Fostering Change: Ideas and Best Practices for Diversity in STEM Teaching in K-12 Classrooms

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.55.25 PMOVERVIEW: The Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Shell Oil Company have collaborated to compose a document titled- Fostering Change: Ideas and Best Practices for Diversity in STEM Teaching in K-12 Classrooms. This playbook provides support in trying to diversify the STEM teaching ranks.

PURPOSE: Here is some wording directly from the playbook that describes the purpose of the document.

The nation faces challenges to achieve excellence in its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce; and, the importance of fostering diversity in STEM teaching is fundamental to this success. Several theories support the importance of having educators in the classroom who reflect the background and experiences of the students in their schools. Across the nation, there are programs that aim to increase the number of STEM teachers or programs to increase the number of teachers from diverse communities at large, but very few programs aim to do both at the same time. In 2015, an effort was launched by Shell and the Smithsonian Science Education Center to bring together individuals and organizations with the unique ability to foster change through a series of activities designed to assist school districts in implementing systemic reform to increase diversity in their STEM teaching community.

Together, these experts identified several opportunities that can impact a school district’s path toward increasing the diversity of STEM teachers in the classroom, while preparing these same STEM teachers for science leadership opportunities. One identified need was a playbook of recommended discussions, practices, and tools that a school district could use to foster change. This playbook will provide school district decision makers and change makers with a starting point to begin their efforts. The playbook is designed to be responsive to district needs and will be revised as we collect feedback from school districts and individuals who offer best practices for success.

I recommend skimming the Table of Contents to get a clear overview of the playbook.

This is a thoughtfully designed resource to add to your toolbox of equity-focused science resources.

AUDIENCE: school district leaders, human resource departments, college of education administrators and recruiters, supporters of equity and diversity in STEM teaching and learning


Next Generation Climate: Middle School NGSS Unit

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 2.11.40 PMOVERVIEW: Climate Generation has a variety of climate resources for teachers including a middle school NGSS climate unit titled Next Generation Climate. The unit is FREE via a simple registration process and includes several graphs for students to use in examining and evaluating evidence of a changing climate. The unit contains 6 lessons each built around a question such as:

Lesson 1: What evidence is there to show there is a rise in global temperatures?

Lesson 2: What factors have caused the rise in global temperature over the last century?

PURPOSE: Next Generation Climate provides a resource that some middle school teachers and systems might find helpful.

AUDIENCE: middle school science teachers, curriculum directors, professional development providers, administrators, pre-service teachers, etc


Developing District Plans for NGSS Implementation: Preventing Detours and Finding Express Lanes on the Journey to Implement the New Science Standards

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 2.31.26 PMOVERVIEW: WestEd recently published a free report titled- Developing District Plans for NGSS Implementation: Preventing Detours and Finding Express Lanes on the Journey to Implement the New Science StandardsThis report describes how the NGSS Early Implementers project in eight California school districts has supported thoughtful NGSS implementation. The report shares lessons learned and also provides appendices with samples of district NGSS implementation plans. The report also provides tools, processes and recommendations for developing NGSS implementation plans.


PURPOSE: Provide tools, resources, support and stories of authentic NGSS implementation.

AUDIENCE: School District leaders, consultants, teacher leaders, etc


Disruptions in Ecosystems Middle School NGSS Unit

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 1.45.15 PMOVERVIEW: We are at an exciting spot in the implementation of NGSS where we are seeing some high-quality three dimensional instructional materials being released. The American Museum of Natural History (and other partners) has developed a unit titled Disruptions in Ecosystems that provides five chapters to immerse students into understanding life science and human activity MS performance expectations in NGSS. Each chapter provides a phenomenon for students to investigate.

PURPOSE: This unit obviously has potential as being helpful for any middle school science teacher/system that is looking for a well-designed NGSS ecosystems unit. However, this unit also provides a model for what good NGSS instructional materials might look like.

AUDIENCE: middle school teachers, science PD providers, curriculum directors, curriculum writers, etc

LINK: Here is the link on the NGSS site where you can get Disruptions in Ecosystems as a zip file and also see how this unit rated on the EQuIP Rubric.

Here is a video on Teaching Channel where you can see students engaging in constructing arguments using this unit.


Michigan Sample Science Assessment Items

Are you looking for more samples of 2 Dimensional and 3 Dimensional summative assessment items for NGSS? Well, Michigan just recently released online samples of NGSS science assessment items for grades 5, 8, and 11.

Check out the portal HERE. Click on the grade you want and then follow the login instructions. Enjoy!

(WA Only) NGSS Assessment Supports December 2017

Hi all,

If you are a science assessment nerd like me then you’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of several documents to support the new NGSS Science Assessment in WA State or the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS).

We recently got the following items from the science team at OSPI:

A. Online sample items at grades 5, 8, and 11

B. The first set of WCAS Test & Item Specs…more will be arriving in the coming year

Grade 5 Test Design and Item Specifications

Grade 8 Test Design and Item Specifications

High School Test Design and Item Specifications

C. Webinars to support each of these items are also available- see below:

Register for the “How to Work with the WCAS Training Tests” Webinar on January 10

Register for the “Science Test and Item Specifications Release” Webinar on January 24

Click HERE to see the updated science assessment page at OSPI.

WA Only: LASER Workshop 11-29-17 Next Gen Science & Engineering for Equity

Hi all,

This is a very affordable opportunity for upper elementary and middle school science teachers in the Puget Sound Region to dig into STEM education and equity.

Here is the link if you are interested in signing up:

Below is information copied from the registration site…


Wed, November 29, 2017

8:30 AM – 4:00 PM PST


Microsoft Conference Center

16070 NE 36th Way

Redmond, WA 98052


This full-day workshop for upper elementary and middle school teachers will give participants tools to engage their students in science and engineering practices aligned with the NGSS. From building low-cost sensors, to iterating design challenges to writing across the STEM disciplines, teachers will add to their toolkit of effective and engaging teacher practices. Professor Jose Rios’ keynote will challenge participants to develop their ideas about educating for equity and access in STEM.

Six STEM clock hours will available for an extra fee, pending approval.

Tenative Agenda

  • 8:30-8:45 am – Opening
  • 8:45:- 10:30 am – Hacking STEM
  • 10:30 – 10: 45 am – Break
  • 10:45 – 12:30 pm – Science/Engineering Notebooks
  • 12:30 – 1:15 pm – Lunch
  • 1:15 – 2:00 pm – Equity Presentation
  • 2:00 – 3:45 pm – Engineering Fellow Program
  • 3:45 – 4:00 pm – Closing