May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Teachers Discussing the Challenges of Implementing NGSS

Posted: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

The following is a conversation that took place between a group of science teachers on a patio on a warm Southern California night after a long day of science training. The topic of conversation was the challenges of implementing NGSS.

K. (2nd grade teacher): I am overwhelmed by the huge shift in instruction and the level of rigor that is being asked for. It’s overwhelming. When you think about time and what we have to doI do lots of rigor but when you think about other teachers who are on page 345 in their study book and how they are going to have to change.

P. (8th grade teacher): In order to have kids do what we just did (in the training) will need a huge shift in classroom culture. I heard this morning that it will take nine years to have kids prepared for NGSS.

K.: That’s the danger of the pendulum shift. We are giving more autonomy to kids– teachers have a hard time letting go. That is the big shift.

Mi. (1st grade teacher): If you have a teacher who can create great engagement then the kids will go with the shift.

P.: The key thing you said was that it depends on the teacher.

D. (4th grade teacher): It’s going to take a lot of support to get NGSS to look right and feel right.

J. (high school biology teacher): At my school when I talked about NGSS nobody got it–they have only heard of Common Core.

Ma. (7th grade teacher): If it doesn’t click fast they will get discouraged and give up fast–they need to see it.

D.: Initial success or total failure”–the motto of the Air Force explosive ordinance disposal team.

J.: It’s not that we don’t do parts of what NGSS does–we do PBL, we do projects–but we don’t do it continuously. It’s like it’s flipping–right now projects are interspersed in the teaching but now the projects drive the thing.

P.: I think it’s a big shift in classroom culture—real inquiry where they don’t get the answer at the end of the day—where they go home without the answer and where the answer comes from class consensus and not the teacher.

Mi.: The kind of writing that we worked on today for constructing explanations—that needs to be happen over and over again with kids to be successful and teachers are just used to doing it once or twice a year. That is a huge demand on time.

J.: At my school, students are uncomfortable without having a right answer–am I correct or am I wrong? But in NGSS they are supposed to be leading, they are not used to that.

Ma.: Kids are conditioned–they want to be told the answer.

P.: What I’m hearing is they don’t want to persevere.

J.: Perseverance is a big issue—I don’t know if it’s the culture of the classroom or the wider culture.

Ma.: The outside world is not going to go away.

P.: I worked with a class of emotionally disturbed kids at my school on science–which sounds challenging, but the group has established norms that actually let you talk about things in more depth than in other classes.

Mi.: If we think about the opportunities of the perfect storm of CCSS and NGSS, it’s the only time in my long career that ELA, Math, Science, and the coming Social Studies framework that they are all aligned and they dovetail. It’s an opportunity to seize that they are all connected in a way that helps people think differently about how they learn.

Message on a wine cork: “Over a bottle of Wine Many a Friend is Found”- Yiddish Proverb

Powered By DT Author Box

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.

3 Responses

  1. Thank you for this article. I believe it is a good representation of what everyone will be processing through. The one thing that I have learned from all of this is that the closer an instructor is to the scientist side of the spectrum, the easier it is to ‘quilt’ together ideas, lessons and units that are NGSS friendly.

    If it is helpful to anyone out there, I have been using the cloud and social media to create a bank of resources and ideas along with the opportunity to create conversation… If anyone out there want to join you can find the resources on Symbaloo by search for ‘Webmixes’ with NGSS and LCER . Another resource that has the advantage of sharing and conversation can be found on FB @ https://www.facebook.com/scienceatlcer

    Enjoy what remains of summer! Matthew

  2. PS… Another resource that some may find useful can be found @ http://www.lewiscenter.org/AAE/Departments/Science/Teaching-the-Next-Generations-Science/index.html

    All for the Cause, Cheers, Matt

  3. […] Implementing NGSS will undoubtedly challenge most schools and teachers in participating states on several fronts. Its emphasis on process-oriented tasks and dynamic, student-centered content will require large shifts in culture, and place heavy demands on time. Many students and teachers will be outside of their comfort zones; some teachers may not be comfortable covering engineering practices, while some kids are used to being given the right answer as opposed to an inquiry-based approach that encourages problem-solving and debate. Add to that the fact that girls, minorities and other underrepresented students are falling behind in STEM compared to well-funded school districts, and the need for schools to get all kids up to speed and prepared for the future job market becomes even more crucial and challenging. Recently, science teachers sounded off on just a few of these challenges (Teachers Discussing the Challenges of Implementing NGSS). […]

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.