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Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

I've had a few blog readers ask if I had any resources or ideas for implementing the new science standards (Next Generation Science Standards; NGSS).  I must be honest and admit that I am not as well-versed in the new standards as I need to be, but maybe this can be more of an opportunity for teachers to share ideas and resources (and save us all a bunch of time in the process).  So, here goes....  

First of all, the NGSS are student performance expectations, NOT curriculum.  These expectations build upon each other as students progress through the grade levels; a progression of knowledge.  There are specific performance expectations that students should reach by the end of certain points in their educational career (ex: students should know ___ by the end of 5th grade/8th grade, etc...)  What this means for the science educator is that we are responsible for ensuring that our students acquire the knowledge by the end of the grade band as laid out in the standards.  Failure to do this will leave our students with gaps in knowledge and will negatively impact student success.  Not to mention, you will be leaving additional burden on their teachers later in the process.  Essentially, you need to "stay in your lane" and only teach what is expected - nothing more, nothing less.  Don't teach more of a certain topic because you love it and less of another because you find it boring.  As educators, it is our job to find ways to make all material and content accessible, engaging and interesting to our students.  It isn't always easy and we sometimes have to fake it till we make it, but that's all in a days work for us.

The National Research Council describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science. They have provided some clarification of what is is meant by scientific "inquiry" to include more of the design process that engineers use to solve problems in the engineering field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).  

There are many concepts that have application across all domains of science.  These are called the "crosscutting concepts".  They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change.  These concepts need to be clearly identified for students because they will help the student create an organizational representation for connecting knowledge from different science domains into a clear, scientifically-based view of the world around them.   Curriculum, instruction and assessments should be focused around the core ideas in science.  In order for ideas to be considered "core", they should be meeting, at minimum, 2 of the following criteria:

  • Have broad importance across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline; 

  • Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;

  • Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;

  • Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication

  • The core ideas are grouped into 4 domains:  life science, earth and space science, physical science, and engineering, technology and application of science.  

    Recently, NSTA released a free e-book titled "NSTA Reader's Guide to the Framework for K-12 Science Education".  CLICK HERE to download the e-book.This reader’s guide provides an overview of the projected Framework document, comparisons to former science standards and benchmarks, and suggested actions for any person involved with teaching science to K–12 students.

    According to the author, Harold Pratt, “to make best use of this guide, the reader should have a copy of the Framework in hand for reference." The Framework, and many other NRC reports noted in this document, can be downloaded free of charge from the National Academies Press at  The reader’s guide does exactly what the title implies: it is a guide for all science educators so that they can be aware of and ready to utilize the upcoming science standards in their teaching and their students’ science learning. While visiting the NSTA web site I located this information, “Now—as a bonus—the volume also includes four essays by key leaders in science education, each explains the Framework further. Rodger Bybee discusses scientific and engineering practices; Cary Sneider, engineering and technology core ideas; Richard Duschl, crosscutting concepts; and Joseph Krajcik and Joi Merritt, constructing and revising models.” 

    In an article written by Debra Shapiro, published November 11, 2011:
    Stephen PruittStephen Pruitt, vice president for content, research, and development for Achieve, Inc., gave teachers an engaging preview of the Next Generation Science Standards during his talk this afternoon. “We have incredible teachers in this country…that’s the reason [the NGSS] will go forward,” he maintains. He also emphasized that the NGSS are “for all students” because all students are “born investigators,” and noted that some Nobel prize winners are working on the committee to develop the new standards.The new standards will emphasize that understanding builds over time, and they “don’t stop at just memorizing details,” but will require students to understand “the evidence of how something works,” such as cell division. He referred to the NGSS as “inquiry unpacked,” a term he said he’s not crazy about but admits is important because not all educators have a cohesive understanding of what inquiry is.The NGSS will reflect that “math is part of the language of science” and will indicate to teachers ”here’s where math is appropriate,” Pruitt explained. Cross-cutting concepts are key in the NGSS because “shouldn’t energy be the same regardless of which class you’re sitting in?”

    CLICK HERE for a collection of videos to help you better understand the Next Generation Science Standards.  The videos are organized into three main areas: Scientific & Engineering PracticesCross Cutting Ideas, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.

    So what can you do to get some advance preparation?  

    • First, get familiar with the NGSS.  
    • Next, download the Reader's Guide and keep it handy when looking over the standards.  
    • Join up with NGSS@NSTA on Facebook by clicking HERE.
    • Follow the NSTA blog to stay up-to-date on what's happening by clicking HERE.

    I know things are incredibly busy right now and teachers are scrambling to gather resources for their classrooms and to meet Common Core/State Standards, but I am hopeful that educators will begin creating resources that align with the NGSS specifically.  

    If you know of some resources, please comment below and contribute to this ongoing collaboration.

    Interactive Science Notebook Freebie

    Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

    I've recently added a FREEBIE on my Teachers Pay Teachers site that I wanted to share with the blogging world.  It's 5 Interactive Science Notebook Table of Contents pages to use this upcoming school year in your students' notebooks.  Last year 4 TOC pages just wasn't enough for my classes (we ran out of room in our notebooks), so this year we are moving to a 3-subject spiral (college ruled), which I think will do the trick and 5 TOC pages.  These TOC pages go all the way to page 169.  If you find that you need even more, just send me an email and I will create more!

    Thanks for visiting my site!  CLICK HERE for the freebie.

    Teaching Tip:  I recommend that you (the teacher) run these TOC pages through a poster maker that increases the size of the image.  Laminate and post the Table of Contents page somewhere in your classroom and keep a MASTER TOC for the students to refer to, in case they ever get behind or confused.  Everyone in the class should have identical Science Notebooks (as far as what content is on which page).

    Common Core State Standards FREE ebook Resource for Back To School and the Vacay Drama

    Ok...well the vacation didn't turn out as I had hoped.  In the middle of the night (on the first night of our week long cruise), my 8 year old woke up very sick.  (I'll spare you the details.)  The next night, my 4 year old was sick too.  My hubby and I were able to keep our illness "in check", but we weren't feeling too hot either.  Not sure if it was some sort of stomach bug or sea sickness, but by days 3 and 4, things started looking up.  We spent A LOT of time in our stateroom....luckily, there was a balcony.

    Key West and Atlantis (Nassau, Bahamas) were our favorite stops.  In Key West, we visited the Butterfly Conservatory and Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum (yes my children are goobers!)
    At Atlantis, we rode water rides, visited all of the aquariums, hung out on the beautiful beach and got gorgeous tans!  :)

    Now...onto the fun stuff!
    I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was working on a Common Core ebook contribution.  Well, it has finally been released and is full of goodies for all grade levels and subject areas.  For many teachers heading back to school this year, implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be a top priority.  Many Teachers Pay Teachers sellers (including myself) have contributed to a collaborative ebook: "A Bundle of Tips and Common Core State Standards Resources from TPT Authors."  

    This ebook series covers grades K-12, content areas such as ELA, math, science, and social studies, and offers free downloads and related CCSS-aligned materials for sale.    

    CLICK HERE to be taken directly to the free download on Teachers Pay Teachers.  

    Exit Ticket FREEBIE

    In preparation for the upcoming CCSS Resources ebook that will be on Teachers Pay Teachers for a Back to School Week special, I have created an Exit Ticket FREEBIE: Masses of Gases.  Click on the image above and head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to download it for free, along with some tips and tricks and a teacher's explanation.

    In other news, I have been doing a lot of traveling and the madness isn't over yet.  We headed down to the Texas coast to celebrate July 4th with family.  (Please excuse the crazy 4 year old is the posing QUEEN, so we often join in on the fun just to make her look less ridiculous.)

    We were fortunate enough to have a view of the bay all day long.  Being the nerdy scientists that we are, we had to investigate a few of the jellyfish that were floating EVERYWHERE on the edge of the beach.  With the help of a few sticks and boards, we brought them to shore and carefully checked them out.  (Note: only 2 jellyfish were harmed in this investigation.)   

    And the Fourth of July just wouldn't be complete without fireworks.  Across the bay we could see 3 different firework displays...AWESOME.  Here is a pic of the science behind firework colors.  My personal favorites are the big, shimmery white ones.  

    Very soon, I will no longer be on land.  This will be my 4th cruise, but the 1st cruise for my daughters.  I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they see how big these ships really are.  I truly don't think they realize.  For someone who loves to travel, see new places and try new things, but absolutely HATES driving, this is the best way to travel.  (In case you didn't get that, I was describing myself.)

    So, I may be "off the grid" for awhile, but as soon as I get back, I will share some pics and adventures we had.  

    Hope you are all having a relaxing summer.  I am already starting to think about next summer's vacay...any ideas?