Using NASA Data to Teach Scientific Writing

With the implementation of Common Core Standards and The Next Generation Science Standards, science methods instructors are challenged to teach their mentees how to engage students in authentic scientific writing. Unfortunately, many pre-service teachers lack experience writing evidence based conclusions and consequently, they are unprepared to teach this important skill to their students. In this workshop, participants will experience a sequence of lessons designed to scaffold scientific inquiry as well as to develop students’ abilities to support their inquiry through writing.
During the workshop, participants will take part in a series of lessons designed to scaffold the development of inquiry research skills AND writing skills to support critical thinking and argumentation. At the conclusion of each activity, students have the skills and background to propose independent research projects using the provided data resources.
Having participants do the writing helps them understand the tasks that they will be teaching to their pre-service teachers, who will then utilize the activities with their own students. All too often, methods instructors will see an innovative teaching strategy in a conference workshop that they take back and implement without actually experiencing the full tasks involved. We believe that to experience the value of these activities, the participants must do the scaffolded research AND scaffolded writing activities. Using Internet based data sets and tools, the participants will explore weather and climate from multiple perspectives. Eventually, they will propose a research project to address an engineering problem. Access to the data used for this workshop does not require the technology room. As long as there is wifi access, participants should be able to access all necessary data on their personal digital devices.
The workshop presenters have presented these, and similar activities in multiple venues including classrooms, methods classes, and state and local conferences. Similar activities were previously shared in FINESSE workshops preceding ASTE meetings. This workshop differs from those presentations in that we will be focusing on incorporating more technical writing during the scaffolded inquiry process. We believe that this workshop will be of value to ASTE participants due to the fact that few of the previous FINESSE participants actually attended the ASTE conferences.
The instructional activities for this workshop are taken from Engaging in Astronomical Inquiry, 2010. To provide a book, with additional activities for each participant, the cost for the workshop would be $35. This would include a copy of the book and duplication of the materials for the workshop. In addition, participants will need access to wifi for the Internet based data sets. If Wifi access is available, participants can access the data on their own digital devices (laptop or tablet is recommended). Optimal workshop size would be 20 participants in a classroom arranged with round tables to allow collaboration.