IMPLEMENTING NGSS: A SECONDARY SCHOOL UNIT TO CONSTRUCT AN EXPLANATION OF LOCAL PLATE DYNAMICS
A unit from this PD project, “What is Connecticut’s Geologic Story,” addressed the NGSS DCI—Earth Systems. The context for the unit focused on CT plate dynamics over 500 million years. The phenomenon to start the unit was presenting dinosaur fossil prints from the CT River Valley—noting that these fossils were previously located in a tropical environment. From these observations, participants constructed hypotheses to explain how these fossils could be found in what is today a temperate climate. To develop robust hypotheses, participants completed several data-rich inquiry-based activities such as analyzing multiple lines of fossil evidence and calculating the rate of movement along various spreading centers using the GeoMapApp tool. In addition, participants read primary and secondary sources, many from the Untied States Geological Survey, to further develop and revise their hypotheses. Many of these activities were grounded in evidence-based literacy instructional practices that align with the Common Core of State Standards. To apply their knowledge, participants created plate tectonic models for CT during formation and break-up of Pangaea. Finally, based on all of the body of evidence participants collected, they wrote comprehensive explanation about to how CT geologically evolved.