January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

NGSS Implementation: A Leap of Reason

Posted: Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

by Jeff Schmitz

Any transformation in an organization, like a school or a district, can be a painstaking process of professional learning, creating buy-in, and fund sourcing. But the transformation swiftly gains momentum when individuals at the grassroots level begin jumping in with both feet. Our California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative Teacher Leaders in Vista Unified are starting to jump.

The jump is no mere leap of faith; it’s more like a “leap of reason.” Our Early Implementers spent time in the summer immersed in NGSS content and pedagogy under the tutelage of science education gurus from the K-12 Alliance and supporting institutions that include universities and other institutes of higher education. They also will participate in 2-day TLCs (Teaching Learning Collaborative) this academic year, lesson studies where NGSS-aligned lesson sequences are collaboratively planned, delivered, and evaluated for effectiveness. Consequently, Early Implementer teachers are developing a deeper understanding of how three-dimensional design, the 5E model of instruction, and phenomenon-based investigations align with how people learn. The NGSS makes sense to them, they are seeing how it makes better sense for students, and so it makes sense to make the leap.

Despite having no fully aligned NGSS curriculum or materials, Early Implementers are leading the transformation. They are implementing the NGSS in their classrooms armed with only their standards, the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a draft of the California science framework, and the unit conceptual flows and lessons they are collaboratively developing with their colleagues. It is the very action of going through this process that is helping our teachers better understand the NGSS and grow.

Our middle school Early Implementer teachers are taking on the additional challenge of integrating the science disciplines, which is the preferred model in California. Allison Bowcock, an 8th Grade Science Teacher and Early Implementation Teacher Leader at Roosevelt Middle School, is currently wrangling with all of this. I spent a couple of days with her recently so we can share with you the journey she is undergoing.

As it happened, Allison’s class was exploring claims about what caused a prehistoric extinction event. They were amidst a multi-day lesson sequence where evidence was being gathered to either support or refute competing claims related to this phenomenon. After analysis of their findings, students will be charged with constructing a written argument on the claim they have determined best explains the phenomenon.

Claims: 1) The influence of the variation on the Earth's orbit on climate is the cause of the extinction. 2) the influence of an asteroid on climate caused the extinction. 3) The influence of a super-volcano eruption on climate caused the extinction.

Students evaluate which of these claims best explains the extinction event.

On this day, in particular, the claim that an asteroid’s collision with Earth caused the event was being investigated by the students. The class opened with a lesson-level phenomenon, a spectacular video clip of a fiery meteor streaking across the Russian sky in 2013. Talk about engaging! Students shared questions and wonderings about the Russian meteor. In a clear attempt to integrate physical science into the discussion, Allison gave time for her students to consider what caused the meteor to hit the Earth. Then, it was time to observe the effects of meteor impact via simulation. Allison climbed a ladder and chucked objects into a small plastic pool full of sand.

 

Students had opportunities to be excited, ask questions, make observations, and make predictions, all the while recording in their sense-making notebooks. Allison then asked her students to consider how they could find evidence of meteor impact for a prehistoric extinction event. Following their discussion, Allison cued into an important question: could they compare the chemical composition of Earth’s crust with that of a meteor? Students shared their ideas in table groups, and the class consensus was to sample rock strata that would have been present on Earth’s surface at the time of the extinction event to see if elements of a meteor are present. Allison agreed with their logic and assured the class they would conduct that investigation the next day. Students left the classroom excited, already looking forward to what they would discover tomorrow.

When reflecting on the lesson, it exemplified the spirit of the NGSS in a number of ways:

  • It was phenomenon-based. The “big” phenomenon for the unit was the prehistoric extinction event; the “little” phenomenon for the day’s lesson was the 2013 Russian meteor impact. Both are engaging to students, promote wonder, and are something the students can build understanding of.
  • It was integrated. Force and motion of Physical Science meets the geology and climate studies of Earth and Space Science, which meets the biological evolution of Life Science (later in the unit).
  • It was three-dimensional. The Disciplinary Core Idea of “evidence for extinction” was explored using Science & Engineering Practices (Asking Questions, Modeling, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and Planning Investigations) while the Crosscutting Concept of Cause & Effect was used to help push student thinking.
  • It stemmed from a collaboratively-developed conceptual flow for an entire unit.
Conceptual flow developed by the Southern California 8th grade cadre for Summer Institute, year 2. Background image from Earnst Haeckel, Artforms in Nature, retrieved from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_nQaKjURiO_A/TO_QoTqrcpI/AAAAAAAAAXY/_vFWhhYuGfA/s1600/Haeckel_Thalamophora_81.jpg

Conceptual flow developed by the Southern California 8th grade cadre for Summer Institute, year 2. Background image from Earnst Haeckel, Artforms in Nature, retrieved from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_nQaKjURiO_A/TO_QoTqrcpI/AAAAAAAAAXY/_vFWhhYuGfA/s1600/Haeckel_Thalamophora_81.jpg

Talking with Allison, she is embracing the opportunity to innovate during this time of transition. She has particularly latched on to the idea of using anchor phenomena in her instruction. “It’s engaging, and it promotes the kind of thinking that real scientists do.” Allison is also seeing the benefits of bringing the engineering component of NGSS into science class. “Students are challenged to use a different part of their brain, and it’s not always the straight-’A’ students being successful. Engineering opens the door for more students to blossom.” She concedes that limited planning time and curriculum availability pose a formidable challenge to her NGSS implementation efforts. Creating integrated units of instruction, as opposed to teaching each science discipline in discrete “silos” is also a mindset to which she is adapting. But, she is taking the “leap of reason” nonetheless, and the lesson I observed is evidence that she, and her students, are going to land comfortably on two feet. The transformation is underway!

Jeff Schmitz is an NGSS TOSA in the Vista Unified School District, a member of the Core Leadership Team of the K-12 Alliance California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, and a member of CSTA.

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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.

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

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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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.