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Harold McWilliams

Geotimes 49 (9) (2004)


Across the country, teachers are struggling to meet new demands for accountability that focus on standardized testing, while still leading their students to a deeper understanding of core scientific ideas and the nature of science. Observations of science classrooms continue to document the poor quality of most lessons. And studies of textbooks reveal an overwhelming number of topics in the curriculum, leading to the charge that the U.S. science curriculum is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Part of the solution to these shortfalls may lie with a new professional development program called Earth Science by Design (ESBD).

ESBD promotes creating stronger, more professional earth science teachers, fully versed in the core ideas of their discipline and skilled in the curriculum design techniques that the best developers have used for years. Based on the “Understanding by Design” approach developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in 1998, the program, funded by the National Science Foundation and created by TERC (a nonprofit education association) and the American Geological Institute (which publishes Geotimes), is turning middle school earth science teachers into “educational designers.”

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