Modeling Is Awesome
Posted: Monday, November 14th, 2016
by Peter A’Hearn
A few years ago a team of us was teaching an astronomy lesson: “What causes night and day?” Kids watched a time-lapse of the sky over the course of several days. Then we asked the question. We gave the kids a few moments to discuss with a partner and it was obvious that they all had the same answer, “The Earth turns!”
Seems like they already understand, time to move on to the next lesson, right?
To make sure, we gave a group of students a choice of balls and lights and asked them to come up with a way to explain night and day more fully. As groups began to demonstrate their understanding, the confusion quickly became very clear. There were groups that had a slow turning Earth and a faster Sun going around. Some Suns turned into the Moon at night. Some Suns turned off at night. Some just held the balls and said they really didn’t know. We can’t actually see the Earth turning—we need to make a picture in the mind’s eye if we want to imagine what that looks like. How can we know if that picture is correct if it is not made visible?
A recent discussion about the NGSS Science and Engineering Practice of “Developing and Using Models made me think about a poem I have had posted by my desk for years.
“The world is full of mostly invisible things”
-from To David About His Education by Howard Nemerov
The complete text can be found here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/52813.
I’ll wait here for a bit while you click the link and read it.
It occurred to me that having kids make conceptual models that show their thinking is how we as teachers can begin to attack the “grand confusion” of the poem.
Modeling is about making the invisible visible. When we ask students to make models of their understanding, we can quickly get past the “right” words and definitions to find out what they really understand and don’t. Modeling is the practice within the NGSS that will feel new to most teachers. It is well worth teacher’s time to explore this practice and become good at getting your students to make models that make their thinking visible. Instead of keeping our confusion about the world under our hats, modeling asks us to make our thinking visible, where we can discuss, and debate, and begin to see more steadily and whole.
Posted: Thursday, January 26th, 2017
California Alternate Assessment for Science Training Sample Is Here!
The training test for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science is now available on the CAASPP Portal CAAs Web page! This training test is the same type of embedded performance task (PT) that will be administered during this year’s pilot CAA for Science. Designed to be administered one on one, the training test PT is nonsecure and for use in preparing for the pilot CAA for Science.
The training test is aligned with the grade five California Next Generation Science Standards but can be used by students in any of the tested grades to familiarize both educators, students, parents, and stakeholders with the testing format of the pilot. The CDE is preparing a letter for LEAs to use to inform parents about this innovative test and the availability of the training test. Learn More…
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. Register online 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…
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…
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.