For the past several weeks I have been involved in an online training of NextGen Time– a set of tools and procedures for evaluating, selecting and implementing new NGSS-based science instructional materials. The NextGen Time tools are the result of a collaboration between BSCS, WestEd and Achieve. The process and tools are built around 5 phases: Prepare, Prescreen, Paperscreen, Pilot, and Plan (implement). Click HERE to dig deeper into the 5 phases.
For the online training, we spent several hours (over multiple days) immersed in the Paperscreen phase. We practiced the Paperscreen by reviewing the middle school Disruptions in Ecosystems unit from the American Museum of Natural History. One of my key take-aways was the power in being required to go public and visual with our review process. While this would have happened using posters and sticky notes in a face-to-face training we instead used Google Jamboards, shared documents, and FlipGrid along with a healthy dose of Zoom breakout rooms to interrogate our assigned chapters in the materials. We worked in small groups with each group being responsible for becoming an expert on one chapter in the materials….a bit of a jigsaw process. We came together as a whole group often to connect and to “tell the story” of our section of the materials. We also mixed into heterogeneous groups occasionally so that we could easily hear about other parts of the materials. We highlighted phenomena and problems in the unit, SEPs, CCCs, DCIs, assessment opportunities, and much more. By the end we had a crazy but clear public tapestry of virtual sticky notes, colors, dots, arrows and drawings to tell the story of the unit.
I have co-facilitated a few science instructional materials over the last few years and I’ve primarily used a process based on the EQuIP Rubric for Science. After learning about NextGen Time I will definitely be making some modifications to the tools and processes that I recommend to my school district partners. One of the great benefits of the rigorous and ambitious NextGen Time process is the professional learning that accompanies the review process. This isn’t just a process to examine materials- it’s also a way to learn about the shifts in NGSS and to analyze the design of high-quality science materials. If done right this process can lead to great professional learning and increased expertise in school districts.