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The Examining Your Environment through the Power of Data Project (EYE-POD) Project at NAU: Professional Development for Secondary Education Teachers Using Earth Sciences and GIS

Authors:

Abstract

The EYE-POD project at Northern Arizona University is an NSF-ITEST-funded professional development program for secondary science (SS) and career technical education (CTE) teachers. The program recruited SS-CTE teacher pairs from Arizona and the surrounding region to participate in two-week workshops during Summer, 2010, and an advanced workshop ins Summer, 2011. The workshops are led by a team with distinct expertise in science content, professional development and pedagogy, GIS, and project evaluation. Learning modules and a workshop agenda are developed using the Legacy Cycle of learning. Rather than compartmentalize pedagogical, content, and GIS learning activities, they have been combined throughout the workshop timeline. Early activities focus on learning of climate and weather processes through GIS modules provided by ESRI-``Mapping our World'' and ``Analyzing our World''. Participants learn the technical aspects of GIS software while investigating real phenomena. The science/GIS learning activities are augmented by laboratory demonstrations and field data collection using Labquest handheld field measurement systems with a variety of probes. At the end of the first week teacher-participants presented the solution to a problem, using GIS-based climate and weather data, involving travel to various locations on Earth. The second week focused on classroom, lab, and field activities devoted to recommendations to the City of Flagstaff for development in the Rio de Flag floodplain. Teacher-participant groups presented solutions making claims and recommendations supported by evidence from georeferenced field data and other GIS data acquired from various sources. At the close of the workshop teachers were provided with GIS software, hardware for field data collection, and several reference materials to aid in curriculum development. They have been tasked with implementing two GIS-based Earth science content modules in their schools, to one science class and one CTE class. One module must involve a field-based problem at their school site. The EYE-POD team will provide support to each school team through site visits and phone consultation. As part of the project, data on learning efficacy is being collected by an independent evaluator and analyzed by a science education faculty member (summarized in companion paper by Claesgens, et al.).
This project is funded by
National Science Foundation Grant DRL-0929846
Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers Program.
We are grateful to ESRI for supplying software site licenses
and supporting materials to participating school districts
ED53A-0518 The Examining Your Environment through the Power of Data Project (EYE-POD) Project at NAU: Professional Development for Secondary Education Teachers Using Earth Sciences and GIS
J C Sample
1
, L Rubino-Hare
2
, J Claesgens
2
, K Fredrickson
2
, M Manone
3
, M White
4
1
School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences, Program in Geology;
2
Center for Science Teaching and Learning;
3
Dept. of Geography, Planning, and Recreation;
4
E-Learning; all at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011; James.Sample@nau.edu
The EYE-POD project at Northern Arizona University is an NSF-
ITEST-funded professional development program for secondary
science (SS) and career technical education (CTE) teachers. The
program recruited SS-CTE teacher pairs from Arizona and the
surrounding region to participate in two-week workshops during
Summer, 2010, and an advanced workshop ins Summer, 2011. The
workshops are led by a team with distinct expertise in science
content, professional development and pedagogy, GIS, and project
evaluation. Learning modules and a workshop agenda are
developed using the Legacy Cycle of learning. Rather than
compartmentalize pedagogical, content, and GIS learning
activities, they have been combined throughout the workshop
timeline. Early activities focus on learning of climate and weather
processes through GIS modules provided by ESRI-“Mapping our
World” and “Analyzing our World”. Participants learn the technical
aspects of GIS software while investigating real phenomena. The
science/GIS learning activities are augmented by laboratory
demonstrations and field data collection using Labquest handheld
field measurement systems with a variety of probes. At the end of
the first week teacher-participants presented the solution to a
problem, using GIS-based climate and weather data, involving
travel to various locations on Earth. The second week focused on
classroom, lab, and field activities devoted to recommendations to
the City of Flagstaff for development in the Rio de Flag floodplain.
Teacher-participant groups presented solutions making claims and
recommendations supported by evidence from georeferenced field
data and other GIS data acquired from various sources. At the
close of the workshop teachers were provided with GIS software,
hardware for field data collection, and several reference materials
to aid in curriculum development. They have been tasked with
implementing two GIS-based Earth science content modules in
their schools, to one science class and one CTE class. One
module must involve a field-based problem at their school site. The
EYE-POD team will provide support to each school team through
site visits and phone consultation. As part of the project, data on
learning efficacy is being collected by an independent evaluator
and analyzed by a science education faculty member (summarized
in companion paper by Claesgens, et al.).
I. ABSTRACT
II. INTRODUCTION AND PLANNING
The EYE POD program is an ITEST Strategies project that utilizes problem-
based learning modules to increase the science, technology, and math
skills of teachers directly and their students indirectly. The primary goal is
to teach students how to solve problems through data collection and
analysis utilizing geospatial tools. EYE POD provides professional
development to teams of secondary Career and Technical Education
(CTE) and math or science content teachers (Fig. 1). We prepare the
teachers to implement in their own classrooms modules learned during
the institute and to develop their own modules using the GIS skills they
have developed. Through participation in EYE POD, teachers and
students deepen their ability to analyze data using GIS technologies to
solve community problems.
Principle Objectives
Objective 1: Teacher Skill- Increase higher-level technology
integration, database use and management, spatial thinking, and
web interface skills of teacher participants
Objective 2: Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge- Increase
teacher participant pedagogical content knowledge in science, data
analysis, and spatial thinking skills
Objective 3: Teacher Practice- Provide an opportunity for teachers to
develop and implement their own problem-based teaching modules
in their classrooms
Objective 4: Student Skill- Increase data analysis, critical thinking and
spatial thinking skills of students grades 9-12
Objective 5: Student STEM Career Knowledge- Expose 9-12 students
to STEM content and careers and encourage students to participate
in STEM classes
To develop the two-week institutes we assembled a team of project staff
that includes: 1) two pedagogical experts with GIS experience (Rubino-
Hare and Fredrickson); 2) a content expert with some GIS experience
(Sample); and 3) two GIS/computer technology experts (Manone and
White). The institute agenda and challenges were developed during at
least bi-weekly meetings among the staff in AY 2009-10 preceding the
two institutes delivered in June and July of 2010. A project evaluation
plan was developed and completed by an external evaluator, and some
of the data have been analyzed by a science education faculty member
(Claesgens) in a companion poster (ED53A-0519).
IIIA. EYE POD TWO-WEEK INSTITUTES
The 2010 EYEPOD Project consisted of two 10-day professional
development institutes held at the Geospatial Research and
Information Laboratory (GRAIL) on the Northern Arizona University
Campus. Participants were provided with a stipend and travel
support to attend the workshop. Upon completion their school district
would receive several supporting books, a collection of handheld,
GPS-enabled Vernier LabQuest data collection devices (Fig. 2)
along with various probes. In addition teachers received books to
support pedagogy, and GIS training. Site licenses for ArcGIS
Desktop software were mailed directly to schools, and project staff
worked with the district IT departments to ensure software was
loaded and ready to go for teachers to begin implementation at the
start of the school year.
IIIB. INSTITUTE FUNCTIONS
The institute included (see example workshop itinerary):
instruction in exemplary problem-based and inquiry-focused teaching
and learning, using in part the Legacy Cycle framework (Fig. 3)
lab and field exercises of appropriate content that modeled inquiry-
focused learning (Figs. 4 and 5)
content focused on weather, climate and related hazards and societal
concerns
intensive GIS instruction and practice (Fig. 6)
an introduction to GPS technology and field data collection techniques
field data collection
Project staff utilized some existing exemplary curricular materials and
available data sets on climate and weather and organized them within a
Legacy Cycle framework to build projects for participants to implement
with their students. Teacher participants were immersed in these problem-
based lessons that they can then implement throughout the following
academic year.
There was a wide range of technological abilities represented in each
group. The first group had some participants with experience in geospatial
technologies. The second participants were complete novices. This
required project staff to respond with flexibility and to adapt to specific
needs of each group.
IV. POST-INSTITUTE ACTIVITIES
In the academic year following their first summer institute
(2010-11), participants are required to:
implement two problems
invite project staff for two site visits
collect data from students as they complete the
assignments
To facilitate communication within the group after the institute,
we created a Google Site and discussion board where
participants can post and respond to monthly follow up
questions and report accomplishments and implementation as
they complete requirements. Site visits by project staff provide
an opportunity to observe progress and assist teachers with
implementation
We will offer two one-week advanced institutes in June, 2011.
These will provide participants to develop a new GIS-based
module for their classroom from the ground up.
For the research portion of the project, data on learning
efficacy is being collected by an independent evaluator and
analyzed by Claesgens (see ED53A-0519).
V. SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES
Accomplishments:
we successfully trained 23 teachers in how to implement
problem-based learning modules using GIS as a tool
we were able to take several teachers from a novice level in GIS
to where they felt comfortable designing some GIS-based
lessons
implemention of problem-based learning is occurring in the
classroom this semester
12 school districts in Arizona and Colorado now have GIS
capabilities in their classroom
Recurring challenges:
recruitment of full cohorts (severe cuts in educational budgets,
and the attendant employment uncertainty for teachers
negatively impacted our ability to recruit full cohorts)
finding schools with available content-CTE teacher pairings
implementing Earth Science based lessons for teachers who do
not teach Earth Science
ability to engage teachers in post-workshop discussion boards
technical difficulties installing software/working with district IT
personnel
Figure 1. Participants were recruited by face-
to-face contact at professional education
meetings, by emails to professional
education list serves, and by publication on a
university web site.
Figure 2. Participants use Labquests to measure soil moisture
Figure 3. The Legacy Cycle was one model used as a context
for institute instruction and as a mode of module development
when when teachers return to their classrooms
Figure 4. Lab investigations of water properties
Figure 5. Field investigation of a wetland
IIIC. PROBLEM-BASED CHALLENGES
Challenge 1:
Each team was assigned a city somewhere around the globe to investigate
for a tourist visit either in January or June. They used content gained from
lectures and activities on weather and climate, and GIS training received
during the first week of the institute, to download data and develop a
solution. Teacher-teams then presented their solution to the group using
GIS software and PowerPoint (Fig. 7).
Challenge 2:
We divided the group into three teams. Each team was assigned a different
portion of the Rio de Flag, in Flagstaff. Their challenge was to make a
recommendation for future use along the stream, taking into account:
recreational opportunities
water conservation
possible flood hazards
a changing climate in the southwest
This challenge required more field work to map the current features of the
stream, make soil moisture measurements, and survey stream channel
dimensions (Fig. 8). Each group had to download georeferenced data from
their handheld Labquest devices into a GIS base map.
Figure 8. Solving challenge two planning for
management along the Rio de Flag
Figure 7. Participants solve challenge one
planning a visit to a foreign land using
GIS data on weather and climate
Figure 6. GIS instruction and practice
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