1, BALISCIANO, Nicholas2, THOMAS, Jeffrey1, DREW, Sally3, BEDNARSKI, Marsha1 and LARSEN, Kristine1, (1)Department of Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050, (2)Education & Workforce Development,, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT), East Hartford, CT 06108, (3)Department of Special Education and Interventions, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050, oyewumi@ccsu.edu

A major instructional shift of the Next Generation Science Standards is to blend disciplinary core ideas (e.g. water availability), science and engineering practices (e.g. constructing explanations), and crosscutting concepts (e.g. patterns) during instruction and assessment—this is known as “three-dimensional learning.” During this type of learning, students develop their understanding of disciplinary core ideas in response to questions about natural phenomena (e.g. why is water availability becoming endemic problems?) and then explain their hypotheses (theories for scientists) using evidence to support their explanations. This three-dimensional learning “framework” was the foundation to construct three middle school earth science units that was implemented with 32 middle school science teachers as part of a federally-funded Teacher Quality Partnership grant professional development (PD) experience. These teachers then adapt or adopt these units for implementation with their students.

The first unit from this PD was focused on water availability. It is a well-known that water scarcity is an endemic problem with nearly every region facing acute water shortages. Around one-fifth of the world's population live in areas of physical scarcity, with more approaching this situation. In the U.S., it seems implausible that a powerful river like the Colorado River could be reduced to a trickle. Also, Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, have started to decline as people continue to flock to southwestern cities such as Las Vegas and as farmers keep watering the desert. In this unit, participants created an initial conceptual water availability model of this problem. Then, throughout the unit, participants investigated this issue deeply through a series of inquiry-based class activities that were grounded in evidence-based literacy instructional practices. Some of these investigations included activities about soil types, climate change, population growth, and human constructions. Finally, participants used these activities as evidence to revise their initial conceptual water availability model eliciting factors affecting groundwater availability. To accompany their models, participants were able to write a comprehensive explanation of endemic water shortages from many part of the US.