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: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…