Planning Professional Learning Using the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model
Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
by John Spiegel, Anthony Quan, and Yamileth Shimojyo
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have the ability to transform teaching and learning in the classroom. They will dramatically change how students experience science by shifting the focus from the memorization of facts to greater student engagement in the processes of science. The NGSS emphasize learning in three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. In addition, there are seven Conceptual Shifts, or Innovations, that have strong implications for teaching and learning. These shifts include the interconnected nature of science as practiced in the real world, the integration of science and engineering, the use of performance expectations, a focus on deeper understanding of content as well as application of content, and alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will ultimately be tasked with implementing the NGSS, but cannot do so without extensive time to plan and engage in professional learning.
The California Department of Education is approaching the implementation of NGSS thoughtfully and is encouraging districts and teachers to do the same. They have drafted the Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California, which outlines a phased approach in preparing for and implementing the NGSS (see Figure 1). This plan stresses the importance of “high quality professional learning opportunities for educators to ensure that every student has access to teachers who are prepared to teach to the levels of rigor and depth required by the CA NGSS.”
Figure 1: Phases of NGSS Implementation
The draft Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California outlines the three phases of implementation as:
- The Awareness phase represents an introduction to the CA NGSS, the initial planning of systems implementation, and establishment of collaborations.
- The Transition phase is the concentration on building foundational resources, implementing needs assessments, establishing new professional learning opportunities, and expanding collaborations between all stakeholders.
- The Implementation phase expands the new professional learning support, fully aligns curriculum, instruction, and assessments, and effectively integrates these elements across the field.
This past summer, during a leadership meeting of the Southern California Association of Science Specialists (SCASS), we discussed the question, “What do all teachers need to know and be able to do to demonstrate they are prepared to implement the NGSS?” Finding varied responses among ourselves, we agreed to work collaboratively to develop a model that would attempt to answer this question as well as provide specific outcomes that could be used to design professional learning for teachers. This work has been summarized in The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model (see Figure 2), which identifies four stages: (1) Initial exposure to NGSS, (2) Deepening understanding of NGSS, (3) Planning instruction around NGSS, and (4) Full alignment of instruction to NGSS. These stages are related to the awareness, transition, and implementation phases outlined in the draft Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California.
Figure 2. The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model
The arrows in The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model represent a sequence of professional learning that teachers will need as they begin working with the NGSS. Of particular importance is the circular arrow between the stages of “Deepening Understanding of NGSS” and “Planning Instruction around NGSS”. These two stages are cyclical in nature. As teachers begin planning instruction aligned to the NGSS, time should be spent researching the Framework for K-12 Science Education or other resources to deepen their personal understanding of the Conceptual Shifts as they consider the classroom implications of these Innovations. For example, a teacher planning an instructional sequence around a performance expectation that requires students to develop a model (Science and Engineering Practice #2) might need to further their own understanding of what a model is and how to help students develop and use a model.
Figure 3. Stages in the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model
A description of the four stages of The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model are described in Figure 3 as well as possible outcomes for personal or collaborative professional learning. The outcomes focus on implications for teaching and learning as teachers explore the Conceptual Shifts (Innovations) and the three dimensions of the NGSS, and begin planning instruction around performance expectations.
To meet the outcomes identified in each stage of this model, teachers will need to dedicate significant effort towards their own professional learning. Schools and districts will also need to provide support and time for this learning to occur. It should be emphasized that all teachers in a school or district will not be at the same stage at any given time, thus there will be a need to differentiate professional learning for teachers in the coming months and years. In addition, the time needed to work through these stages should not be underestimated.
The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model is powerful in helping educators, administrators, and leaders of professional learning think about what teachers need to know and be able to do as they engage with the Next Generation Science Standards. We have found that this model has given us common language and outcomes as professional learning is developed. In addition, it has provided teachers with a tool to plan their own professional learning path. The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model is a valuable resource in support of the on-going work to move California closer in realizing the vision of NGSS for ALL students.
John Spiegel is the Science Coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sdngss.
Anthony Quan is the STEM Consultant at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook @Lacoe Stem, or on Twitter at @LacoeQuan.
Yamileth Shimojyo is the Science-STEM Coordinator at the Riverside County Office of Education. She can be reached at email@example.com.
 The proposal of this document can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/documents/implndrft072414wmrk.pdf. A final version of this document is on the agenda for approval by the State Board of Education in November 2014.
 Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California DRAFT, page 12.
 Adapted partially from the work of Harold Pratt in The NSTA Reader’s Guide to the Next Generation Science Standards. 2013.
 The Conceptual Shifts (Innovations) are found in Appendix A: Conceptual Shifts in the Next Generation Science Standards at www.nextgenscience.org.
 The Three Dimensions of Learning are found in Appendix E, F, and G at www.nextgenscience.org and Chapters 3-8 from The Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (NRC, 2012). can be found at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165.
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…