Category Archives: K-12 General Science

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

 

 

Video: How to See Germs Spread

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.

Resources for Supporting Science Learning During School Closures

Our friends at STEM Teaching ToolsScreen Shot 2020-03-23 at 3.52.54 PM 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 by Bryan A. Brown

science in the city coverScience 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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