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 email@example.com.
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.
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…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
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…
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…
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…