January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

NGSS: Will There Be More or Less to Cover?

Posted: Sunday, July 1st, 2012

by Peter A’Hearn

The first period of public review for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is completed and I hope that many of you took the time to review the units that you are most familiar with. NSTA has posted an official response which in my opinion makes several good points and notes some key concerns.

Yesterday I went to a meeting on the common core standards for literacy in science and technical subjects and noted some important parallels with the NGSS and some common concerns.  Unlike the NGSS, which are still in the middle of their revision process and may or may not eventually become adopted by California, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a done deal. Testing on these standards, written for math and Language Arts, begins in 2015. What will happen to testing in science and social studies at that time is an open question and one that is currently being discussed by the AB 250 work group. (They are currently seeking public comment, click here for more information.) 

So what is in the CCSS for science teachers? On the math side there is a huge new emphasis on application, which could mean science and engineering if that is the way the testing and curriculum development go.

On the English/Language Arts side, there is a much greater emphasis on reading informational text. This should be 50% in elementary, 55% in middle school, and 70% in high school. Compare this to current curriculum, which is heavily focused on stories and literature. So this means that especially in elementary, there may be much more reading of science in ELA classes. The danger of this is that folks think reading about science is a replacement for doing science and this actually leads to less real science in elementary. Also we can hope that the testing and curricula for elementary ELA line up with science and other subjects- this would mean that the selected passages for reading and tests would actually be about grade level science subjects (or history, or art) instead of just random as it is now.

On the writing side, there is also a much greater emphasis on writing to explain and writing to persuade.  This parallels two of the science practices emphasized in the NGSS: engaging in argument from evidence and constructing explanations. These changes offer both an opportunity and a possible pitfall: the opportunity to get more time and respect for the types of literacy used in science, the pitfall is that science will be seen as a support for ELA and not an important subject in its own right (sound familiar?). An emphasis on reading and writing in science is a good thing, but not if it actually pushes out doing science. It occurred to me at the meeting that if the CCSS increase the amount of time spent reading and writing about science, and the NGSS increase the amount of time spent doing science, then the thing that will have to give is lecture and notes-this will have to be an increasingly small part of what happens in science classes, and I have to think that’s a positive step.

For all of this to happen, there is broad agreement that breadth of coverage of standards will have to be greatly reduced. This is in fact one of the charges given to the committee writing the NGSS-to cover fewer topics in greater depth (a colleague of mine recently pointed out that to “cover” means to hide or obscure).  So my question this month is, “did they do it?” When you look at your subject or grade level in the NGSS is there less there to cover? Will you have time to go into depth and engage in experimentation and argument and constructing explanations? Or did the committee do what committees naturally do and give everyone their pet subject and thus bloat the standards? My reading suggests that in some subjects and grade levels the standards writers showed great restraint and in others they failed. I’d love to hear your impressions.

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District, Co-Chair of the 2013 Conference Committee, and a member of CSTA.

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

One Response

  1. I share your concern over the risk that the CCSS may result in science resources being cut back to just a textbook used for “applied math” and “applled reading”.

    I can support the emphasis on reading and writing science in elementary school, if the emphasis results in students prepared for a “flipped” or “inverted” classroom environment during middle school.

    As I understand a “flipped” class: expository reading and writing homework can go “beyond the book” by using online resources and collaboration tools to engage students at the highest levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students who do homework are prepared to question the teacher and receive differentiated instruction while they complete the homework before proceeding to do experiments and activities, analyze data, and discuss their conclusions. Grade-level teacher teams working collaboratively can build a common core of homework lessons and checks for understanding that support the creativity of each individual teacher’s style of classroom instruction and interaction. In practice, this results in very individualized instruction, so the teacher’s challenging work becomes pacing a large and heterogeneous group of students through the curriculum in time for state testing.

    So, I strongly support reducing the breadth and scope of the NGSS for each grade level within every grade span.

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LATEST POST

California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

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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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.

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.