Claim, Evidence, & Reasoning (CER) Resources Part 1

supporting grade 5-8For the past several years I have been supporting pre-service and inservice teachers with the use of the Claim, Evidence and Reasoning (CER) framework for scaffolding students’ writing and talking about scientific explanations and arguments. This framework provides a common language for discussing the elements of powerful explanations and arguments. It isn’t a formula to memorize but a framework for support and improvement.

I have used the following books in professional development and also in college courses I’ve taught.  I highly recommend these:

whats your evidenceTogether these books provide a very clear and engaging look at how to use a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) framework to improve student writing and discourse in science. The CER framework can support not only science explanations but also the Common Core State Standards’ focus on using evidence and argumentation in math and English/Language Arts.

Over the years, I’ve developed some tools that could be useful for professional development providers, professional learning communities, and ultimately students who are engaging with a CER framework.

Resources:

1. An activity for writing a scientific explanation of whether soap and fat are the same substance. This is directly from the first book with some added reflective questions for teachers. This could be used as an initial activity with teachers before revealing the CER framework. CER writing an explanation fat and soap

2. A set of 3 Formative Assessment Probes (based on Page Keeley’s work) to uncover student ideas about science explanations- the probes include a DRAFT facilitation guide. Feel free to improve these:

3. A video “think sheet” for participants to track their thinking while watching the first video clip from the book where a teacher introduces the CER framework to a class of 7th graders- introducing CER framework vid 2.1 think sheet

Please let me know if you have any revisions/changes/improvements to any of these documents. Hope these are helpful… enjoy.

I’ll add a few other resources in an upcoming post. What CER resources have you found most useful in your own work with students?

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WA NGSS WCAS Test & Item Specs Released

Many of us science assessment nerds have been anxiously awaiting for the NGSS Test & Item Specifications for the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS). The anticipated arrival of these document reminds me of an iconic clip from Steve Martin’s movie The Jerk (see below).

These documents are organized into the following grade bands:

I’m assuming that these documents might be useful to science educators outside of Washington. You will see that there is support for each NGSS Performance Expectation from Grade 3 through High School and there are some pretty cool features such as:

  • information on items types and assessment design
  • a variety of 2 Dimensional versions of each PE
  • details and clarification that provide greater specificity to the original PE for not only assessment but also instruction

See the screen shot below for 5-PS1-1 to get a sense of some of the extra information provided by the item specs.

Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 5.18.25 PM

Video: Kilo Mode by Science with Tom feat. Acapella Science & Mike Likes Science

Today is the first day of school in my local school district so I thought we could kick off the year with an incredible science-themed song by Science with Tom and friends. I know many science teachers who like to get students thinking about measurements and units early in the year. Maybe this video could be helpful. By the way, if you’re not following Science with Tom you are definitely missing out on some fun science videos and songs. Enjoy!

So You’ve Been Hired as a Science TOSA | Part 1

This is the time of the year when a new group of science TOSAs (teachers on special assignment) tend to enter the realm of school district office science support. Now you may have a different term than TOSA in your neck of the woods- but basically this is a position where a classroom teacher continues to be paid a teacher salary (with perhaps a few extra hours thrown in) but does district office administrative level work to support science implementation.

Over the last 10 years I have worked with and supported many people in these Science TOSA positions and I’ve noticed that many school districts do not adequately support  those who take on these positions. The skillset of a successful classroom science teacher is often not the same skillset necessary to be a successful science education leader. I’ve also noticed that there are a huge variety of roles that these Science TOSAs might be expected to take on- here are a few that come to mind:

  • Science Curriculum and Assessment expert K-5, MS, HS or all 3
  • Mentor teacher
  • Instructional coach
  • Professional Development Designer and Provider
  • Meeting coordinator and facilitator
  • Science Materials Manager
  • Science Curriculum Review Committee Leader
  • and so much more

Some skills that Science TOSAs may need (that may differ from classroom teaching):

  • advocating for science instruction within your own district
  • working in uncertain and ever-changing environments
  • working with mostly adults (vs mostly kids)
  • navigating school district politics
  • managing a budget

While the following is not an exhaustive list- here are a few books that I highly recommend for the beginning Science TOSA. By the way- most of these are not science education specific. I’ll post a Part 2 in the future with some of my favorite science ed resources for new TOSAs.

Designing Professional Development for Teachers of Math and Science (3rd edition) This is an oldie but a goody- the framework for developing and planning PD is just as effective and useful today.

Leading Every Day: 124 Actions for Effective Leadership A set of short snippets that can be used personally or with small groups to focus on leadership.

Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools Another oldie- but this book provides an excellent framework for coaching and working with adults.

Choreography of Presenting A short and readable guide on effectively presenting to adults.

Evaluating Professional Development So you’re delivering PD…but how are you evaluating the effectiveness of that PD? This is the book to get you started.

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OpenSciEd Save the Date: Aug. 15, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 10.13.22 AMOpenSciEd just launched a new web presence and will be releasing the first set of FREE middle school science instructional materials designed specifically for NGSS and 3D instruction. The upcoming units are:

I’m excited for these resources to launch- stay tuned. Here is an e-announcement with more details.

Video: Travel Deep Inside a Leaf

Back in the day (or a couple of years ago) I used to post lots of cool science videos on this site. I got away from that in order to focus on more “important” science education resources. Well- I think it’s time to start sprinkling in some fun science videos again. So here we go. This is not a brand new video but it is cool. Here is Travel Deep Inside a Leaf courtesy of California Academy of Sciences. Feels like it could be useful for high school biology and thinking about Scale, Proportion, & Quantity.

Book Study: STEM Lesson Essentials

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 2.36.32 PMWell, it’s that time of year where the ongoing countdown of number of days to the end of the summer is reaching just a few weeks for most of us. As such, I’ll be posting some recommendations for last minute professional summer reading related to science education.

A great resource for digging into elementary STEM instruction is- STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8 by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, and Michael Comer. STEM Lesson Essentials is a timely, readable, and usable guide to STEM literacy that won’t weigh down your beach bag. (At 178 pages it is slim but packs a punch.) See some specifics below.

PROS:

  • The Front Matter (chapters 1-5) are essential reading for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of STEM literacy and what it means- Every K-8 principal should read this book by the way!
  • Contains authentic and engaging standards-based STEM activities that a teacher might use in a classroom or that a professional development provider might use in a workshop.
  • Chapter 8 provides a great framework for thinking about integration. I feel like we throw this word around in elementary education and we rarely define it or provide a continuum of what integration might look like.
  • Chapters are well-written, engaging, and short… perfect for summer reading.
  • Makes the case for technology and engineering as central aspects of STEM education.
  • Uses the STEM Practices as a central storyline (see p. 38).
  • Includes support on PBL, assessment, and STEM lesson resources.

CONS:

  • K-2 examples would be appreciated (as would High School)
  • Clearer connections on how to obtain some of the materials in sample lessons
  • Easy connection to some online supports- video, links, website, etc
  • Would be nice to have deeper and more intentional connections to NGSS (this book was published in 2013 which is part of the reason for this).

Click HERE to order a copy of STEM Lesson Essentials. I’d love to get some conversations going about this book- I know that several teachers have been digging into this resource over the years. What has been valuable? What have you implemented?

 

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