March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

NGSS Implementation Rollout – Seeking Teams of Teacher Leaders and Administrators

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Laura Henriques
Updated May 14, 2014

This month’s issue of CCS focuses on biology and chemistry. Articles in this issue highlight some of the challenges around teaching these topics as we move towards Common Core and NGSS implementation. Jeanine Wulfenstein points out that the ideas are often abstract and difficult for students to grasp. These topics include a large number of vocabulary words that can get in the way of understanding, especially for English learners and students with special needs. Barbara Woods points out how discrepant events can be used to motivate and engage students by including the wow factor.  Both articles provide us with teaching strategies that engage and support students while incorporating aspects of NGSS and Common Core.

I do not think any of us could teach chemistry (or other abstract topics) without using models (one of the NGSS science and engineering practices). A discrepant event or surprising moment causes us to ask questions (another of the science and engineering practices). These questions are followed by investigations, tentative explanations and more investigations as students and teachers try to make sense of natural phenomena (even more science and engineering practices!). This approach puts the student-developed models to the test. Adjustments need to be made and the model gets refined. As they explain relationships, cause and effect, and try to make sense of the science they are seeing, they are meeting Common Core standards and science standards.

As Jeanine points out, professional learning communities, or communities of practice, allow us as teachers to go through a similar iterative process around our thinking about teaching and learning, NGSS implementation and meeting the needs of all our students. Just as student ideas about scientific phenomena are challenged and revised, our ideas about what science instruction looks like will be challenged and revised as we work together to implement NGSS. Changing our practice is non-trivial, but going through the process with colleagues helps. Not only do we get feedback on our ideas, we will have more ideas generated and the resulting final product will be stronger for the collaborative effort.

As you begin to make changes to your instruction I hope you will be living out the science and engineering practices. Ideally, you will make some adjustments to how you teach and then make observations and collect data related to those changes. Based on the results you will make further changes, analyze how they worked, etc. By scientifically approaching the changes you make to your practice you are modeling how science is done, you are being thoughtful about your practice and you are working collaboratively within the community of scientists. It is a process and requires new ways of thinking about teaching. Doing it with colleagues (your lab partners!) can ease the uncertainty.

California’s science education leaders from the California Department of Education, K12 Alliance, the California Science Project, county office of education science leaders (Curriculum & Instruction Steering Committee), and CSTA have planned some two-day NGSS workshops for school and district leaders this spring and fall. The agenda for these two-day events was jointly developed by five groups listed above. Just as discrepant events challenge student thinking and force kids to consider alternate explanations, the new standards are forcing all of us to rethink how we teach science.

To help California move towards embracing and implementing NGSS, two-day workshops will be offered throughout the state. These are designed for teams of teacher-leaders and administrators (ideally 5- 7 from the same district). The teams are encouraged to attend together to take advantage of the benefits which accrue from working with a small learning community. There are three workshops this spring and more scheduled for fall. We encourage you and other teacher leaders in your district to participate in these workshops so you can begin rethinking your science instruction in light of NGSS.

Visit the NGSS Rollout website about the events, agenda and registration information for the spring dates. (http://www.iplanevents.com/ngssrollout)

Spring 2014 dates: (Registration now open for these three spring events)

April 28-29 at San Joaquin County Office of Education

May 22-23 at Long Beach Hilton Hotel

May 27-28 at Crafton College Yucaipa

Fall 2014 dates (more may be added):
October 13-14, 2014, Fresno

San Diego, CA October 16–17, 2014 The San Diego meeting will be rescheduled for September to correspond with the STEM Symposium.

Oakland, CA October 20–21, 2014 The Oakland Event is being rescheduled.

October 23-24, 2014, Red Bluff

NGSSRollOutSessions

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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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.