Since early 1999, several members of ISTAT—David Barrios, Jennifer Fong, Lind Gee, Jennifer Johnson, Eric Lewis, and Anne Monk—have been working to develop a scope and sequence in Earth sciences for 9th grade in the San Francisco Unified School District. An early workshop in November 1999 introduced a small group of teachers to the web-based resource, and provided the development team with crucial feedback on the content and organization of the scope and sequence. In November, 2000, a second workshop unveiled a reorganized, revamped and expanded scope and sequence.
Jennifer Fong talks with an attendee
during the November 2000 workshop.
One new addition is a series of possible course outlines that draws upon the scope and sequence. The 12-week unit is designed to follow an astronomy unit that also introduces the scientific method and basic science skills. Two 9-week unit options are designed to start the year: one introduces geology along with the scientific method and basic science skills; the other is organized to follow an introductory "What is Science" week. A six-week unit outline also introduces geology along with the scientific method and basic science skills, but within only six weeks. Teachers at the November 2000 workshop identified these outlines as a major contribution to the scope and sequence.

Earth Science in the News
Another new addition is a monthly feature titled Earth Science in the News. The team selects an interesting story each month, emphasizing recent research results. They draw on articles published on-line, provide links to related materials and Web sites, and identify relevant classroom activities. Teachers can explore the current month's topic, or browse back issues. Previous topics have included stories on the Mayon volcano eruption, earthquakes, birdlike dinosaur fossils, and glaciers. Comments from teachers who attended the recent workshop indicated that they like Earth Science in the News and plan to use it.
Curious about how their audience was responding to their web resources, the team began compiling visitor statistics in mid-1999. From July 1999 to November 2000, the number of visitors each month grew from 7 to 825, despite the fact that the pages were still under development and were not widely advertised. In mid-2000, the team began keeping track of the number of visitors who were repeat visitors from the previous month. From June, 2000 to November, 2000 this number grew from 28 to 120! They noted a jump in visitorship at the beginning of each month, when Earth Science in the News is normally posted.
Based on feedback from the second workshop, the development team has begun to work on several more enhancements, and is making plans to introduce the materials to more teachers. Ideas include:
  • Adding a middle-school level course outline.
  • Including sample tests, quizzes, and projects for assessment.
  • Developing pages focusing on meteorology.
  • Offering intensive after-school workshops for teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District.

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