May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

How to Shift to the 3-Dimensional Teaching of NOS for the CA NGSS: Chapter 10

Posted: Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Lawrence Flammer

Have you been wondering just how you can adapt your favorite lessons to comply with the 3 dimensions of the CA NGSS? And how to shift effectively from your “traditional” teaching style to an “authentic” scientific problem-solving approach? Well, did you read the draft version of the proposed CA Science Framework when it went out for public review last December? And did you get to chapter 10? If you did, you found answers to those first questions. If you didn’t, then DO take a look at Chapter 10.

When the draft was made public, you were strongly encouraged to read Chapters 1 and 2 first. Did you do that? I suspect that many teachers, busy with pre-vacation shut down may have put off their critique of the draft until vacation time. Then vacation time became more impacted than expected, so that critique probably became a minimal review of a specific grade level, and/or a specific subject area of particular experience and expertise. Many may have even skipped the reading of chapters 1 and 2 altogether. Well, if that describes your actions, then you may have just missed much of the material that provides excellent support for making the transition from your former teaching methods to the new expectations of the CA NGSS.

But I’m a retired science teacher. I’ve had time to read and explore many aspects of the NGSS as it was developing over the past few years. So I read Chapters 1 and 2 before digging into the topics and grade levels that are of the greatest interest to me. Chapter one pretty much confirmed most of what I had come to know about the NGSS, but there were a few aspects that were made clearer, so that was useful. But I was mainly looking for material that would actually help teachers to teach the unique features about the culture of science.

Much of the science illiteracy in our country can be traced directly to common misconceptions about the nature of science (NOS). This is not surprising given that an accurate picture of the NOS is seldom effectively presented in science textbooks or discussed in science classes. As a result, there is subsequent misuse and distrust of science by many people in our country.

Because of that, many educators have been scrutinizing the NGSS during their development to be sure that the new standards reflect more realistically the culture of science and what scientists actually do, and expect students to do the same thing in their classes. The NGSS do that. And the new CA Framework draft includes excellent suggestions and examples for implementing that NOS material, and teaching it effectively. The CA Framework mentions it in Chapter 2, and refers in several places to a more detailed treatment in Chapter 10.

All science teachers should see what has been included in the new California Science Framework (now in draft form) to help them understand and implement the NGSS. Go online to see Chapter 10: of that draft. Then note how early in this long chapter (on line 193, p. 9) begins several pages of strategies for teaching NOS. On line 216 (p. 10), it points out that “NOS must also be explicitly emphasized…” [to be effectively understood, according to research on the subject.] Then, at line 295 (p. 15), it begins a series of excellent examples to show how a topic can be integrated 3-dimensionally into a scientific problem-solving experience.

To see the contrast with “traditional” teaching, these examples start with a competent “pre-NGSS” treatment by “Ms. A.” followed by an analysis and how that approach could be modified to more closely meet the NGSS 3D mandate (line 358). This in turn is followed (line 464) by how Ms. B could provide the “Explicit Teaching of the NOS…” better-aligned with the CA NGSS  Instruction. Following this is a comparative analysis of those two examples (line 562). And this is followed with a brief example for how Mr. C could teach NOS to “young” (elementary) students in a 3D-NGSS fashion (line 581). Very compelling examples, greatly clarifying how teachers can adapt their “traditional” way of teaching to the 3D-NGSS. If you don’t have time to read the first draft of Chapter 10, be sure to read it in the second draft when the CA Science Curriculum Framework becomes available for public review, currently scheduled for June-July of 2016.

One of the likely barriers to teaching NOS explicitly is the probability that textbooks developed to teach NGSS will focus mostly on the science and engineering practices (for traditional topics), with little if any attention to key concepts of NOS. If textbooks continue to minimize NOS elements (as they have in the past), they will probably also lack engaging experiences for students to practice and reflect explicitly on any of the NOS elements that uniquely characterize science. But there is a solution.

In order to fill that likely gap, you have free access to a collection of about 25 student-centered interactive lessons that were designed to provide experiences with NOS elements explicitly. Those classroom-tested Nature of Science lessons are freely available on the ENSI website. There is also an e-text written for students that expands on those lessons. That e-text, Science Surprises: Exploring the Nature of Science, helps students to recognize the many popular misconceptions about science, and to repair them. More details about that e-text, and a teaching guide that helps to effectively integrate the lessons with the e-text, are available on the ENSI website.

Take the initiative: begin your science classes in the fall with several of those engaging NOS lessons on the ENSI website, and be sure your students follow the prompts to discuss and reflect on the aspects of science that each lesson illustrates. Then, throughout the year, you and your students can refer back to those NOS elements in the many science topics that you will explore, further reinforcing them, and deeply repairing many of the misconceptions about science. Your students will become truly scientifically literate.


Lawrence Flammer is a retired biology teacher, CSTA member, and webmaster for ENSIWEB (Evolution/Nature of Science Institutes Website). He can be reached at

Editor’s Note: A new version of the draft Science Curriculum Framework will be released for the second and final public review on June 28, 2016. That document will be available via

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:

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.