March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Comparing AP Science Practices, Common Core State Standards, and NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

by Bethany Dixon

At NSTA San Antonio and again at the California State Science Fair, I fell into a conversation about connecting NGSS Science and Engineering Practices and AP Biology Science Practices 1-7. In the past few years, ideas have converged on what it looks like to “Do Science:” the habits of mind necessary to develop scientific knowledge. This idea isn’t new to science education – scientific skills are still important. Haven’t we seen this before? We called it using the Scientific Method(s), or Levels of Inquiry, or whichever wrapper we’re putting things into… it doesn’t seem like the ideas of what constitute good science have changed. Or have they?

My question, from the best possible place of curiosity, is this: how is this different than what teachers have been asked to do before? Admittedly, I’m relatively new to the game, but shouldn’t science be happening in science classrooms, and doesn’t that generally involve teaching the basics of engineering and experimental design? Is it merely the idea that the process of science will now be assessed in a standardized way that is new? Is that even new? Watching the droves of teachers in line for sessions on linking NGSS and Common Core State Standards made me wonder if I’m missing some integral piece. With this in mind, here’s what I have gleaned so far from combing and combining the three documents with mentoring from those who have taught long enough to see the pendulum of change swing a few times.

1. Science Practices are iterative; they should be practiced often and with selective guidance to help lead students through inquiry; ranges of inquiry from confirmation labs through the levels of inquiry beginning with structured inquiry and leading to guided, and eventually open, inquiry. These labs are necessary to develop the skills of scientific thinking required for students to succeed at cognitively difficult tasks. Different skills should be isolated with different labs so students aren’t thrown off the deep end with a box of relevant but unknown toys. Teachers should be encouraged to help students uncover important content (making meaning through investigation) but should be cautious to ensure that enough time is taken to link each inquiry activity or modeling activity explicitly with objectives so that students are focused on the outcome of the process.

2. CCSS, the 7 AP Science Practices, and NGSS are already linked: science and engineering practices along with crosscutting concepts (cause and effect, modeling, using math appropriately, etc.) are embedded in the literature of effective science pedagogy. Labeling what we’re doing “Common Core-Friendly” is another standard to write on the board, but doesn’t change the important content-based literacy and numeracy tools we should already be using, such as reading science publications critically, engaging in argument, writing lab reports, collecting and interpreting appropriate data, etc.

3. Student engagement is your best weapon for increasing authentic inquiry. Process Oriented Inquiry Guided Learning (POGIL), case studies, Science Fair, Project Based Learning, etc., all point to giving students relevant choices so that “Real Life” and “Schoolwork” collide and make bookwork relevant. It seems like taking a basic survey of student science interests and framing the course around their real passions could be a powerful way to add relevance to the course: Essential Knowledge and standards are imperative and should be integrated for a content-rich course, but the framework gives teachers room for selection (no pun intended). Within careful limits, giving students choices over a few open-ended investigations that reflect their academic interests combined with teacher-prescribed labs create powerful learning experiences that students own and retain.

Building science skills and learning key information can be integrated, but students are more likely to retain that information if they can then apply it to solve a problem that they are already invested in. Working with the NGSS, AP Science Practices, and CCSS expands the “bull’s-eye” of what’s being tested to better reflect what good teachers already include. It isn’t more work: it just works better.

Written by Bethany Dixon

Bethany Dixon is a science teacher at Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, is a CSTA Publications Committee Member, and is a member of CSTA.

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California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”

I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.