December 2014 – Vol. 27 No. 4

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

NGSS_Blog_Photo_1

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

NGSSLogo

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…)

Calling All Science Teachers – Your Expertise Is Required!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The State Board of Education (SBE) is recruiting members of the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC). The CFCC will play a significant role in the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS), adopted by the SBE in September 2013, and to reflect current research in science instruction. The CFCC provides input into the initial draft of the revised framework in accordance with guidelines approved by the SBE. Click here to access the online application.

What kind of people make up the CFCC and how are they appointed? (more…)

NGSS Science Framework Committee Recruitment has begun – Deadline to apply is April 16, 2014, 3:00 PM

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) are pleased to announce that they are recruiting applicants for the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) to assist with the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (CA–NGSS), that were adopted by the SBE in September 2013. Curriculum frameworks provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom. Applications will be accepted until April 16, 2014 at 3 p.m. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will submit a list of recommended applicants to the SBE for appointment in May of 2014. Click here to access the online application.

Update from the California Department of Education: California Alternative Discipline Specific Model for Grades 6-8

Monday, February 10th, 2014

In September 2013, the California State Board of Education (SBE) unanimously approved the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as California’s new K-12 science standards. In November 2013, the SBE approved an integrated model of these standards, developed by the California Science Expert Panel (SEP), as the preferred model for California middle grades six through eight.

At the same November SBE meeting, the SBE approved a recommendation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to reconvene the SEP in order “to develop … as an alternative model … a discipline specific model” for the grade span of 6-8. The model was to be based upon the guidance for developing a domain specific model as outlined by Achieve in the NGSS Appendix K.

The Board’s clear intent in their November action was for there to be one Integrated NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8 that was preferred by the SPI and the Board, and one Discipline Specific NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8, as an alternate.  (more…)

Could You Actually Like the NGSS Assessments?

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

When teachers are asked about their concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards, questions about assessments top the list. This is not surprising. State assessments have been a stick to beat teachers with for a long time now and, like a dog that has been hit with a stick, teachers have learned to cower. Our thoughts about assessments often assume that the new assessment system will be like our current uninformative and punitive assessment system. An assessment system like that would: (more…)

NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #1

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Heather Wygant

I had the privilege of being chosen to serve on the first NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group in San Francisco on January 25, 2014. Four more focus groups will be held over the next several weeks throughout California. These focus groups are charged with creating the guidelines for the upcoming Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) as they develop the next Science Framework for California. The San Francisco focus group had almost 300 applicants and only 10 were chosen, including San Francisco Bay Area classroom teachers, science curriculum coordinators, and science coaches. (more…)

Highlights from NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #3

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Jill Grace

I had the pleasure of attending the Science Curriculum Framework Focus group in Orange County on January 31, 2014.  The focus group was hosted by the Orange County Department of Education with 3 other counties, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Riverside, participating via teleconference.  A huge shout out to the 80 dedicated individuals who attended and had to brave rush-hour traffic on a Friday evening!  It was also nice to see several dedicated members of the Instructional Quality Commission present among the four counties listening in on the conversation.   (more…)

Move Fast or Move Slow?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

The CST tests are now well on their way out. There are science tests at grades 5, 8, and 10 set to take place at the end of the 2014 school year, but they will not affect a school’s AYP (they never have) and most likely will not affect a school’s API, which will likely be frozen for two years. Even when testing was still an issue, there was plenty that teachers eager to shift toward NGSS could do and now that the testing pressure is off, more teachers are looking at making the real changes that NGSS will require. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards Update: Looking Forward to 2014

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

2014 will be a very busy year for the Next Generation Science Standards in California. On November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education took action on the issue of the middle school learning progression that they had left undecided at their September 2013 meeting. Their decision was to accept the revised recommendation that California adopt the integrated model as developed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as the preferred model for California middle grades science instruction, and to reconvene the SEP  to develop a discipline specific model based on the domain specific model in Appendix K. The SEP is meeting on December 4 and 5 to begin this task. Once the SEP completes their work (estimated March 2014) school districts will be able to evaluate both – and choose between the integrated and discipline-specific models based on which they think will best serve their students. No further State Board action will be required to adopt the alternative discipline-specific arrangement. I encourage you to read NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush for tips and information.

2014 will bring a number of opportunities for science teachers to become involved in the NGSS implementation process: (more…)

NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jill Grace and Marian Murphy-Shaw

Since April 2013 when the national version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) went public, California has been working at a steady pace to move from lead contributing state to active implementation. CSTA members and other readers of California Classroom Science may be the best informed educators in the state on NGSS at this time. This article is intended to aid middle grade teachers in communicating up-to-date information to your colleagues in science education and the educational leaders you work with.

The number one point which science education leaders, the California Department of Education (CDE), professional learning providers, and the NGSS Achieve group are all making is not to rush, there is no hurry, that 2016-17 is the probable target for full implementation. As with Common Core implementation, a sequence of events, resource preparation, policies, and teacher awareness and transition support will all occur over the next few years. Now that you can breathe again, here is a rundown of common questions and next steps to consider as you start the work towards toward NGSS implementation.  (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces State Approves Middle Grade Recommendations for Modern Science Standards Science Expert Panel to Reconvene and Consider Additional Model

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

November 6, 2013 Press Release from the California Department of Education:

SACRAMENTO—California’s move to modern new science standards took another step forward as the State Board of Education approved a preferred model for middle grade learning progressions, which integrate science instruction, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today. (more…)