This video by Mark Rober (Check out some of Mark’s other science videos) is nicely done and could be pushed out to students as part of some online science learning. There are lots of Science & Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts at work here too if you wanted to get all NGSS nerdy with it.
Mark is also livestreaming a Science Class on his YouTube channel at 1pm PST Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. His first was today. He’s also posting the videos so you don’t have to catch the livestream.
Our friends at STEM Teaching Tools have organized some resources from Council of School Science Supervisors (CSSS) to support families with science learning while practicing social distancing at home. Some of these could be great for use in school districts as reminders of best practices and others contain ready-made resources that are available in English, Spanish and Arabic.
The Sample Learning Menu is a particular favorite.
Click HERE to get to these thoughtfully designed resources.
Science in the City: Culturally Relevant STEM Education by Bryan A. Brown of Stanford University is a true gift to the science education community. I’ve been using a YouTube video of Dr. Brown discussing science, language and identity for several years in workshops and with my pre-service science teachers (see embedded video below). Dr. Brown has taken the ideas in the short video and built them into an engaging, readable and important book.
Science in the City is an easy read largely due to Dr. Brown’s writing style and his use of story to couch the ideas that he’s presenting to us- he’s also modeling for us what he wants us to do with students! The stories are everyday events that illustrate language, identity, and race. One of my favorites is from early in the book when Dr. Brown reminds us of a post-game interview that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston gave on TV in 2014 following a victory in the national championship game. After the interview Mr. Winston’s interview was met on social media with a barrage of criticism including a tweet saying, “Am I listening to English?” This criticism was countered by tweets from Lebron James and Reggie Bush praising Mr. Winston’s leadership, interview skill, and talk. Dr. Brown puts this in front of us to make the point that schools tend to value “academic English” and that many folks working in educational systems have a bias for (and against) certain types of talk. We are often missing out on the brilliance of students of color based on these biases.
If you have done any work on student discourse in science this book will resonate with you and likely push you to think deeper about how to interrogate educational systems for more culturally relevant language practices in science classrooms.
Here is a quote from the book that illustrates what Science in the City is all about:
If there is a single message that serves as the foundation for this book it is the idea that there is no cultural distance between students of color and a successful science education.
The final chapter of the book does a clear and concise job of presenting a small but powerful set of instructional practices to implement in science classrooms:
- Disaggregate Instruction
- Generative Formative Assessment
- Culturally Based Cognitive Apprenticeship Instruction
- Technology as a Cultural Mediator
I highly recommend adding Science in the City to your set of science education resources. I’d also love to hear from anyone else who has been digging into this book.
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My colleague, Tom Hathorn, and I are facilitating a workshop series on Climate Science for High School Science Teachers in the Puget Sound Region of Washington State. The series starts October 23rd and we still have a few seats left- so register soon at the link below if you’re interested in joining us.
Who: HS Science teachers in King & Pierce Counties
Where: Sumner School District Office (1202 Wood Ave, Sumner, WA 98390)
When: Face to Face- Oct. 23, Jan. 15, Mar. 24 (8am-3pm)
When: Online- Nov. 20, Dec. 11, Feb. 12, Mar. 4 (4-5:30pm)
What you get: Learning, collaboration, sub coverage, STEM clock hours, Stipend pay for after-school online meetings
- Inspire all students to participate in understanding and challenging climate science problems, especially mitigating environmental injustice where they live.
- Use student voice tools as inputs for shaping climate science learning and developing student leadership.
- Join a regional group of high school teachers who are knowledgeable about using the NGSS innovations to integrate Climate Science (ESS2 & ESS3) with other sciences.
- Develop Climate Science curriculum objects (learning/assessment tasks, lesson activities, activity sequences) to use in HS science courses.
- Participate in a public Climate Forum, sharing student and teacher projects.
Click HERE for the flyer with more information
The state of Nebraska is on a journey to develop a comprehensive state science assessment system that not only includes a state-wide summative assessment system (grades 5, 8, & 11) for science but also:
- Curriculum Embedded Science Tasks (K-12)
- Science Task Library (K-12)
- Monitoring Tasks (Grades 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10)
If you’d like to know more about this work, check out the overview from Achieve HERE.
Achieve just released A Framework to Evaluate Cognitive Complexity in Science Assessments. This short document features a rubric for rating scenarios and the 3 Dimensions in assessment items and item sets. The focus is on cognitive complexity that supports students sense-making during the assessment.
Below is a table showing the “3000 ft” view of the rubric. A more detailed version of the tool is also available.
Here are the 3 principles of this framework:
- Each item receives separate judgments for each of the four indicators.
- No value judgments are attached to complexity levels.
- Designed based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education, the framework is designed to work flexibly with all new three-dimensional science standards.
I know that several school districts, schools and teachers are working on designing, adapting or simply shopping for quality science assessment items. This looks like another tool to support your work. Enjoy.
File this one under “fun” but I’m sure most science educators can find several uses for this book with students. I have owned Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Monroe (Creator of xkcd) for a couple of years. I keep it in my office and every so often I find myself opening it up and spending several minutes examining the brilliant labeled diagrams (they are amazing detailed systems models) that show how common and important living and designed systems work.
Mr. Monroe committed to using only the “ten hundred” most common words. This constraint creates a beautiful simplicity that gets to the essence of these systems. As science teachers we can learn a lesson from this. Too often we value vocabulary words as evidence of student understanding. Perhaps we should push more for simplified explanations that use everyday language.
I think that any human being will find this book to be interesting and any scientist, engineer, or STEM educator will also find it to be inspiring and valuable. There is something about the clearly illustrated systems models that mesh perfectly with the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards. This book also makes a wonderful gift.
LINK: Thing Explainer
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