April 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 8

NGSS Statewide Symposia: NGSS Transition Phase – Rollout II

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Laura Henriques

Almost 2,000 of us attended the state’s first round of NGSS workshops. These were two-day symposia held around the state to help district teams of teacher-leaders and administrators learn about Next Generation Science Standards and start to think about what NGSS is, how to plan and think about three-dimensional learning and increase awareness. As the “Rollout I” sessions come to a close (there are two left), “Rollout II” is getting ready to debut.

NGSS Transition Phase Rollout II symposia will again be two full days of NGSS. The sessions for the two days were jointly developed by the consortium of CSTA, California Science Project, K-12 Alliance/WestEd, County Offices of Education and the California Department of Education. The lead presenters for each session will be representatives from these five groups. (more…)

NGSS March Madness Edition – a Sports Analogy

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Imagine this scenario:

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You sign your daughter up to be on an elementary age basketball team. After several weeks, you ask your kid how they like playing basketball. Your kid says they never play basketball, they run drills. You ask the coach when they will play basketball and the coach says, “They aren’t good enough to play basketball yet. They really don’t have the skills down, they can’t dribble well, shoot well, pass well, and can barely run any plays.” Then you ask when they will be ready to play basketball and the coach answers, “Oh probably in 10 or 12 years they will have learned enough to play the game.” (more…)

Engineering Brings It All Together

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

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I am really enjoying the creativity that NGSS is awakening in teachers. Those who want to create are taking the standards (and the freedom that comes from the lack of a test) and really exploring what engages their students. I found though, that even when trying our best to match up to the expectations of NGSS, there is a feeling that we missed something. Did we remember the crosscutting concepts? Did the students engage in the practices at the level that NGSS expects? Did we get to the engineering? How about the Nature of Science? Was the content deep enough to really teach the DCI to the point where it could be applied to a new situation? Was it engaging? About a real world phenomenon or problem? (more…)

California’s NGSS Early Implementers Meet for Mid-Year Training

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Corrected March 9, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

The last time we were all together was August of 2014. Since then, we have ‘experimented’ with implementing the Next Generation of Science Standards with varying degrees of success. We have come to Claremont, California to continue our NGSS education and to gain leadership skills we will pass on to our colleagues when they join us in this process next summer. We are the eight school districts and two CMOs (Charter Management Organizations) chosen for the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative* – Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Kings Canyon Unified School District, Lakeside Union School District, Oakland Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Tracy Unified School District, and Vista Unified School District, Aspire, and High Tech High – and we are excited to begin. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards Statewide Rollout Phase 2

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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updated March 27, 2015

The NGSS Statewide Rollout Phase 2 has begun! This 2-Day Symposia is being offered at the San Joaquin County Office of Education April 27th and 28th, 2015. Come to the first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia exploring the next steps in the journey toward NGSS Implementation.

This is a collaborative effort that includes the California Department of Education, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the K-12 Alliance/WestEd. Click here for the event flyer. Click here to register online. (more…)

Bold: adj. Showing the Ability to Take Risks

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

I just finished my first attempt at planning and implementing a Next Generation of Science Standards Lesson Series.   While I never intended it to be printed in a statewide publication, I am reminded of the words of Stephen Pruitt, Achieve Senior Vice President, Content, Research & Development, in an address to California Science Educators in September 2014 when he said,

Be bold

Since hearing those words, I have tried to apply them to everything I do regarding NGSS – including sharing a lesson series that is far from exemplar. While the lesson series does not always provide learning at the nexus of all 3 dimensions of NGSS – Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), and Crosscutting Concepts – it does provide students opportunities to take control of their own learning and reflect on their learning progress. (more…)

NGSS@NSTA Now Offers More Resources Than Ever – with More Soon to Come

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

by Rodney Olson

Along with CSTA, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is helping science educators implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). One way they are doing this is by vetting resources that are aligned to the NGSS. In the fall of 2013, NSTA selected 55 science educators from across the nation to serve as NGSS@NSTA Curators.  California has four curators: Mary Koga, Melanie Brown-Davis, Erica Motamed, and Rodney Olson (all CSTA members). Curators have have been hard at work selecting, vetting, and curating valuable resources that teachers can use in their classrooms to fully engage their students in NGSS-rich lessons. NSTA plans to post the curated resources on the NSTA website (http://ngss.nsta.org/)—called the NGSS@NSTA Hub—sometime this spring. Resources will continue to be added to the Hub over the coming months and years. (more…)

The NGSS Crosscutting Concepts Make Science Learning 3D!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

The idea that structure relates to function is pretty abstract for 1st graders. To get them thinking about structure and function in living things we started by having them draw a picture of what they thought a fish looks like. I have found that people have preconceived, cartoon versions of what things look like in their heads that can interfere with their ability to make objective observations of the real thing; it is helpful to give them a chance to draw that cartoon before having them observe the real thing and compare it to their drawing. (See How People Learn [1] for more about prior knowledge and also more about fish).  (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards: Jump Right In

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Jennifer McGranahan

In the midst of all that is new this year – implementing Common Core for Language Arts and Mathematics, the new ELA/ELD Framework and our district’s Personalized Learning Plans – we are also hearing more about the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). As a 6th grade classroom teacher, when I heard the acronym “NGSS,” I quickly put it out of my mind. My brain couldn’t face one more new expectation. However, I had majored in biology in college and had decided I wanted to focus on improving my teaching in science, and NGSS kept creeping back into my thoughts no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. Before I knew it, I was part of a team of teachers in my district selected to be part of the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. With the honor of being an Early Implementer came trainings during the summer and regular school year, and hours crafting and planning “beautiful” NGSS lessons that include 3-dimensional learning that I am not familiar with. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Actually, it is!!  (more…)

Crosscutting Concepts Part 1: Patterns in K-2

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Cross Cut Symbol for Patterns. Used with permission from CrossCutSymbols. http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/

Cross Cut Symbol for Patterns. Used with permission from CrossCutSymbols. http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/

As early childhood science educators, we are beginning to explore and gain understanding about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We know that NGSS will require us to teach science through three dimensions: practices, disciplinary core ideas (i.e. content), and crosscutting concepts. In the past our main emphasis was teaching science through one or sometimes two dimensions with lessons focused on conveying factual content of physical, life, and earth/space sciences, with perhaps some practices added in (formerly known as science process skills). However, three-dimensional learning requires us to take an entirely new approach to science education, one that deliberately teaches with all dimensions.

This article will be the first in a series exploring crosscutting concepts and offering some ideas for applications in the primary grades. Crosscutting concepts “provide students with connections and intellectual tools that are related across the different areas of disciplinary content and can enrich the application of practices and their understanding of core ideas (NRC, 2012, pg. 233)”. In other words, these fundamental conceptual tools are necessary for students to learn effectively, and must be specifically nurtured and referenced throughout all grade levels in all disciplines.  (more…)

The E Word

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Jill Grace

There’s so much excitement lately in the world of NGSS. There is an energy I haven’t felt since I was a new teacher. It’s palpable. Teachers are once again the learners, outside our comfort zones trekking along a new path, making new discoveries, trying new things. Some of these new experiences are fantastic and fill us with a new sense of purpose and inspiration. Some end up being things we profusely apologize to our students for, “Sorry guys, that pretty much didn’t work out at all, let’s try this instead”. No doubt this is an exhaustive process, mentally and even sometimes physically, and on some days we might wish we could crawl up on our couches under that super fluffy blanket (insert comforting beverage of your choice) and forget that change is upon us. But it’s also exhilarating. It makes you feel alive again.

Given all of the changes, I have been feeling pretty comfortable. I thrive in “big idea land” and love weaving multiple layers into my instruction, so the whole 3D aspect to NGSS is gratifying to me (3D = the blending of Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross Cutting Concepts). I love the challenge of getting my students to the point where they have their “ah ha!” moment and see it all come together. With my background in marine biology, a very “integrated” field, I’ve had an easier time wrapping my head around the middle school progressions and seeing the connections in a way that I can tell is harder for many of my colleagues. I’ve been feeling pretty great about it all. Except for one tiny little thing.

Engineering. (more…)

Planning Professional Learning Using the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by John Spiegel, Anthony Quan, and Yamileth Shimojyo

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have the ability to transform teaching and learning in the classroom. They will dramatically change how students experience science by shifting the focus from the memorization of facts to greater student engagement in the processes of science. The NGSS emphasize learning in three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. In addition, there are seven Conceptual Shifts, or Innovations, that have strong implications for teaching and learning. These shifts include the interconnected nature of science as practiced in the real world, the integration of science and engineering, the use of performance expectations, a focus on deeper understanding of content as well as application of content, and alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will ultimately be tasked with implementing the NGSS, but cannot do so without extensive time to plan and engage in professional learning. (more…)

Is NGSS the End of Vocabulary?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

An exchange from a recent 4th grade lesson (excerpted):

[1] The Three Dimensions of Learning are found in Appendix E, F, and G at  and Chapters 3-8 from The Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (NRC, 2012) can be found here.

National Park Service Photo by Neal Herbert

National Park Service Photo by Neal Herbert

Teacher: What processes make a canyon?

Student (after pair sharing): Erosion.

Teacher: Tell me more about what that means…

Student: Erosion. (more…)

Making NGSS Informal (Is There Really Such a Thing as Formal Science?)

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

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I had a conversation with Cristina Trecha of the San Diego Science Project about NGSS and informal science, and about the work she has been doing to help science centers make the shifts to NGSS.

Peter: So I see from your Twitter feed that you have been doing lots of work with the informal science community on NGSS. (more…)

Science and Math: Working to Connect NGSS and CCSS

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

All science people know that there is a strong connection between science and math, so finding the connections between the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Math Standards should be a no brainer. Last year, Palm Springs USD conducted a dozen Science/Math lesson studies to explore the connections. We found many strong connections and also identified some challenges in putting the two sets of standards together. (more…)

NGSS Early Implementation Begins!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

Galt Elementary School District embraces change. (Photo by Lisa Hegdahl)

Galt Elementary School District embraces change. (Photo by Lisa Hegdahl)

On Sunday, August 3, 2014, 120 teachers, administrators, and other science specialists from eight California school districts and two California Charter Management Organizations, converged on Stone Brewery in San Diego. The meet-and-greet reception and ice breaker transitioned into brief speeches by K-12 Alliance Statewide Director Kathy DiRanna, Senior Vice President of Content Research and Development for Achieve Incorporated Steve Pruitt, and California State Board of Education member Trish Boyd Williams. Everyone in the room could feel that they were about to be part of something very special. I was fortunate to be one of many in the crowd that night. Below are some of my impressions of the days that followed. (more…)

Introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards: A Paradigm Shift in Teaching & Learning – Two Locations

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

This full-day workshop will highlight the many shifts required of both teachers and learners under the Next Generation Science Standards. In the morning session, participants will engage in an overview of the NGSS and its Three Dimensions. During the afternoon sessions, participants will be invited to experience either a K-5 or 6-12 session. Each of these sessions will further explore the NGSS with an emphasis on the impact it will have within K-5 and 6-12 classrooms.

This workshop is co-hosted by CSTA and CASCD – members of either organization may register at the member rate! Registration for the full day is only $90 if you register by the early bird deadline and includes lunch.

Participants will leave with:

  • An awareness of the NGSS and its Three Dimensions as they reflect the interconnected nature of science as it is practiced and experienced in the real world
  • An awareness that the Performance Expectations will guide instruction and assessment
  • An awareness of how the NGSS is aligned with the Common Core State Standards
  • An awareness that the NGSS supports 21st Century Learning

Presenters: Jared Marr, Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist and Michelle French, Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist at the Tulare County Office of Education (more…)

CALL FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON Next Generation Science Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce that the first draft of Next Generation Science Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California is available online at the CDE’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Web page at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssintrod.asp  The purpose of this document is to assist the CDE, California local educational agencies (LEAs), and support providers in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS). The plan identifies eight strategies and accompanying elements and activities for the implementation of the CA NGSS. By utilizing this plan, the CDE, LEAs, support providers, and all stakeholders will have the potential to transform science education in California to create a different way of thinking about teaching and learning science.

Comments and suggestions for improvement may be submitted to ngss@cde.ca.gov by close of business Monday, August 25, 2014.  If you have any questions, you may call the CDE’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Office at 916-323-5847, or submit questions to the NGSS mailbox at ngss@cde.ca.gov .

NGSS Implementation Update

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

The following provides updates on the status of various aspects of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards in California. Topics covered are statewide assessments for science, curriculum framework development, and NGSS professional learning opportunities.

Assessment

July 15 – 18, 2014 two two-day meetings of science education stakeholders will be held in Sacramento to start the process that was set forth in legislation (AB 484) last year to develop new statewide assessment for science that will comply with federal assessment requirements and align with the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools. The participants of the stakeholder meeting are California science teachers, individuals with expertise in assessing English learners and pupils with disabilities, parents, and measurement experts. There will be several CSTA members serving as participants in the stakeholder meetings. Our thanks goes to those members who answered CSTA’s call for volunteers and are committing two days of their summer to participate in these important meetings.

(more…)

Middle School Madness: The Integrated or Discipline Specific Choice

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Robert Sherriff

As a middle school science teacher for the past 23 years, I am very interested in the implementation the Next Generation Science Standards. I was proud to be one of only two middle school teachers (along with one 6th grade self contained teacher who also represented the middle school grade span) on California’s Science Expert Panel (SEP) for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

In this context, I’d like to address the debate between the NGSS integrated model or alternative model for middle school (K-5 is required to be integrated). I started with the many of the same concerns that middle school teachers have expressed with an integrated model. (more…)

Teachers Discussing the Challenges of Implementing NGSS

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

The following is a conversation that took place between a group of science teachers on a patio on a warm Southern California night after a long day of science training. The topic of conversation was the challenges of implementing NGSS.

K. (2nd grade teacher): I am overwhelmed by the huge shift in instruction and the level of rigor that is being asked for. It’s overwhelming. When you think about time and what we have to doI do lots of rigor but when you think about other teachers who are on page 345 in their study book and how they are going to have to change. (more…)

Get Started with NGSS and Common Core

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

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A wave of change is surging through the California K-12 education system. Are you ready to jump on the surf board and ride that wave, or are you running for higher ground?

Join two longtime science education experts—Cynthia Passmore, associate professor at UC Davis and Kathy DiRanna, director of the K-12 Alliance at WestED—for a FREE 90-minute online web seminar on June 17 that will introduce you to the changes coming with Next Generation Science Standards, how NGSS and Common Core will move our students from “knowing about” to “figuring out”, and how “figuring it out” in all science subjects means learning through practices. (more…)

Middle School Integrated Science – Get Over It

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Pete A’Hearn

Okay, let’s face it, you are eventually going to the California integrated middle school progressions under NGSS. Time to get over it and start to plan the path forward. (Note: this is my opinion and not the opinion of CSTA.)

Why am I so sure? Because I have looked at the two possibilities closely and once you have, it’s a no-brainer. Here is the domain specific model: (more…)

187 Stakeholders Dive Deep into NGSS

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

The first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia to explore the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) took place at the San Joaquin County Office of Education on April 28th and 29th.  The Symposium was a collaborative effort of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Sacramento County Office of Education, K-12 Alliance/West Ed, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education.   (more…)

Finding My Way Down the NGSS Path – One Step at a Time

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

I want to preface this article by saying that I am a proud member of the CSTA Board Directors. I am also an 8th grade science teacher and have been for the past 23 years. While I am excited about the changes coming with the Next Generation of Science Standards, I am also asking many of the same questions as other middle school teachers: What will NGSS look like in my classroom when it is fully implemented? How do I prepare for the NGSS Performance Expectations I have not taught before? What will the assessment look like? And, just like other middle school teachers, I don’t have all the answers to all the questions, but I do know that there is a great deal of support available as we implement the new standards together. CSTA will continue to be an irreplaceable source of information as implementation continues, as will all the organizations with which CSTA works. Teachers will not have to figure out how to implement the NGSS alone. (more…)

NGSS: Storytellers Wanted

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Pete A’Hearn

Great teachers are great storytellers. They can take the dry facts and procedures in the standards or a textbook and weave them into a story that grips a kid’s attention. Stories are important. We know about some of humanity’s oldest ideas – The Illiad, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Bible – because they were great stories worth remembering and repeating long before they were written down. In the right hands, science can be a great story too. In episode 7 of Cosmos, (spoiler alert!) Neil DeGrasse-Tyson told a gripping tale about how the quest to find the age of Earth led to the realization that leaded gasoline was poisoning us. Having a compelling mystery to solve is what drives science but for some reason often doesn’t drive science education. It certainly has never been part of the standards. (more…)

CDE Posts Alternate Discipline Specific Middle Grades Learning Progression

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

On November 6, 2013 the State Board of Education approved both the the integrated learning progressions as proposed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as California’s preferred model AND a discipline specific model that to be developed by the same SEP based on Appendix K. Districts will have the option to choose what best meets the needs of their students. Both middle grade learning progressions are available below and on the CDE website along with supplemental explanatory documents.

The decision a district will have to make regarding which middle school learning progression will best meet the needs of their students will not be a simple one. CSTA recommends that districts consider the curriculum framework, instructional materials, and assessment are available. (more…)

First NGSS State Rollout Symposium – a Great Success!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

The first NGSS State Rollout Symposium was held at the San Joaquin County Office of Education on April 28 -29, 2014.  The Symposium was a collaborative effort of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Sacramento County Office of Education, K-12 Alliance/West Ed, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education. Nine workshops were presented by twenty-five state leaders to approximately 186 attendees with the goal of exploring the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the NGSS.

Six additional Rollout Symposia are scheduled throughout California between now and the end of October. The dates and locations are: (more…)

EQuIP Rubric for Science Released

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science was released April 11, 2014. The Rubric provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The purpose of the Rubric is to (1) provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; (2) review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed; and (3) identify exemplars/models for teachers’ use within and across states.

This document was developed in response to the recognition among educators that while curriculum and instruction will need to shift with the adoption of the NGSS, there is currently a lack of high-quality, NGSS-aligned materials. The power of the rubric is in the feedback it provides curriculum developers and in the productive conversations educators can have while evaluating materials.  (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium Dates and Locations Announced

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Updated September 18, 2014

K-12 Alliance/WestEd, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education Presents: Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1.

Join science leaders at the first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia exploring the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (more…)

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