GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 39-4
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


KELLEY, Patricia H.1, POWELL, Deborah A.2, WALKER, Bradford L.2, JURICH, Charles S.2, SHEW, Roger3 and METCALF, Elizabeth4, (1)Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403, (2)Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403, (3)Geography and Geology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403, (4)Elementary Student Learning and Title 1, Pender County Schools, 925 Penderlea Highway, Burgaw, NC 28425,

NC QUEST (NC Quality Educators through Staff Development and Training) is a Federal Title II-A grant administered by the Univ. of North Carolina system and the NC Dept. of Public Instruction. Through NCQ, UNC Wilmington faculty from education and geology are collaborating with Pender Co. Schools to offer the “Writing in Science and Science in Writing” (WSSW) professional development (PD) program to K-5 teachers. The goal of WSSW is effective teaching of inquiry science by integrating writing for students’ comprehension and retention of science content. WSSW has offered 100 hours of PD to 10 teacher leaders from 3 elementary schools who are integrating inquiry science and writing in their classrooms, developing model classrooms, and who will provide PD to other teachers to create a sustainable program. PD included a week-long summer workshop, 4 day-long events, and monthly after-school meetings of teacher leaders, administrators, instructional coaches and UNCW faculty.

During the week-long workshop teachers, coaches, administrators and UNCW faculty participated in an in-depth inquiry experience, studying mollusc fossils from a local Pliocene exposure. The project modeled the scientific process of observation, creating and testing hypotheses, and reporting findings in a manner appropriate to the grade taught by each teacher. Writing was incorporated throughout. Education faculty interweaved material on teaching inquiry science; keeping a science notebook; using illustrations, graphics and other text features to communicate; informational and argumentative writing; how to model scientific writing; and how to conference with writers. Geology faculty met with teachers during unit planning to suggest activities and address gaps in science content. Literacy faculty helped teachers find ways to integrate writing.

The week-long fossil study was a powerful experience that helped teachers understand how science works and produced enthusiasm for teaching inquiry science. All teachers have made significant progress in teaching writing and science but still lack confidence in planning content units that integrate writing. Reluctance to take risks in teaching and time spent on assessing reading hamper progress toward goals. Ongoing PD addresses these issues, preparing teacher leaders to train other teachers.