Infusing Technology into Earth Science Week

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Let’s talk about Science. Earth Science to be exact. Earth Science Week takes place October 14 – 20 and this year’s theme is “Earth as Inspiration.” Sponsored by the American Geosciences Institute, the goal of this annual event is to promote understanding and appreciation of earth sciences and encourage stewardship of the earth.

Here are some suggestions to help you get started with your preparations for Earth Science week in your classroom using technology to promote student learning:

All Teachers:

  • Knowledge of science standards is imperative for designing robust, pedagogy-based lessons. Find standards, rubrics, and sample tasks at the Next Generation Science Standards website. Pay particular attention to the dropbox in the search feature that allows users to search by practice. This section contains concrete information on best practices in teaching the sciences.
  • Earth Science Literacy Initiative –  this framework of 9 big ideas presents concepts, and all Americans should know about Earth science. Included at this link are a guide with Earth Science Literacy principles and a set of videos available for download and use in educational settings.
  • Find high-quality earth science websites and activities reviewed on TeachersFirst. Browse through these ideas to find resources for all grade levels.

Newbie EdTech Coaches:

  • Share a new technology tool with your teachers and offer to come in and help with students as they begin using it.
    • Flipgrid (TeachersFirst Review) is easy to use for all grade levels. Explore Flipgrid’s Discovery Library (recently renamed as Disco Library) to find ideas others used for earth science exploration. One of my favorite ideas is to explore and discuss Where is Earth’s Water? The creator tied in the Flipgrid activity directly into ongoing lessons in their science textbook.
    • PhotoCollage (TeachersFirst Review) – this site is an excellent tool for quickly creating and sharing photo collages. Suggest going outside with students and taking pictures of your environment. Work together with the teacher to choose images and create collages from the activity. When complete, download and post on class websites to share with students to discuss and explore their findings. Suggest doing the same exercise next spring to compare and contrast results.

Veteran teachers looking for Tech to incorporate into lessons:

  • Take a look at your current lesson resources to find activities to enhance by the use of technology. If you aren’t familiar with teaching models that help with this, take a look at the SAMR model. This TeachersFirst blog from last May shares some other instructional technology frameworks to help with understanding the effective use of technology.
  • This Padagogy Wheel shares ideas on apps to use that fit into different SAMR categories. Keep in mind that HOW you use the tool is more important than the tech tool.
  • Review your current worksheets and writing activities and how they can improve with the use of technology. For example, think about this worksheet that features an image showing the earth’s layers. Instead of completing a worksheet, ask students to find a creative commons image of the earth’s layers on their own then use ThingLink (TeachersFirst review) to build an interactive image of the earth layers including videos, links to websites, and their audio and text information.

Teachers without tech coaches:

  • Perhaps you are on your own to learn and implement technology in your classroom. Be sure to go to our TeachersFirst Edge tools as a starting point for tech tools and classroom suggestions. All resources include a short review of the tech tool and recommendations for classroom use. Also, we share other information including the difficulty of use and if registration is required. Since there are almost 1,300 tools reviewed at the Edge, here are a few suggestions (click the tool link to see the TeachersFirst review): Use a blog tool as a substitute for handwritten notes such as Seesaw or Telegra.ph. This last blog creator requires no registration. For augmentation of your lesson use Padlet and allow students to make comments on other student’s suggestions. For modification of a lesson use a comic strip creator like Write Comics for demonstrating knowledge of a concept. Redefinition of your lesson could be done using an interactive multimedia presentation tool like Canva or Genial.ly, both of which will give students a choice as to the type of presentation they want to complete.
  • I mentioned Flipgrid earlier as an easy tool for integrating tech with earth science lessons. Learn more with this guide created by Flipgrid for Building a K12 Science Flipgrid Community.

Administrators:

  • Encourage teachers to share ideas for integrating technology during professional development sessions. During Earth Science Week, model collaboration of ideas using Padlet (TeachersFirst review). Create a Padlet for your teachers and ask them to share how they use technology in science lessons. Use a multi-column Padlet to organize by topics and use one column for teachers to post activities they plan on using and ask others to add comments with ideas for infusing technology.
  • Volunteer to teach in a  “tech expert’s’” classroom to allow him/her to mentor another teacher in using a technology tool.
  • Share your staff’s effective examples of integrating technology during staff meetings and online through your school’s website.

Infusing tech with pedagogy:

  • Some of us (myself included) really love technology and sometimes are more enamored with the technology than the lesson content. Keep in mind that content is the most important part of lessons, technology allows us to teach in new ways and provide learning opportunities that weren’t previously available. The image on this blog serves as a good reminder of keeping pedagogy at the forefront at all times.
  • On the flip side, this article argues for technology shaping education. Whichever way you believe, it is still important to consider both when lesson planning. Again, the SAMR model and other technology frameworks provide guidance when making these decisions.

Earth Science Week is a perfect opportunity to look at lessons and ideas and think about how to incorporate technology in meaningful ways. Use these ideas to inspire and create technology-based lessons. Please share your thoughts in the comments below; these ideas inspire and encourage fellow educators in their quest for effective use of technology and pedagogy.

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About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.


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