Plate Tectonics: Reshaping the Ground Below Us

Web-based Science Inquiry Environment (WISE)

Project: Plate Tectonics – 

Renamed: Plate Tectonics: Reshaping the Ground Below Us – ID 19738

WISE is theoretically based on the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration network (SKI) which includes the following four tenets: 1) accessibility to science, 2) making knowledge visible, 3) learning from others and 4) promoting autonomy (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). In piecing together a unit study for middle school students (grade 6-8), incorporating these four tenets of SKI into the non-technology based areas of learning is intentional to enhance visibility of knowledge and opportunities for peer review and critique. The WISE Plate Tectonic project is being used as a final assignment within a geology unit based on the structure of the earth, the surface of the earth, plate tectonics, and earthquakes and volcanoes. A few authorship changes have been made to the Plate Tectonic project mainly to include a Canadian perspective. These changes include the addition of Canadian map images showing placement of volcanoes, earthquakes and mountain ranges, along with appropriate text. As well, small alterations have occurred in the subtitles of the lesson outline.

The geology unit includes three resources, two non-technology based texts and one project from WISE. The two non-technology based resources that have been chosen are faith-based resources as the school that I work for is an independent religious school. The Geology Book by Dr. John D. Morris is a textbook, but includes detailed and colourful diagrams illustrating the inside of the earth and side views of how the earth’s surface is formed. A Child’s Geography: Volume 1 by Ann Voskamp includes conversational style writing, hands-on activities, real world extensions and a living book list of extension readings. Talking about thinking is incorporated into both of these resources through oral narrations, discussions and the sharing of written work for peer critique. Learning is made visible through notebooking and hands-on model making.The table below illustrates the order of the unit with how resources will be completed in conjunction with each other.

In designing this unit, the four tenets of SKI are intentionally incorporated in addition to, or through the use of each resource. These four tenets provide a framework for students to work through an inquiry process as described in Inquiry and the National Educational Standards with students thinkingabout what we know, why we know, and how we have come to know” (Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education, 2000, p.6). Linn, Clark and Slotta (2013) more specifically define inquiry “as engaging students in the intentional process of diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, distinguishing alternatives, planning investigations, revising views, researching conjectures, searching for information, constructing models, debating with peers, communicating to diverse audiences, and forming coherent arguments” (p.518). The following table analyses each of the three resources and aligns them with the four tenets of SKI as well as the inquiry processes described by Linn, Clark and Slotta in the above definition.

 

Scaffolded Integration Knowledge Network Processes of Inquiry Geology Unit Resource
Accessibility to Science – {content, relevancy, real-life application} Diagnosing problems

Planning investigations

Revising views

Researching conjectures

Searching for information

WISE Plate Tectonics
Researching conjectures

Searching for information

Revising views

The Geology Book
Revising views

Researching conjectures

Searching for information

A Child’s Geography
Making Thinking Visible Constructing models

Communicating to diverse audiences

Forming coherent arguments

WISE Plate Tectonics
Constructing models The Geology Book
Constructing models A Child’s Geography
Learning From Others Diagnosing problems

Critiquing experiments

Distinguishing alternatives

Revising views

Debating with peers

WISE Plate Tectonics
Critiquing by peers

Revising views

The Geology Book
Critiquing by peers

Revising views

A Child’s Geography
Promote Autonomy Diagnosing problems

Critiquing experiments

Distinguishing alternatives

Planning investigations

Revising views

Researching conjectures

Searching for information

WISE Plate Tectonics
Researching conjectures

Searching for information

Critiquing by peers

Revising views

The Geology Book
Researching conjectures

Searching for information

Critiquing by peers

Revising views

A Child’s Geography

 

 

 

Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education. (2000) Inquiry and the national science education standards. Washington, DC: Author.
Linn, M. C., Clark, D. and Slotta, J. D. (2003), WISE design for knowledge integration . Sci. Ed., 87: 517–538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086
Slotta, J. D. & Linn, M. C. (in press). WISE Science: Inquiry and the Internet in the Science Classroom. Teachers College Press. Retrieved from https://edx-lti.org/assets/courseware/v1/634b53c10b5a97e0c4c68e6c09f3f1b6/asset-v1:UBC+ETEC533+2016W2+type@asset+block/WISEBookCh1-30209.pdf
Web-based Inquiry Science Environment.(1996-2016). Retrieved from https://wise.berkeley.edu/

 

2 comments

  1. Thank you Jessica for your post on a further enriched Plate Tectonics experience.

    I like how you modified the title and modified it for a Canadian geology experience. If you can class, please check out 19738.

    You raise an important point for us in this program and that is the “non-technology” based areas of learning: In piecing together a unit study for middle school students (grade 6-8), incorporating these four tenets of SKI into the non-technology based areas of learning is intentional to enhance visibility of knowledge and opportunities for peer review and critique. These non-digital sources are evident in both of your lesson tables as seldom is software in math or science education able to do all the work that encompasses the complexity of teaching in these domains. As designers, we mobilize such resources and TPCK in an effort to enrich students’ multi-layered experiences.

    This “multi-layered” experience is exemplified in your laudable mapping of SKI to inquiry from the National Standards and to your unit plan. The table shows how SKI connects to processes associated with science. These standards referenced are also a good way to view some of the latest thinking about science (and where science meets engineering, some of you might wish to check out the Next Generation Science Standards or NGSS).

    I wanted to focus in on the process of modeling for this post, which lends itself nicely to the area of plate tectonics. Gobert et al. in their paper that students can engage in model-based reasoning with models, be they dynamic, runnable visual models in WISE or ones created from physical materials such as that of the plates or the Earth. For example, one of the first activities is for students to draw a model of how mountains are formed and then explain within WISE what happens to each of the layers when a mountain is formed. Students then critique peer models using prompts in WISE such as, what do you think should be added to this model that would make it better for someone who does not know geology. Peers then revised their models by examining and considering these recommendations.

    The Geology Book is currently being used to support the construction of models, and I was wondering in what ways some of these model construction, reconsideration processes be fostered in some of the activities that you already have (eg. with WISE) or with hands on-materials?

    Thank you for extending our discussion with these ideas on inquiry and modeling with textbooks and the Plate Tectonics Reshaping the Ground Below us WISE project,
    Samia

  2. Thank you, Samia, for your confirming comment.

    I appreciate your prodding of further consideration regarding model use in learning environments. The Geology Book in my geology unit is mainly included due to its excellent diagrams. In the unit, students complete notebooking after readings and talking about thinking occurs. Notebooks are a guided inquiry in that there is criteria established for the layout and amount of content, but the actual content is individually chosen by the student. A combination of text and visual is part of the criteria with the visual often being a copy work of a diagram presented in another resource.

    In other experiences that reflect common classroom activity, diagrams are often presented to students as a photocopy to colour and fill in the blanks, or simply a representation for student to look at and discuss. The act of diagram copy work increases student’s observations skills and requires attention to detail. Interestingly, during this past week, I came across this article entitled “Rediscovering the Forgotten Benefits of Drawing” from Scientific American website https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/rediscovering-the-forgotten-benefits-of-drawing/. The author describes the benefits of including drawings as a consistent component, not in an art class, but in a biology class! This fully resonates with me as myself and my students often participate in nature study which requires us to sketch nature using very close observation.

    The hands-on model constructions that are presented in A Child’s Geography, are less realistic such as an edible earth using various flavours of ice cream and cookie crumbs, or using play dough to demonstrate diverging and converging plates. These types of modelling activities are “fun”, and allow the student to manipulate materials to construct a formation or demonstrate a process. In combination with realistic modelling experiences, I believe these “fun” experience can be beneficial and engaging for younger {and even older} students.

    I consider model-based learning slightly further in my e-folio post on WISE and SKI. Gobert, Snyder and Houghton (2002) focus on the impact of using models to either learn from or for students to construct. STEM is also an excellent inclusion in BCs New Curriculum for incorporating modelling as a regular component of learning.

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