Kindergarten Teachers Take On the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
Posted: Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
by Karal S. Blankenship and Claudia Mitchell
Science in Kindergarten is no different than teaching science in other grades. Students come to us full of wonder, resulting in endless questions. We strive to provide opportunities for our students to become active listeners, use critical thinking skills, to observe, and to make sense of the work around them. This provides our students the chance to develop a deep appreciation for science. This is nuts and bolts of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Our journey with the NGSS began with the California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative Grant. Teachers were brought together to deepen their understanding of science, at an adult level, using the same strategies we would then take on with our students. At the same time we were learning more about the NGSS and learning to think about more than just the science ideas we used to think of as our content. We were learning how to include the Crosscutting Concepts and Science and Engineering Practices along with the Disciplinary Core Ideas to make our lesson plans three-dimensional.
After that first summer institute, we went to work in small grade level groups. We came together twice during the school year, planning a lesson that would then be taught in one of our classrooms by the group and then be taken back to all our classrooms to try on our own. When planning, our goal was to include the three dimensions of the NGSS. As with any good lesson, we learned that not everything can be included in that “one perfect lesson,” but we learned that as we thought of the flow of lessons, the three dimensions helped to guide our long range planning.
This is the lesson that we created in the spring of 2016. Try it out. There are some important shifts we were thoughtful about in the lesson, but because they are so natural for students, they make sense and will come naturally to the teacher after a while. There are just a few more components to think about when planning. For example, we want the students to engage more, to talk, and to question.
Students discovering how gentle and hard pushes affect the speed of a ball.
This lesson was planned to introduce the learning sequence. When we came together to plan we realized that in kindergarten, “pushes and pulls” are not easily identified. So we discussed how our learning sequence should include multiple opportunities to observe “pushes and pulls.” We also realized that the Science and Engineering Practice of “Analyzing and Interpreting Data” would be the most useful to help students discover ideas around the concept of push and pulls. While the Performance Expectation K-PS2-1 called for “Planning and Carrying out Investigations”, we chose to focus on getting students to really look at what was happening with the balls and learning how to interpret what they were seeing. Since we planned this lesson as an introduction to the learning sequence, we knew we could include “Planning and Carrying out Investigations”, later in the sequence. Future lesson included taking the students outside to focus on “really” hard pushes, and what happens to the direction the ball takes. After several opportunities to explore and explain pushes, we moved to pulls, and finally, collisions. This is where we chose to include “Planning and Carrying Out Investigations.”
One of our big “aha’s” was centering the lesson around a phenomenon the students would try to explain. As we wrestled with the use of phenomenon in the lesson, we discovered the students let us know if we had found something that really triggered their thinking. When we did, students talked about and referred to the phenomenon throughout (and that even carried over into other lessons). That was when we knew we had found a quality phenomenon. If students only talked about it during the one lesson, we knew it didn’t encourage their connections deeply enough.
We have also realized that because groups of children are different each year, we have to be prepared, always be looking for quality ideas to introduce new information. Don’t worry if things don’t go the way you intended. Student-centered instruction means that you have to build from your students’ understanding. This last year we had to be ready to adapt, to provide students experiences to answer the questions they still had, and we had to keep reading resources that support the NGSS. We found that when we thought our students were taking us off topic, they were really just needing another step to build their understanding and that we had not provided experiences to bridge their learning. This helped us be more careful planners of instruction.
Useful NGSS Resources:
National Research Council (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. (2013).
- Appendix E: Disciplinary Core Idea Progressions
- Appendix F: Science and Engineering Practices
- Appendix G: Crosscutting Concepts
- K-PS2-1 Evidence Statements
Walt Disney Animation Studios. (2011, November 16). The Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Stuck at Rabbit’s House. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDm3NlSSJyg&feature=youtu.be
Karal S. Blankenship is a kindergarten teacher at SDUSD, and a Core Leadership Team Leader of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, and a member of CSTA.
Claudia Mitchell is a kindergarten teacher at Cherokee Point Elementary, SDUSD, a Lead Teacher in the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, and a member of CSTA.
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…