March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Back to School with NGSS

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Peter A’Hearn

Collecting data on mealworm habitat preference.

Collecting data on mealworm habitat preference.

This month the theme for California Classroom Science is  “Back to School.” But what about the standards you are teaching as you return to your classroom this fall?  We are still responsible for the 1998 California Science Standards, while we are also expected to start addressing the Common Core in English and Math and many of us are already anticipating the Next Generation Science Standards  (NGSS) and the changes in science learning that they will create.


 

Modeling erosion with a stream table.

Modeling erosion with a stream table.

Looking back at what I have written about the NGSS over the past year and a half, there are plenty of ways to start your school year with more NGSS in mind while still meeting the demands of the current standards and preparing kids for the CSTs (whichever ones may or may not be given). Here are some ideas to get you started:

Comparing the model to the real thing on a field trip.

Comparing the model to the real thing on a field trip.

    • Read the NGSS for your grade level and subject and the Framework for K-12 Science Education on which they are based. Understand how core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts are related.
    • Think carefully about which content you can cut so that you can provide more depth and focus on science practices while addressing the content that your students will be tested on.
    • Include career readiness in your units – who uses this science in the work place? Who needs to be able to use these science practices? Bring in guest speakers or Skype with them.
Engineering wind turbines.

Engineering wind turbines.

    • Use science fair as an opportunity to dive deep into the science practices and the Common Core. If you teach primary, consider doing a whole class project- there is lots of opportunity for reading expository text and writing based on evidence.
A proposed solution for a water filter.

A proposed solution for a water filter.

    • Look closely at the practices, especially those that are new compared to the current standards. Use multiple kinds of models to help understand concepts (physical, conceptual, scale, mathematical) and help your students be critical of their strengths and weaknesses. Compare your models to the real thing!
    • Engage in argument from evidence.  Read and write like a scientist and use multiple sources instead of just your text.
    • Get started with engineering where it connects to your content.
    • Start to think about which crosscutting concepts fit your unit best and about how to include them in your teaching. Go to http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/ for ideas.
  • Get outside and collect data!
Collecting insect population data with pit traps and transects.

Collecting insect population data with pit traps and transects.

Enjoy the new school year and the adventures in science it will bring!

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

One Response

  1. Great advice Pete!
    Thank you for including the links.

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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.

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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.