January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Highlights from NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #3

Posted: 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.  

Since Heather did such a great job explaining the process, I thought I’d highlight a few of the suggestions put forth by both members of the focus group and members of the public.  There was a tremendous amount of information given, so keep in mind that these are just highlights.

One common theme that emerged from the meeting was the need to help teachers with the shift from what students KNOW to what they can DO.  Grade level examples with pedagogy and content, as well as rubrics for measuring success were requested.  It was emphasized that teachers will need help in understanding how engineering, literacy skills, nature of science, and crosscutting concepts can be embedded in the content, not taught as separate “units”.  It was also expressed that there was a need to help teachers identify what specific content and specific skills students would have acquired before “getting to my class” (like an atlas or learning map).  Models for different ways of bundling the standards were requested.  There were numerous suggestions for vignettes, videos of what NGSS looks like in a classroom, as well as an expanded resource website.

NGSS is designed to embed Common Core, so naturally conversation on this topic emerged.   It was requested that the framework help show the integration of math and language arts in an interdisciplinary way, and provide support ideas for cross-curricular training.  Incorporating some common language arts strategies that aren’t as familiar to science teachers, as well as known science education strategies that support literacy and metacognition would be helpful.  The frameworks should emphasize that reading and writing about science is not the same as doing and that hands on experiences can improve the literacy development in students – literacy and writing support science (not vice versa).  It was also stressed that because science is taught conceptually, this should inform collaborations between science teachers and other content teachers.  Further, distinguishing between evidence in science and evidence in ELA will be necessary.  Oh yes, and PLEASE help with finding quality, relevant, and grade-level appropriate readings for use with students in a science class.

Suggestions were made to help inform local education agencies about NGSS and including:

  • providing rationale by the Science Expert Panel for the middle grades learning progressions;
  • help with transitioning and “rolling out” NGSS;
  • help with professional development, information on credentialing, emphasizing equity across the State, and that science should be a full-year program for all students in all schools;
  • clearly defining and providing course protocol for what “life science”, “physical science”, and even “integrated science” should be at the high school levels are necessary as the existing courses do not necessarily hold up the vision or goals of NGSS. In addition, for students moving on beyond these courses, provide guidance for STEM bound students.  

Conversations arose about motivation for both teachers and students.  Suggestions were made to

  • emphasize that science should be hands-on;
  • connect students and teachers with scientists;
  • offer strategies on how to foster collaboration between higher education, informal/outdoor education groups, and non-profits and what this looks like in the classroom.

Other suggestions included requests to leave some flexibility for the creativity of teachers.  This flexibility could allow for differentiation of NGSS to meet the needs of a particular school population, allowing it to be relevant for those students and their community.  Framework writers were encouraged keep suggestions practical as many classrooms in California have large numbers of students, few supplies and resources, and only 45-55 minute periods.

Finally, another important theme emerged with respect to helping teachers understand the generality of the Performance Expectations (PEs).  There seems to be some confusion that because content isn’t explicitly stated in the PE, it won’t be taught.  Teachers will need guidance on how to build content to meet the goal of the PE. For example, although “acid base chemistry” isn’t explicitly stated, students would need to have an understanding of it to meet the high school standard HS-ESS3-6, which involves understanding the impact of human activity on Earth systems such as the ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, and others.  Although DNA isn’t explicitly stated, students would need to have some understanding of it to meet the expectations of the middle school standard MS-LS3, which involves understanding inheritance and variation of traits.  Teachers will need to know what prior knowledge students will have on the topic, as well as what new knowledge students will need to acquire to meet the PEs.

As mentioned previously, much more was shared beyond this, but these were some big themes that stood out to me.  Two more focus groups are being held in February: Sacramento with video conference locations from Humboldt, Shasta, and Siskiyou on February 4, 2014, and Fresno on February 11, 2014.  More info can be found at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/sc/cf/sciencefocgroup2014.asp.  Public comments are also encouraged by February 18, 2014.  You can submit your own comments to scienceframework@cde.ca.gov.

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is the President-elect for CSTA.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching.

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.

Opportunities to Support NGSS Implementation with CTC

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.

CSET Field Testing Opportunities

Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. 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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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.