Tag Archives: Science

Research: Geospatial technologies in teacher education

For nearly 25 years, teachers, researchers, and curriculum developers have designed, tested, and evaluated teacher professional development with geospatial technologies in education. These innovators created a better practice in teaching with mapping and location-based technologies, using methods and principles that advanced inquiry in meaningful and authentic ways. That path, while challenging and often shifting, shows signs of success—in classrooms, preservice programs, summer professional development, and beyond.

The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education’s Society for Information Technology in Teacher Education (AACE-SITE) has released the special issue on geospatial technologies in teacher education (special issue editors Elizabeth Langran & Thomas Baker). This journal is intended to support university faculty members working in the teacher education or educational research in technology integration.

CITE Journal 16(3) – special issue on geospatial technology

http://www.citejournal.org/publication/volume-16/issue-3-16/

Editorials

Special issue: Geospatial Technologies in Teacher Education

by Elizabeth Langran & Thomas R. Baker

Science Education

Persistent Teaching Practices After Geospatial Technology Professional Development

by Lori A. Rubino-Hare, Brooke A. Whitworth, Nena E. Bloom, Jennifer M. Claesgens, Kristi M. Fredrickson, Carol Henderson-Dahms & James C. Sample

Strategizing Teacher Professional Development for Classroom Uses of Geospatial Data and Tools

by Daniel R. Zalles & James Manitakos

Social Studies Education

Future Teachers’ Dispositions Toward Teaching With Geospatial Technologies

by Injeong Jo

Current Practice

Integrating Geospatial Technologies Into Existing Teacher Education Coursework: Theoretical and Practical Notes from the Field

by Stacey Kerr

A Curriculum-Linked Professional Development Approach to Support Teachers’ Adoption of Web GIS Tectonics Investigations

by Alec Bodzin, David Anastasio, Dork Sahagian & Jill Burrows Henry

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Fun with GIS 199: GeoInquiries

A good map informs, a powerful map provokes. A good instructional activity teaches, and a powerful one fosters questions and investigation. Byte by byte, “GeoInquiries” are changing instruction.

Esri Education Manager Tom Baker has been leading teams of authors to produce short, content-based lessons which help teachers address key content, using maps, in an inquiry-based manner, which builds comfort with the power of online GIS. Requiring no great technical background, nor download or install, nor even login, GeoInquiries help teachers engage students in not just seeing but interacting with the facts, patterns, and relationships of our world, in ways at once historical, scientific, mathematical, and of course geographic.

Now 75 bite-sized activities get used by teachers in one-computer classrooms, and in 1:1 settings. Teachers can demonstrate skills, and students can investigate even on their own, weaving content and context in their own unique way. Geoinquiries form a blazed trail through standard content, but support diversion, investigation, integration, and ever deeper learning, about the content, tools for investigating, and even the nature of knowledge.

As summer launches professional development for teachers everywhere, check out GeoInquiries as a way to shine new lights on classroom content. See the video and check out the collection!

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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New GeoInquiry collection: Advanced environmental science and biology

The public field-testing of the fifth geoinquiry collection, GeoInquiries for Advanced Environmental Science and Biology is now open.  This collection is targeted at high school biology classrooms and includes 15 cross-curricular activities with ArcGIS Online. Activities include: 

  • Population dynamics
  • Megacities
  • Down to the last drop
  • Dead zones (water pollution)
  • The Beagle’s Path
  • Primary productivity
  • Tropical Deforestation
  • Marine debris
  • El Nino (and climate)
  • Slowing malaria
  • Altered biomes
  • Spinning up wind power
  • Resource consumption and wealth

The authoring team includes: Brandon Gillette, Perri Carr, and Roger Palmer.  Maps were created by authors and Maps.com.

You can explore the collection here: http://edcommunity.esri.com/Resources/Collections/APES_geoinquiries

A short story map for easy review of the collection is available at: http://arcg.is/1Ux3mpJ

If a teacher chooses to field test an activity, they need only submit their comments to the URL at the bottom of page two (on each geoinquiry). That URL is: http://esriurl.com/GeoInquiryFeedback

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GIS in Archaeology Woven Throughout New Book

As we have frequently noted in this blog, GIS is rapidly becoming a key tool for research and instruction in an increasing variety of disciplines.  These include business, mathematics, health, and sociology, just to name just a few.  Equally encouraging is that in disciplines where GIS has long been used, such as geography, environmental science, urban planning, and wildlife biology, GIS is now being used in deeper and more meaningful ways.  One of these disciplines–archaeology–is featured in a new book from Texas A&M University Press entitled The Archaeology of Engagement:  Conflict and Revolution in the United States, edited by Dr. Dana L. Pertermann who teaches at Western Wyoming College, and Dr. Holly Kathryn Norton,  who is the State Archaeologist for Colorado.   Conflicts in the book include the 1836 San Jacinto battle in Texas, Robert E. Lee’s mid-1850s campaign along the Concho River, the battles of the River Raisin during the War of 1812, and others.

The book focuses somewhat on the physical artifacts that archaeologists uncover, but even more so on the human side–the people involved in conflicts and their social mores and understanding of power.  It is a significant step forward as I believe it represents a weaving of cultural geography and spatial thinking into archaeology.

Readers of this blog will find Chapter 7 particularly interesting:  This chapter, Georeferencing Maps and Aerial Photos for the San Jacinto Battlefield Analysis, by Peter E. Price and Douglas G. Mangum, goes into great detail, but in understandable language, about how to bring geospatial data and analysis to archaeological studies.  While the chapter is focused on how to bring historical aerial photographs and maps for the San Jacinto battle near Houston Texas, the methodology they describe will be helpful for others preparing data sets for their own instruction and research.  Educators can use this and other San Jacinto chapters in conjunction with the story maps gallery of historical maps, which include Civil War and other historical battles.

The Archaeology of Engagement book.

The Archaeology of Engagement book.

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Fun With GIS 196: Esri ConnectED Showcase

Esri joined President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative in May 2014, offering a billion dollars worth of learning resources and teacher support. Two years later, one school district stands out as a model of implementation: Loudoun County (VA) Public Schools.

Since 2005, LCPS had participated in the Geospatial Semester program (through James Madison University), teaching GIS to hundreds of high school seniors (and even juniors) through a project-based approach. Lead GIS teacher Mike Wagner attended Esri’s 2013 Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS institute, and science coordinator Odette Scovel in 2014, building strategies for helping others use GIS. ConnectED opened new horizons.

Agreeing that all 89 LCPS schools needed their own ArcGIS Online Organization, Scovel released Wagner from some classroom duties with “Get them up and running.” Now, every school has an Org underway, with students and teachers logging in. The district is more convinced than ever that ArcGIS Online opens doors for student learning, engagement, and opportunities.

Some LCPS schools use GIS more vigorously than others, according to their needs and culture. But 35 elementary schools fed data to the district’s Project Daffodil, examining relationships between weather and plants. Some first graders worked with high school honors students to map kindness. Middle school students use pre-crafted story maps to learn standard classroom content in science and social studies. High school students create story maps to deepen their own learning and help others, in history, science, and even English literature. Some special needs students use GIS to help them understand and document tasks in their day.

This summer, Wagner will lead two days of ArcGIS Online training for elementary teachers, and a week of activities for middle school and high school teachers. Such investment positions LCPS well for the huge market of GIS jobs in the region and beyond. This vision and action earned LCPS a Special Achievements in GIS Award in 2015, and already yields benefits in student learning. Kudos to LCPS for recognizing opportunity and rising to meet it! (For more info, contact Mike Wagner.)

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS 189: Visualize Your Water

“If a little is good, a lot is not always better,” Mom taught me. Nutrient pollution is like that. Just like on land, nutrients help aquatic plants grow. But, across the country, waterways are being enriched beyond the optimal level. This is especially true and especially troublesome in certain areas, like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.

Led by US Environmental Protection Agency and US Geological Survey, a host of collaborators have created the “Visualize Your Water” challenge for high school students in the states bordering the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watersheds (DC, DE, IL, IN, MD, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, VA, WI, WV). The challenge launches on Weds Jan 13, and closes March 1. High school students (working in teams or solo, in class or out of school) can submit an online map-based analysis and visualization of the situation. And there are some pretty cool prizes!

Links lead to background info, water quality data, professional visualizations, and ideas. Submissions go to a Challenge.gov site. ArcGIS Online Organization accounts make a great platform for conducting the analysis and presenting the findings. Any US K12 school can acquire one of these Orgs from Esri, for instructional use, for free, at esri.com/connected. For full info about the challenge, see the Visualize Your Water site

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS 185: Integrating STEM

“In which class does GIS belong?” I’m often asked. “Wherever you encourage critical thinking,” I reply. With furrowed brow, they continue, “We don’t teach geography, so maybe US history, or environmental science? Certainly not English or math or language. But, high school career tech, or middle school gifted, or what?” I smile and say “All of those, for sure, but more. Wherever you want students to dive in, explore, analyze data, integrate, present, and collaborate. Certainly from 4th grade on up, for every student, in all subjects, but even younger students can benefit. Web-based GIS means it is accessible on any connected device, anytime, anywhere.”

School should be a process in which all students learn why and how to learn; scaffold thinking skills; find, analyze, and interpret data; practice making decisions; engage deeply; integrate, communicate, and collaborate; create and share; listen, observe, and reflect. The content can vary widely, and GIS can be a great tool for all of these, whether examining community demographics, national history, soil productivity, urban planning, factors affecting variation in climate models, or the density of ant colonies across the school playground.

The recent meeting of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) featured a presentation by the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy of Roosevelt High School, from the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. Four seniors and two alums, plus the 11th grade English and Social Studies teachers and principal, shared their story. Each year, the juniors have a major project that is service learning, community based, personally chosen, team designed, data driven, justice-oriented, intensely researched and analyzed, and mapped, written, and taught. In this STEM school, two “non-STEM” teachers coach the class on how to use ArcGIS Online to enrich their experience, expand their skills, integrate their knowledge, gather field data to expand their findings, and power their presentation. The standing ovation by state and national leaders at SETDA is what students in all grades, all subjects, all schools should be earning.


(Above: Adult and student presenters. SETDA presentation visible there, or see this presentation by MSTMA/RHS at Esri’s 2013 User Conference, before 10,000 GIS professionals.)

Any US K12 school can have the same GIS used by MSTMA, for free, via Esri’s ConnectED offer. Teachers who want an easy starting point will find instructional materials with which to explore the basics, in classic content or one’s own vision. Schools seeking to replicate the MSTMA model need to be willing to cross lines, break down barriers, and let go the reins of adult control and empower students.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Fun with GIS 181: Enviro Justice

EJSCREEN is a sobering look at environmental justice. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released this tool using the ArcGIS Online platform. EJSCREEN lets users compare some demographic and environmental characteristics with nationally standardized data. This means economically advantaged or disadvantaged areas can see their environmental situation relative to those of other places, near and far.

It is important to read the EPA’s description of data sources, uses, and limitations. Any nationally consistent data source has issues because of the tradeoffs made for the sake of consistency and spread. But this would be a powerful tool in the hands of students for learning about conditions and relationships, and a very interesting way for students to learn key concepts in math, science, and social science.

EJSCREEN employs an ArcGIS app and therefore works on any device connected to the internet: computers, laptops, tablets, and even (with careful scrolling) smartphones. Any device, anytime, anywhere connected, about the entire USA.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Elementary school geography and science with ArcGIS Online

This summer, Esri quietly released a refreshed edition of “Thinking Spatially Using GIS” (for ArcGIS Online)”.  This collection of instructional materials for the elementary geography and science classroom is completely free, requires no login, and no installation of software.  The activities are for a one student to one computer/device (1:1) learning environment.  Activities, designed to be teacher-friendly, provide a student worksheet and assessment. The activities are for 4th and 5th grade, but may serve younger or older learners based on reading level.

Thinking Spatially Using GIS:

Module 1, Lesson 1: Magellan crosses the Atlantic Ocean
Module 1, Lesson 2: Magellan crosses the Pacific Ocean
Module 2, Lesson 1: Mapping a zoo
Module 2, Lesson 2: Touring a zoo
Module 2, Lesson 3: Animals Around the World
Module 3, Lesson 1: Early settlement patterns of the United States
Module 3, Lesson 2: Patterns of a growing population
Module 4, Lesson 1: Finding Tornado Alley
Module 4, Lesson 2: Analyzing historical tornadoes

Learn more about “Thinking Spatially Using GIS”  (with ArcGIS Online) at http://edcommunity.esri.com/TSG

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Spatial Environmental Education: Exploring Content and Relationships through Map-Based Analysis

In my last column, I introduced the idea of spatial environmental education, using map-based analysis to teach and learn environmental studies.  I hope to strengthen this idea in this column by showing how spatial analysis can foster learning about environmental content and relationships.  One of the central themes of environmental studies is examining the interaction between humans and the environment. How does the environment affect people, through such characteristics as daily weather and long-term climate, native plants and animals, landforms, the availability of water, local and regional natural hazards, and predominant soil type?  Conversely, how do humans affect their environment?

GIS can be used to teach and learn about environmental content and relationships.

GIS can be used to teach and learn about environmental content and relationships.  Photograph by Joseph Kerski, out on the landscape in Wyoming.

Another central environmental theme is change. The Earth is a dynamic planet. Comparing land cover change based on examining Landsat satellite imagery, comparing the variation in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes by year, or investigating population change in an urban area are three of the many ways in which change can be examined using maps within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS), starting with ArcGIS Online.

Because environmental phenomena interact, move, and change, it is not enough to know content only:  Relationships and processes are critical to understanding the environment.  GIS can foster each of the Center for Ecoliteracy’s six core ecological concepts: networks, nested systems, cycles, flows, development, and dynamic balance. GIS allows variables to be input, modeled, and modified so that the dynamics of environmental processes can be studied. Hungerford and Volk (1991) defined nine key ecological concepts that they said were necessary for environmental education programs, including (1) individuals and populations, (2) interactions and interdependence, (3) environmental influences and limiting factors, (4) energy flow and nutrient cycling, (5) community and ecosystem concepts, (6) homeostasis, (7) succession, (8) humans as members of ecosystems, and (9) the ecological implications of human activities and communities.  GIS can enhance the teaching of each of these concepts.

An NSF-funded project from the NAAEE resulted in a definition of environmental literacy that includes four interrelated components: (1) competencies, (2) knowledge, (3) dispositions, and (4) environmentally responsible behavior. By using the same tools used by scientists, GIS aids in the first two of these, and by investigating real issues in their communities and beyond, GIS aids in helping with the last two of these components.

Students who use GIS in tandem with environmental studies develop key critical thinking skills. These skills include understanding how to carefully evaluate and use data. This is especially critical in assessing environmental data, due to its increasing volume and diversity, and given its often sensitive and politically charged nature. Moreover, crowd-sourced data appears regularly from “citizen science” initiatives all over the world on pine beetle infestations, the appearance of monarch butterflies each spring, phenology, birds, and a host of other topics.  These data are more frequently being tied to real-world coordinates that are mapped and analyzed. Students and graduates using GIS and who are grounded in environmental studies will be in demand to help make sense of this deluge of incoming data.

Students using these tools can map phenomena and features such as ocean currents, ecoregions, and the locations of usable geothermal energy. They can use the tools to answer various questions. How does pH vary along this stretch of river, and why? How do tree species and tree height change depending on the slope angle and slope direction of the mountain, and why? Why do wind speed and direction vary across North America the way they do?

Are you using GIS to teach or learn about environmental content and relationships? If so, how?

Reference
Hungerford, Harold R., and Trudi L. Volk. Curriculum Development in Environmental Education for the Primary School: Challenges and Responsibilities. Invited paper for The International Training Seminar on Curriculum Development in Environmental Education for the Primary School.  May 1991.

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