Sunday, February 20, 2011

Teaching Units for the ICCARS Project

Unit Design

There have been a few questions that have been coming up regarding the Climate Change units that are due on April 8, 2011.  The blog is a good place to discuss the unit.  Please share your comments and suggestions.  This will be helpful so that everyone can learn from each other.

Please keep in mind that the unit you turn in on April 8 may look different from its final form in 2012.  You will be able to adjust your unit as you use it and as your thinking changes.  We will have a template within the next month that we will be using.  As long as you are doing your work in Word format (Office, Pages, etc.), you will not have a problem with the template.  It will just be a matter of cutting and pasting.  The work that you share does not have to be original work.  You are not expected to design brand new activities to do with students.  But please cite all of your work.  The goal of these units is to provide teachers, outside of our project, with units that they can use with their students.

There are three topics that need that must be included within each unit:
  •         Climate Change
  •         Remote Sensing
  •        NASA Data

There are two reasons why these topics must be included.  First, it is a requirement of the grant.  But secondly, in order to study climate change, the other topics are necessary.  In order to study climate change we need to collect data.  There are many ways to collect data.  Remote sensing is the act of collecting data about an object without physically contacting the object.  Our students will collect data from their local environment, which in turn can be added to the global database.  Probably the largest database comes from NASA.  We want students to know where they can turn to, in order to use data to support their conclusions.

As the units are developed, the process of inquiry should be clearly identified.  Inquiry will look very different in classrooms.  The sad part is that sometimes it is absent in a classroom.  Inquiry can be teacher directed, learner directed, or somewhere in between.  You are encouraged to look at the Inquiry Continuum to see where your classroom fits in.  Please visit:
to view the continuum. 

Another source  to view is the ACT College Readiness Standards.  It will provide you with guidance on what students should know about interpreting data, scientific investigations, and evaluating models, inference, and exponential results.  You can view the standards at:

Finally, the 5 E’s should be prevalent within your lessons.  The 5 E Instructional Model will promote the practice of inquiry.  The 5 E’s are Engage, Explore, Explain, Enrich, and Evaluate.  Normally it takes 3-5 classroom periods to get through the 5 E’s.  You are encouraged to visit:
This is the BSCS website where you can learn more about the instructional model.  Even NASA encourages teachers to use the 5 E model, as you can see at:
You can download a pdf document at:
which will allow you to view all of the components of each of the 5 E’s.  Even though the document was written for an elementary book, the chart on the 4th and 5th page provides the BSCS document for the BSCS 5 E Teacher and Student.  It should provide you with all of the information you need to understand each of the E’s.

Now for the unit!  You need to make sure that all of the following information is included (much of this has already been turned in, but now you are putting everything together into one document):
  1. Title of Unit
  2. Aligned list of the Standards, Statements, and or Expectations.
  3. List of the essential content that you want students to have.
  4. Major Understanding (s) and/or Minor Understandings.
  5. Essential Questions that need to be answered during the unit.
  6. List of instructional materials that you will be using in the unit.
  7. Day by day lesson plans, including:
    1. Pre/Post tests
    2. Instructional Activities (aligned to the 5E’s)
    3. Assessments and Evaluations

As you design your day-by-day lesson plans, you do not need complete lesson plans, but you need enough description so that others would have a clear idea of what they would have to do to mirror your instruction.

Tom Green has developed a unit on the Carbon Cycle, that you may want to use.  He will be making instructional videos to help explain how to implement them into your curriculum.  Please visit:

Please share you comments and your ideas.  The goal of this unit is twofold:
  • To provide instructional units for other teachers so that they can more effectively teach climate change to their students.
  • Provide you with the opportunity to show the quality of work that you do in the classroom.  It is your chance to be published.


  1. From Kathleen:
    Hi Dave,
    I read the info on the Blog and found it helpful. The only part I am not sure about is the NASA data. How do I incorporate that into my unit. Any advice would be helpful. I am sorry the weather cancelled tomorrow, I hope we can reschedule the lab time.
    Fair winds and following seas.

  2. Kathleen, did the webconference on Wednesday help with ideas on using data? Have you thought of any ideas since then regarding the use of da

  3. I really would like to study the 'greening' of an area to measure levels of photosynthesis as spring progresses. This will tie in nicely with the GLECs for middle school science.

  4. I was wondering if we are going to get feedback on our units of work. I was worried about mine, because I am not sure if it met all the requirements. The other reality is every Friday when I hold class ,my plans change. I am learning how to teach the unit as I go. Mine should really be considered a work in progress!