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

Paper No. 58-14
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


THOMAS, Jeff D.1, DREW, Sally2, BALISCIANO, Nicholas3, OYEWUMI, Oluyinka4, BEDNARSKI, Marsha4 and LARSEN, Kristine4, (1)Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050, (2)Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley St., Copernicus Hall, Central CT State University, New Britain, CT 06050, (3)Education & Workforce Development,, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT), East Hartford, CT 06108, (4)Department of Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050, thomasjed@ccsu.edu

A major instructional shift of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is to blend disciplinary core ideas or DCI’s (e.g. plate tectonics), 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 DCI’s in response to questions about natural phenomena (e.g. why are fossils from warm climates found in Connecticut?) 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.

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.