Category Archives: K-12 General Science

Science Education in an Age of Misinformation

Stanford University recently released a report titled Science Education in the Age of Misinformation. The report makes the case for why misinformation is a problem and how scientists and science educators might address the problem. The report provides some clear recommendations and also some compelling examples.

You can access the full report as a pdf HERE. You can also visit the accompanying website HERE.

Have You Seen the Latest STEM Teaching Tools?

If you are someone who follows this blog then you most likely are already a fan of the brilliant STEM Teaching Tools site. If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited stemteachingtools.org then I highly recommend heading there now. The last several Practice Briefs are powerful (not that the previous ones were not) and tackle some important topics in equity-focused science instruction. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started:

BSCS: Limited Time FREE Access to Videoverse

As an educator of preservice teachers and a consultant working with inservice teachers I’m always on the lookout for FREE quality videos of science instruction. There are some entities that have great videos but they are now behind a subscription wall (I’m looking at you Teaching Channel). So when I saw that BSCS was offering FREE subscriptions for their BSCS Videoverse platform I quickly jumped on it.

Now, I will admit that I have only signed up today so I haven’t had time to give the videos a thorough review but I’m encouraged by the mix of videos at multiple grade bands. Videos are organized by different practices and instructional moves such as Revealing Student Ideas and Using Models and Representations. There are also places where multiple short clips from the same lesson have been collated together for viewing.

To sign up click HERE and then you’ll be directed to enter your name, email and make a password. If you enter the code FREEACCESS you will not need to enter any credit card information.

WA Green Schools: At-Home Certification

Washington Green Schools is a non-profit organization working to empower students to become environmental leaders by certifying their schools and conserving resources. During the pandemic Washington Green Schools has added the option for students to apply for At-Home Certification.

I would argue that while the usual school certification process is powerful this is one of those instances where the pandemic can lead to interesting modifications to our procedures. Encouraging students and their families to make changes in their home practices is where the real environmental impact can happen.

Teachers and families can download the Washington Green Schools At-Home Certification Kit HERE. The kit provides a menu of projects to choose from (with their family’s permission and support). Students then conduct a home audit and collect data on the change (project) they selected. Families will also get access to the Carbon Calculator tool and multiple other learning resources. I can image this being a powerful at-home STEM learning experience for the winter and/or spring of 2021.

WA STATE: Climate Justice League Workshop Series

Here in Washington the state K-12 teachers have a cool opportunity to join an ongoing workshop series on Climate Justice. Plus you get to join a group that sounds like a combination of the Justice League and Captain Planet and the Planeteers... The Climate Justice League!

Who: This is designed for any K-12 teacher in WA and is lead by Puget Sound ESD, Northwest ESD 189 and ESD 112 in partnership with Washington Green Schools.

What: members will receive support to develop learning opportunities to share with students around issues of social justice through the lens of climate change. Participants will be expected to work on lessons, deliver learning to students and bring student work samples to the final meeting.

Where: It’s all online via Zoom!

When: four 2-hour Zoom meetings:

January 12, 2021

February 2nd, 2021

March 10, 2021

April 27, 2021

Why: Learn about social justice related to climate, get resources (A People’s Curriculum for the Earth), collaboration, $480, and clock hours

How: Check out the registration information below!

Check out the Climate Justice League flier HERE.

If you are interested you can register FREE HERE.

NGSS in the Classroom: What Early Implementer Science Instruction Looks Like

WestEd recently released a report on the NGSS Early Implementers Initiative in California. The report provides a call for NGSS teaching, features of high-quality NGSS instruction, and multiple snapshots of NGSS instructional sequences.

The report highlights 4 NGSS features:

  • 3D Learning
  • Phenomenon-based instruction
  • Engineering
  • Student Agency

I think my favorite part of the document is a comparison of two 8th grade science lessons at the same school. This comparison really helps illustrate the shifts we need to see in NGSS instruction.

I’ll be using parts of this support with my pre-service teachers and also with districts I support.

You can find the report HERE.

List of Online Tools for Distance Science Learning (OpenSciEd & Inquiry Hub)

Teachers using OpenSciEd & Inquiry Hub materials have assembled a Google Sheet with a variety of online tools and how those tools might be used by science teachers during distance learning. There will most likely be several tools you have heard of but it’s possible that there may be ways of using the tools that you haven’t implemented. I’m assuming that even teachers who don’t use the OpenSciEd and Inquiry Hub materials will find some useful nuggets here…and perhaps will want to learn more about the root materials.

NOTE: This is NOT a list of science content materials (videos, simulations, etc). This is a list of digital tools with recommendations for how to use those tools with students engaging in rich NGSS-designed science learning.

You can access the Google Sheet HERE.

Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic- A Report

The National Academies Press recently released a consensus report titled Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This report is FREE and can be read online in your browser or downloaded as a pdf. You will also be able to purchase a hardcopy eventually if you wish.

I know that several school districts have already “made the call” on what school will look like in the fall of 2020. But this report could be used to support the decision to stakeholders and to use as a guide for future decisions. This report also provides support for how to reopen schools safely.

Here is some text from the report describing what the academies do and why it’s important- especially right now:

As we discuss in this document, the research on the spread and mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 is expanding rapidly, leading to greater clarity on some topics while also pointing out new areas for investigation. Guidance documents for schools and districts are emerging at breakneck speed. In July 2020, opinion pieces are dominating the news media landscape, many of them staking out positions on either side of a “to reopen or not” debate and making bold claims about what is “safe”. The politics of the moment are ablaze: one need only scan the headlines of U.S. newspapers to uncover the ways in which the politics around the question of reopening have overshadowed the scientific evidence.

The National Academy of Sciences (now expanded to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) was chartered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to meet the government’s urgent need for an independent adviser on scientific matters. Our organization is founded on the principle that independent guidance based on scientific evidence is essential for making sound policy. Development of that guidance needs to focus on interpreting scientific research without political influence: essentially, independence is necessary to ensure the integrity of the guidance. Further, as the committee refers to in the Epilogue of this report, we know that evidence and data do not provide policy direction on their own: evidence and data must be interpreted, and these interpretations are never neutral. For this reason, the consensus study process at the National Academies demands that multiple perspectives are brought to bear on the available evidence: while “neutrality” is never possible, including multiple perspectives at the table can support an interpretation of the evidence that reflects the concerns of multiple constituencies and is as independent from individual bias as possible.

FREE Chapter: Toward More Equitable Learning in Science

Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 12.54.41 PMThe National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) currently has a FREE chapter from the book Helping Student Make Sense of the World using Next Generation Science & Engineering Practices. This book is a compilation of chapters from multiple authors. The FREE chapter is Toward More Equitable Learning in Science by Megan Bang, Bryan Brown, Angela Calabrese Barton, Ann Rosebery, and Beth Warren.

The chapter lays out 3 Principles for expanding meaningful learning opportunities in science:

  • Principle 1: Notice sense-making repertoires. Attend to, listen to, and think about students’ diverse sense-making as connecting to science practices.

  • Principle 2: Support sense-making. Actively support students in using their sense-making repertoires and experiences as critical tools in engaging with science practices.

  • Principle 3: Engage diverse sense-making. Engage students in understanding how scientific practices and knowledge are always developing and how their own community histories, values, and practices have contributed to scientific understanding and problem solving and will continue to do so.

I think that some of us as science teachers might look at these principles and say, “Yes- I think I do that.” OR “I’m not sure what this means exactly.”

This chapter uses three vignettes to clarify these three principles that are crying out for examples.

Not sure how long this chapter will stay on the NSTA site as a FREE download so grab it now.

Climate Science Assessment Tasks

The Phenomenal Assessment site features three assessment tasks created for the Climate Science Proviso which has provided climate science education funding in Washington state. You will find an elementary task, a middle school task and a high school task.

Elementary: Comparing & Critiquing Energy Sources grade 4

Middle School: Analyzing Patterns in Wildfire Data

High School: Climate Impacts after 1492

These assessment tasks are not intended to be solely used as summative assessments. Think about how you might use these as objects of study for your own professional learning and how these might be used as assessments WHILE learning. This site provides examples of ways that these tasks might be used in equitable and rigorous ways. See below:

Do-Talk-Revise

Reflect on Argumentation

Analyze Data