January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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

1.      Patterns

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

Physical Sciences

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

Life Sciences

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.

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

9 Responses

  1. Nicely done Pete.

  2. eagerly anticipating learning more

  3. Congratulations on this great work that you have done. It is surely high time we changed the way science is taught.

    However, I have an observation and comment about the framework which is:

    I do not quite understand why this framework is separating science from engineering. Engineering is an application of science so it should be subsumed within sciences and not seen as separate entities. For example, Asking questions and Defining problems are things that scientists do generally. So are constructing explanations and designing
    solutions. There is absolutely no need to separate these science inquiry process into science and engineering pursuits. Doing this is bound to confuse teachers.

    Irene Osisioma
    CSUDH

  4. I just heard a heated argument by an engineer at the Suborbital Research Conference this week to the effect that engineering and science are NOT the same. So I’m passing that on.

    The framework looks great. But the Devil in in the Details when it comes to implementation. Since I began teaching K-8 in 1971, California has regularly inflicted my colleagues and me with mandates to teach subject about which we know zilch. For me, it included music, statistics, and chemistry. For many teachers, it means science.

    For some reason, California seems to think that if you mandate it, everyone can teach it — no need to check teachers’ content knowledge — despite the fact that elementary credential holders are ELD and math specialists.

    Since I now do teacher training in space sciences, I’ve checked for content knowledge and can assure you that many fifth grade teachers don’t know what an astronomical unit is or how to distinguish between a solar system and a galaxy — even though these items are on California’s 8th grade standards, and these teachers potentially could find themselves in a self-contained 8th grade classroom some day.

    When I warn these teachers that they soon will be expected to teach engineering, too, they react with shock and disbelief.

    If you want a successful implementation, you need to do two things:

    1. Get rid of textbooks. They would be used by teachers as crutches to mask their ignorance.They also successfully kill interest in science by the end of high school.

    2. Make sure that extensive in-service training in content and inquiry methodologies is implemented the year BEFORE the standards are rolled out. If there’s no money for this training, then delay the standards implementation until money becomes available. Or, how about this? Use that textbook money to buy the very best teacher training there is.

  5. On behalf of CSTA, I have attended several meetings about the Conceptual Framework and the NGSS, both in California and with science implementors from 41 other states. From those meetings, several things that you mention are crystal clear. First, the addition of Engineering in the NGSS is a significant change. The authors of the Conceptual Framework acknowledge this and the need for professional development to enable a successful implementation. Yes, many of the things that engineers do are similar to what scientists do. The important thing is that the NGSS call for us to actually do some of those things with our students. The second thing is that the preparation of new teachers will have to change as well. If you consider that the existing Standards have been in place for at least the last 10 years, it will be important to start preparing teachers now to implement the NGSS when finally adopted, be it 2013 or later. Finally, many teachers will feel challenged by the NGSS, but that is no reason to accept the status quo. Just as any new endeavor requires buy in, training, and collaboration, so will the implementation of any new standards. These can be potentially exciting times if we realize that the NGSS describe the kind of science teaching that we have argued is missing in the current Standards. It will not necessarily be easy but nothing of real value ever is.

    One thing to keep in mind is that SB 300, the legislation authorizing new standards for California says that the Superintendent of Public Instruction must propose, by March 30, 2013, new science standards based on the NGSS, for California. The standards proposed may not be exactly like the NGSS but at least they are to be based on the same ideas and foundational concepts. The State Board of Education has until July 30, 2013 to adopt, reject, or adopt with modifications new standards for California. For this reason, it is eminently important that as many people participate in the public reviews of the NGSS when they are released on March 30, 2012. The more people participate in the review the more that the NGSS will be what California stakeholders want in new standards.

  6. Thanks to all for this conversation. I truly hope – ask – that it will be replicated in every hallway at every school in CA. Please keep spreading the word so the public comment can be effective in guiding policy in CA.

    Having followed this work for more than a year now via the website, webinars, etc. I can confirm what Rick addresses – the idea here is not to just deliver content, but to DO the science by applying process skills, engineering and cross-cutting concepts. This quote featured above by Pete is really important – for us and students.

    “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.”

    We often express frustration at our curriculum being a mile wide and inch deep – here is our chance to address that and make a change.

    Many thanks Pete!

    Marian
    Siskiyou COE
    Region 2 Science Lead
    CSTA Secretary

  7. I’m excited about the new three-dimensional “Big Picture”. I’d like to begin implementing it right now! I think it fits the way I want to teach and manage my classroom instruction, and I think it would make science more “real” for the students, rather than ramming a bunch of facts “into their brains” for purposes of scoring well on a test. The details, of course, remain to be seen, but this seems like a positive step in the right direction.

  8. The pendulum swings back and forth between detail and process. For now it would seem the pendulum is moving toward process.

    I am excited by the possibilities before us and the way we teach. I just hope that teachers start conversations now and start development now that will lead to a whole new way to teach our students. Many of the educational models we still use today have been in place for decades. With the current pace of technology, now is the time for us to look at new ways to learn and teach.

  9. I appreciate Susan Morrison’s concerns about implementation and what we are asking teachers to be prepared for. I agree that strong professional development will be needed. I disagree in that I think most teachers will need strong curriculum to guide them in implementation. Creating units that strongly connect scientific practices, core concepts, and crosscutting concepts will be daunting for most teachers. There are some very knowledgeable and creative teachers who are chomping at the bit to do this, but most teachers, especially those teaching science without a strong science background will need to have well designed materials to achieve the vision of the NGSS.

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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…

Written by Guest Contributor

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.