Now Is the Time to Be Heard!
Posted: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
by Pete A’Hearn
We are about to begin the period for public review of the Next Generation Science Standards (release is anticipated on or around March 30). The process is guided by documents by the National Research Council. Twenty-six states including California have signed on to be part of the development of the standards and to adopt them when complete. The new standards will represent a big change in how science is taught in California, so teachers should be following the development closely and giving the feedback that comes with their experience. But few classroom teachers have time to digest and respond to the large amount of material that makes up the science standards. The purpose of this blog is to break it down into chunks and send it out a little at a time. I will start with the conceptual framework and then move on to the standards when they are available. I will be making comparisons to the current California standards, but science teachers from other states are encouraged to participate. The framework can be downloaded as a PDF from the National Academies Press website at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165.
The Big Picture- Three Dimensions
The Next Gen Framework’s most striking feature is also its overall vision of three equal aspects to science education. Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas are the three dimensions. The Next Gen logo reflects this trinity of ideas.
Here they are:
1. Scientific and Engineering Practices
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing
solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
2. Crosscutting Concepts
2. Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation
3. Scale, proportion, and quantity
4. Systems and system models
5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation
6. Structure and function
7. Stability and change
3. Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS 1: Matter and its interactions
PS 2: Motion and stability: Forces and interactions
PS 3: Energy
PS 4: Waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer
LS 1: From molecules to organisms: Structures and processes
LS 2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics
LS 3: Heredity: Inheritance and variation of traits
LS 4: Biological evolution: Unity and diversity
Earth and Space Sciences
ESS 1: Earths place in the universe
ESS 2: Earth’s systems
ESS 3: Earth and human activity
Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science
ETS 1: Engineering design
ETS 2: Links among engineering, technology, science, and society
These differ from the current CA standards in many significant ways. The biggest is the existence of Crosscutting Concepts, there is simply no analogue in the current standards. The concepts are necessarily there since they are fundamental ideas of science, but they are never explicitly mentioned or referenced. Another big change is the inclusion of engineering as one of the core disciplines in addition to life, physical, and earth sciences. There are from two to four core ideas identified in each discipline. This is intentional:
“The committee made this choice in order to avoid shallow coverage of a large number of topics and to allow more time for teachers and students to explore each idea in greater depth. Reduction of the sheer sum of details to be mastered is intended to give time for students to engage in scientific investigations and argumentation and to achieve depth of understanding of the core ideas presented.”
Scientific and Engineering Practices are similar to what are now called Investigation and Experimentation standards in California, but include some that go beyond what the CA standards now ask students to do. In the new framework, students are expected to develop and evaluate scientific models, construct explanations, and engage in arguments from evidence. The idea that these practices are co-equal with the disciplinary core ideas also represents a big change. Currently in California the Investigation and Experimentation standards count for only 10 % of CST tests and are found at the back of the standards. The authors of the new framework seek a stronger link between the two aspects of science , “… the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 science education.”
Chapter 9 of the framework provides some tables to show how these three dimensions can be integrated. It gives examples at different grade levels of a core idea, a crosscutting concept that links strongly to that core idea, the scientific and engineering practices that students will use to access and process that core idea, and examples of what students will produce to demonstrate their learning.
So what do you think so far? Some questions to consider:
What are the biggest challenges of implementing this framework for teachers? Students? Schools and districts? Families and communities?
Does this vision help support the kind of learning that our students need for the future? Is this the science framework that you would want your own children to have? (I have two young children- this will be their framework).
Does the inclusion of scientific application (engineering) strengthen or weaken student’s learning of science?
Pete A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is region 4 director for CSTA.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…