To investigate WISE projects more closely, I selected “Plate Tectonics with Automated Essay Guidance” (ID: 18449) to view. The project leads students through a lesson on plate tectonics, the forces that drive their movement, and the results geological features that they produce. I felt that the lessons two main teaching objectives (visualizing and understanding the convection currents in the mantle that drive plate tectonics, and the geographical features that the plate interactions produce), were well suited to both WISE and SKI principles.
WISE, as described by Linn, Clark, and Slotta (2002), aims to “making thinking visible, making Science accessible, helping students learn from each other, and promoting lifelong learning.” As such, this particular WISE project starts by connecting students to their prior knowledge by reflecting on various US geological features such as mountains and volcanoes. It then guides students into exploring the concept of plate boundaries and provides them a scaffolded, inquiry-based path to understanding how plates move and ways plates can interact with each other, using animations and formative assessments along the way. It then concludes with putting the ideas together and having students explain convection currents and plate movements, and even provides an extension “Challenge” lesson that encourages students to consider geological events in other parts of the world as well as other activities such as building a model or identifying mystery locations. This last section helps to foster lifelong learning by having students apply their knowledge to other parts of the world they may not have seen before.
For my modification, I focused on the “Graphing Challenge” component that asked students to graph the changing density of the wax blob in a lava lamp over time. Instead of the graphing, I replaced it with a “Discovering New Land” component that was similar to an analysis activity I did a few years prior with my Science 10 class. In the modification of the WISE project, the students are provided with a fantasy map of an island with various Earth-like features such as mountain ranges, valleys, volcanoes, and shoreline similarities between landmasses and islands. The students are asked, in a response box, to list the features that they can identify, using reflection notes to record their reasoning. The section after supplies students with a transparent map of the fantasy world’s tectonic plates, overlaid on top of the original map. Using the “label” function, the students are tasked with deducing the direction of each plate’s movement based on the geological features being produced. Finally, students are given response boxes to justify their choices of plate direction as a means of assessing their understanding.
While my students had completed this activity using pen, paper, and a few sets of the maps, the WISE project allows for a more interactive, individually-paced method of presenting the same assignment. The ability to dynamically add labels and keep reflection notes along the way ensures that students can mark up the maps as they consider the problem at hand, whereas the pen and paper method was more limited due to the fact that the master maps had been laminated to preserve them and other logistical factors. Overall, this WISE method would provide greater freedom for students to explore their learning compared to more traditional methods.
Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003. Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 516-538