Friday, November 5, 2010

Module V: Ocean Systems Introductions

Essential Question: How are climate, cultures and oceans all connected?

Explain: What new learning or reflections have you taken away from this module?
This module, and past modules, are giving me tools to help students see concepts as a part of earth cycles and systmes and how the components of each work together.  Having been educated in a compartmentalized educational system, I think I learned a lot of isolated terms and processes without putting them together and seeing how they interact with one another.  It seems the end goal was to learn material to pass a formatted test.

So it's important that students see how processes like evaporation, condensation, heat capacity, etc. combine to form a cycle, like the water cycle.  Then they can see what that cycle's role is a broader system like the hydrosphere.  Finally, students can build on that foundation to linking earth systems together to see how it's all about energy transfer; the sun's heat and the earth's internal heat driving cycles that move energy and material through the components of the earth system.   

Having more ready resources to help make these connects is very valuable. Also, I don't think we often looked at global patterns and interactions in my own educational past, perhaps because global warming wasn't such a well-known or accepted phenomenon at that time.  It seems we have a much more compelling reason to do so now.

Another reflection that this module sparked was that of the impact of global warming on native Alaskan cultures.  I've thought of the effects on subsistence harvests but I hadn't thought of the impact on traditional knowledge.  In the TD video Global Warming Threatens Shishmaref the point is made that "traditional knowledge about weather patterns and ice conditions has become less reliable due to the accelerated pace of climate change".  Living from the Land and Sea speaks to how subsistence communities abide by certain rules in order to sustain the harvest.  Besides making hunting more challenging and potentially more dangerous, what does this change mean for how knowledge is passed between generations?  Are codes of behavior as relevant in a shifting landscape where subsistence harvests are changing? 
Extend: How might you use this week's resources in your lessons?
I can see using YouTube videos like Coriolis Effect and the TD video Ocean Temperatures and Climate Patterns as part of a study of how solar heating, wind, gravity and coriolis effect cause ocean currents.  Other sites I found this week that could help build background knowledge are Oceans Alive: Oceans in Motion and Ocean Motion, from NASA .  

I would want to start these studies with hands-on inquiry.  Oceans Alive has great hands-on ideas that could help students begin asking questions and constructing knowledge about ocean currents.  The TD Interactive Sea Surface Temperatures would be really helpful in teaching students how to observe climate data and pick out patterns.  Graphs like the ones included in this module would also help students learn to analyze data and search for patterns.  Questions generated from this activity could then be answered with the resources mentioned above so the patterns could then be analyzed and explained. 
Evaluate: How useful, insightful, or relevant are this module's information and resources? 
I see the videos from this week's module reinforcing and extending learning about ocean systems.  The visuals would help students really see these systems in action.  Seeing features across the globe on Google Earth can add to that experience.  I like Google Earth features like real-time data, historical views and National Geographic article links that can add background information to the images.  Resources from the Cultural Connections section make learning this information relevant especially as the arctic is a place where global warming effects are being seen first and first-hand.

3 Colleagues' Blogs
I like what Eric says in Eric Explores Alaska! about connecting with students' experiences.  He makes great connections between storytelling traditions in similar geographic locations.  Finally, great connections between geography, migration and culture.  

Thanks to Cheryl for the Arctic Time Lapse link on Explore Palmer!  What a great idea to make just such a video with kids in our area.   

Great pictures on Exploring Alaska with Kenai Kathy.  I also love the current events links in the sidebar.  Thanks for sharing how you used Google Earth in tracking crane migration, also a great idea.


  1. Tyler

    Did you find that the NASA videos were valuable even for your lower end kids?

  2. I liked the fact that you brought us back to cycles. Everything does seem to cycle. And I was also impressed with the cultural videos you linked to - Global Warming Threatens Shishmaref.

  3. I, too liked being brought back to cycles - another great way to show connectedness. The oceans alive site was good - I particularly liked the map where Pangea was reunited to show how much of the planet is covered by ocean.

  4. The oceans alive site is a great resource. Thanks for reminding me of it. Man, there is a lot of stuff out there. Wish I had the time....