May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Next Generation Science Standards Update

Posted: Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

The second public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards will be released on January 8, 2013.  I urge all who are interested in a better science education for our kids to attend a public review session or review on your own.  Click here for information on how to submit a review.

In speaking with science teachers, most have high enthusiasm and hope for the new standards. Enthusiasm and hope are good things, but what is really needed is for classroom practitioners to apply their vision and creativity to these standards. For example, as you review, consider the following: Is that the best practice to connect to that standard, or have you used one that is more effective? Will this standard be more appropriate for younger or older students?  Does the chosen cross-cutting concept really connect strongly to this concept?

I have young daughters and these will be their science standards.  Are these the standards our children deserve?

I have been to many meetings where either the NGSS or the Common Core Standards were introduced. Inevitably, classroom teachers ask what the assessment system will be and when they will get curriculum. Assessment seems to be the most strongly felt concern, and this makes sense.  Teachers have learned that the assessment system is the standard.

If an animal is hit with a stick, it will become wary of sticks, and so teachers have similarly become wary of assessments and the systems in which they are embedded.  Teachers understand that assessments and accountability are vital and potentially positive. But most teachers want assessments that give useful and timely feedback, involve more carrots than sticks, don’t narrow the curriculum to that which can be assessed by multiple guess, and don’t push science, art, and history out of the classroom.

In her opening keynote at the 2012 California Science Education Conference, Dr. Helen Quinn acknowledged the critical role of assessment by telling the audience that they need to be patient, that the writers of the NGSS understand the centrality of testing and would rather go slow than be quick get it wrong. That was good advice, but we already have some hints about what the assessments will be like.

Although we will have to wait to learn the grades in which they’ll be administered and how they’ll be weighted, there are some places to go to get a sense of what a well-designed science test for the NGSS might look like. One is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

NEAP is otherwise known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” and in 2009 they pilot-tested some multi-step computer based science items and collected data on the results. The NGSS framework points to it in the section on assessment as an example of what computer based assessments are capable of doing. There are nine items requiring students to select data, draw conclusions based on it, and connect it to the body of science knowledge they have learned.

There are also sample items for the Smarter Balanced Assessment of the Common Core.  This site has examples of the types of items that will be found on the Common Core English and Math tests. It is a strong possibility the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will also be involved in the science tests. The interesting thing to note for science teachers is how many of the English and math items require kids to do the NGSS science practices, especially in the multi-step performance tasks. Check out the math performance task on crickets at the high school level or the elementary English task on animal defenses for good examples of how to integrate science into English and Math.

There are many unanswered questions about the NGSS tests, but there is good reason to hope that they will honor real science teaching more that our current system does. Happy New Year!

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.