Preparing Teachers to Support the Development of Climate Literate Students

Monday, 15 December 2014
Nick Haddad1, Tamara S Ledley1, Katherine Kelly Ellins2, Erin Weeks Bardar1, Elizabeth Youngman3, Candace Dunlap1, Jeff Lockwood1, Alison S Mote4, Karen McNeal5, Julie C Libarkin6, Susan E Lynds7 and Anne U Gold8, (1)TERC, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)Univ of Texas-Inst for Geophys, Austin, TX, United States, (3)Busy Bee Productions, Sun Valley, ID, United States, (4)The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Austin, TX, United States, (5)North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States, (6)Michigan State University, Natural Science Building; Department of Geological Sciences, East Lansing, MI, United States, (7)Univ Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (8)CIRES/CU Boulder-Rsrch Lab 2, Boulder, CO, United States
The EarthLabs climate project includes curriculum development, teacher professional development, teacher leadership development, and research on student learning, all directed at increasing high school teachers’ and students’ understanding of the factors that shape our planet’s climate. The project has developed four new modules which focus on climate literacy and which are part of the larger Web based EarthLabs collection of Earth science modules. Climate related themes highlighted in the new modules include the Earth system with its positive and negative feedback loops; the range of temporal and spatial scales at which climate, weather, and other Earth system processes occur; and the recurring question, “How do we know what we know about Earth’s past and present climate?” which addresses proxy data and scientific instrumentation.

EarthLabs climate modules use two central strategies to help students navigate the multiple challenges inherent in understanding climate science. The first is to actively engage students with the content by using a variety of learning modes, and by allowing students to pace themselves through interactive visualizations that address particularly challenging content. The second strategy, which is the focus of this presentation, is to support teachers in a subject area where few have substantive content knowledge or technical skills. Teachers who grasp the processes and interactions that give Earth its climate and the technical skills to engage with relevant data and visualizations are more likely to be successful in supporting students’ understanding of climate’s complexities.

 This presentation will briefly introduce the EarthLabs project and will describe the steps the project takes to prepare climate literate teachers, including Web based resources, teacher workshops, and the development of a cadre of teacher leaders who are prepared to continue leading the workshops after project funding ends.