Earth's Spheres - The Cycles of Life
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Compiled digital resources to supplement student's understanding of the Earth's spheres
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Spheres of the Earth - NASA's Student Guide

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Comment: This resource is a great way for students to monitor their own progress on their understanding of the Earth’s spheres. It is a workbook produced by NASA that walks students through their own research of the Earth’s spheres. This resource would be great for students as they can move through the workbook at their own speed in order to supplement what they learn in class about the spheres, this was they don’t feel pressured to have deep understanding of the content at the same time as other students. This could be a hand in assessment task for students, where they must complete the workbook by a set date to have their work assessed. This would be a good task for students as it is fairly straight forward and students shouldn’t be confused by the task. The task will help students develop their scientific literacy skills as there is a section dedicated to students making observations, developing hypotheses, as well as directing students to explain their observations. Additionally, this resource supports the development of scientific literacy as there is a section for individual research, where students would have to research the four spheres and comment on the validity and reliability of their sources.

 

Justification: This resource is good as it allows students to revise for the topic at their own pace, an ideal that can be good to engage students, as often students who fall behind in the content will start to disengage with any subsequent material. The resource is great for promoting inquiry based thinking as it is an individual task that gets students to research in their own way, as it gives students autonomy in how they complete the workbook (e.g. choosing what natural disaster to look at). The strength of this resource is that it encompasses many of the factors required to help student develop their scientific skill set (e.g. researching, hypothesising, using and handling data) in a way that is simple, straight forward and easily grasped by students. Additionally, the resource has links to NASA’s website where students can investigate various videos and images that can further engage the students. A weakness of the resource is that it is quite text dominate at the start as it explains to students how to effectively use the workbook and how to navigate the website. This could cause students to disengage with the resource before the more engaging material begins. 

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Your Impact on the Earth's Spheres - Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Your Impact on the Earth's Spheres - Calculate Your Carbon Footprint | Earth's Spheres - The Cycles of Life | Scoop.it
What is your impact on the planet? Find out using Earth Day Network's free ecological footprint calculator. Then learn what you can do to help our earth!
James Battaglia's insight:

Comment: This digital resource is a great way to inject relevance of the topic of sustainability and the importance of sustainability in maintaining the health of Earth’s spheres. This resource requires students to calculate their own carbon footprint by answering questions that are individual to them (e.g. how much meat do you eat weekly? How often do you walk or cycle when travelling weekly?). This resource would be used after the main concepts of the importance of sustainability have been taught to the class, as this resource allows students to realise the impact they have on the spheres. This resource could be used for an assessment task, as at the end of the questionnaire students have the opportunity to review certain questions they have answered to see the possible effects had they answered questions differently, this could be used to get students to research ways in which society can improve sustainability on the Earth. This can help student’s develop their scientific literacy skills as it requires them to do research where they would have to assess the validity and reliability of each source they come across, and require them to work on how they communicate their findings to others.

 

Justification: This resource was selected as it requires students to involve themselves into the theory that has been taught, which makes the material more relevant to them thus more engaging. This resource would be used to highlight to students that though they are studying the theory of scientific concepts, as a member of Earth’s community they inherently have a practical impact on the science they are learning. The great strength of this resource is that it allows students to customize their experience, from creating their own character to detailing exactly what they eat, how they travel etc., while also providing the opportunity for students to give more basic responses. This is good as it keeps the material personal for students, while providing the opportunity to not be personal if that is what they want. Another strength of this resource is that it allows for an inquiry based approach to the topic of sustainability, as students can actively manipulate and research their own activities to discover what impacts they have on the Earth’s spheres. A weakness of this resource is that for it to work effectively in teaching student’s the importance of sustainability in maintaining the health of the Earth’s spheres, it requires students to actively seek in depth information of how to live sustainability, as the information that is provided is quite small and lacks impact.

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Big Idea 3: Earth's Systems Interact

Observe the events that show how Earth works as a set of interconnected systems.
James Battaglia's insight:

Comment: This resource can be used to support teaching and learning as it is a great way to succinctly and comprehensively summarise and review what has been taught to students about the Earth’s spheres and their interactions. For students this video can be used to confirm what they know of the spheres and interactions, as well as to visually demonstrate and reinforce what they know. Additionally this video can be used by students to clarify any misconceptions they may have developed during the classes related to the topic. This video can help develop a student’s scientific literacy as it demonstrates how to use language appropriately in science, showing students how to communicate key points effectively by showing how to successfully summarise the important facts of a scientific concept, through the use of simple and non-verbose expression. This video would be ideal to show to students before any sort of summative or formative assessment as it can help students revise material in a relatively short time period. It also provides the students with the opportunity to pause the video at a stage where they may feel they need to go back and revisit any other material to help them understand the topic so that they can move through at their own pace.

 

Justification: This is a great video to show student’s that each of Earth’s spheres does not act separately. When teaching each of the spheres students tend to see the mas systems that affect the Earth in a particular way, when in reality these spheres influence each other as they interact with one another to create the phenomena that occur on Earth. The great strength of this video is that it provides in depth information in language that isn’t overly complicated, getting the point across to students fluently. This video also has merit for use in the classroom as it not only details sphere interactions, it also provides a brief summary of the key features of each sphere, to refresh student’s memories and to cement the knowledge the students have on the spheres. Additionally this video is highly engaging for students as it shows real life examples of how the spheres act on each other as well as influence each other, a point that can be hard to communicate to students just verbally. A weakness of the video is that it is a little long (about 6 minutes) and though the video is engaging, students may lose interest if it goes for too long. This resource is also weak in the area of providing students with the opportunity for inquiry based thinking, however the video would provide the necessary information for students to be prompted with inquiry based question by the teacher.

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Ecosystem

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Comment: This resource gets students to identify abiotic and biotic factors in an ecosystem as well as the relationships that occur between organisms. This resource would be a good way to give students an alternate form of revision instead of the typical worksheets which students can disengage with. The digital interface allows students to revise material through the use of technology which would be more engaging for students. If this task was to be used for assessment I suggest that it be used as base, where students would have to add to the resource as It only covers a small amount of the syllabus outcomes, but it does provide a good starting point for students to start integrating and adding their own knowledge. By giving students the task to incorporate their own information it helps a student develop their scientific literacy skills as they have to attempt to convey what they know in a succinct and comprehensive way that others could easily read their information and effectively grasp the content.

 

Justification: This resource is planned as a means for students to conduct their own revision on the topic of biotic and abiotic factors. Ideally the content will be taught in class through class discussion and videos etc., after which the students can go through this resource to test themselves so that they can go through any misconceptions they may have picked up, as well as provide the opportunity for them to ask individual questions to the teacher. The strength of the resource is that it is relatively straight forward and this should make it easy for the students to interact with the material. Another strength of the resource is that it has the option for students to ask for ‘hints’ if they are do not know they answers off the top of their head. This is good as it prompts students to approach the question from a different perspective so that they can utilise all the information they have. A weakness of this resource is that it can be difficult to navigate effectively (i.e. if you do not click on the specific spot the resource won’t recognise a response) which could be frustrating for students which would lead to disengagement. Another weakness is that this resource alone would not be sufficient to support an inquiry based approach as it is fairly straight forward. However, if coupled with additional activities that would ask students to add to the resource, this website could be perfect to drive students towards an inquiry based approach.

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Nitrogen Cycle Interactive Animation

James Battaglia's insight:

Comment: This digital resource is a great introduction to the nitrogen cycle for students. It proves to be a valuable way for teachers to relate the concept of the nitrogen cycle to students, as it is a computer interactive exercise that proves to be engaging. This resource should be accessed by students after the teacher has given the students a brief explanation of the nitrogen cycle, as some background material would be useful for students to get a richer experience from this resource. The interactive design of the resource improves a student’s scientific literacy development as it allows students to move through the certain points of the nitrogen cycle, showing students how specific concepts are related to one another, teaching students how to link scientific knowledge together. The interactive activity only covers a certain aspect of the nitrogen cycle; this could be used to create either a formal or informal assessment task where the students would have to continue the cycle from where the animation left off. This way the animation gets them interested in the nitrogen cycle, enough to engage them into further research into the nitrogen cycle creating an inquiry based project for the students.

 

Justification: This resource has been chosen as it is a simply yet effective way to get a student interested in the topic. The fact that each student can take control of the exercise means each of the students can move through the animation at their own pace and process the information at their own speed, a key element to learning that is often hard to achieve on a class scale. The strengths of this resource are that it is a computer interactive task which integrates scientific theory with accompanied animations to illustrate the facts to students. This is good as some students respond very well to material that is presented in a visual format. An additional strength of this resource is that the text that is provided is short but still gives students all the necessary information they need to grasp the key concepts of the nitrogen cycle.  Some weaknesses of this resources is that you can’t go backwards after progressing, which some students may need if they want to clarify what has happened in between sections. This means students will have to go  through each section before they can revisit a particular section, this could frustrate students and disengage them. Another weakness is that the information and animation regarding particular elements and compounds is expressed in scientific notation (e.g. NO3) and many students may find this type of terminology confusing or they may not understand it at all, which would cause students to disengage. For this resource to be used effectively the teacher should be quite involved when students move through the exercise in order to address any student’s concerns or misinterpretations. 

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