Primary Science, Common Core, and NGSS
Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
by Valerie Joyner and Michelle French
With special thanks to the Tulare County of Office of Education and the K-12 Alliance
Spring is here! And with it comes many opportunities for adding science and NGSS to your Common Core Curriculum! As flowers bloom, snails and spittle bugs emerge, and creeks flow, look around your school and home for science opportunities for your students to explore. It might take some digging or turning rocks over (don’t forget to put them back) and you have instant enthusiasm for a new primary science lesson! Remember, the focus for K-2 science is: choose ideas about phenomena that students can directly experience and investigate (adapted from A Framework for K-12 Science Education 2012).
To get started, look through your ELA and math CCSS to see what you still need to cover this year. It might be strengthening your students reading for understanding, engaging in argument, graphing, or descriptive writing. Then identify and highlight any standards or curriculum materials that could be taught through science. Look closely at the texts and/or trade books your students will be working with and determine what local flora or fauna you could use to integrate into your curriculum.
Let’s say for example your students will be reading “Earthworms Underground” by Kevin Beals, “An Earthworm’s Life”, by Himmelman, or “Diary of a Worm” by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss. This is the perfect time to allow students to make first hand observations and experiences that they can use to strengthen their reading, writing, listening, and oral language skills.
Material You Will Need:
- Collect or buy earthworms (available at your local bait shops) – 2-3 for each pair of students
- Small 3-4” containers – 1 for each pair of students
- Roll of paper towels
- Water to moisten towels and clean up
Before you begin an earthworm observation ask students to share with each other what they know and wonder about worms. You can use a sentence frame like: “I know that worms are/have _______________________________.” And “I wonder if worms are/have _______________.” Record ideas on chart paper.
Set-up: Place 2-3 worms in a small dish, one for each pair of students. Moisten paper towels for students to place on work areas for observing their worms. Have clean-up materials ready.
Part #1 – Observation
- Start the observation with a discussion about how to safely and responsibly handle earthworms.
- Explain to the students that they will be observing the structures and behaviors of earthworms. Instruct them to record 1-3 things they observe in their science notebook.
- Distribute worms and paper towels and allow time for students to observe and record (or dictate) their observations.
- Ask students to share their observations about the structures and behaviors of their worms. Compare their observations with the “I Know and I Wonder” chart. This is an excellent time to check for misconceptions and to allow students to increase their reading and oral vocabulary. Common Core!
Part #2 – Guided Reading
Using Text Features – identify the vocabulary words from the chart that are words in the Glossary, read the definitions of the words noted on the chart. Next ask students which words from our chart are missing from this glossary? Make notations on chart. Then ask students to think about this question: “If you were the author, what word(s) from the chart would you add to the Glossary? “I would add the word ___________________, because _____________.”
Reading for Understanding – Choral Reading, questions to ask during reading (depending on text).
- What structures do earthworms have that help it live underground?
- What is an adaptation that allows earthworms to survive?
- How do earthworms protect themselves from sunlight?
- What structures do other animals have that live underground?
Engaging in Argument – partners and then whole group
- Discuss with your partner how earthworms protect themselves. “Earthworms protect themselves by ____________________________.”
- Whole group – “From your observations and readings, what new information can we add to the chart?
- Draw a picture of a worm in its underground habitat. Include at least 1 predator that shares its habitat.
- Explain how the earthworm protects itself from these predators. Write in complete sentences.
- Have students share out their pictures and writing (dictation).
Observing – Have students observe other local animals and record their observations.
Comparing – Have students, work with partners to compare and contrast the structures and behaviors of the animals they have observed
Designing (NGSS) – Identify a problem a worm or other animal has, brainstorm possible solutions, make a plan with drawings and materials, create a model and test it, and then discuss what didn’t work and modify and improve your original design. Finally retest and modify.
National Research Council (NRC).2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Cross-Cutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press
NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
- Earthworms Underground, by Kevin Beals (2007) available through the Lawrence Hall of Science at the Discovery Corner Store or Seeds of Science Roots of Reading.
- An Earthworm’s Life, by Himmelman, (2001)
- Wiggling Worms at Work (Let’s-Read-and-Find-out Science 2) by Wendy Pfeffer and Steve Jenkins (2003)
- Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss (2003)
- Worms Eat our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better Environment, by Applehof and Harris, (1993)
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…