Category Archives: K-12 General Science

Puget Sound Renewable Educator Leadership Institute: WA ONLY

Hi all,

Here is an opportunity for teacher leaders in selected Pierce, King, and Snohomish County school districts to receive:

  • Weeklong summer institute on energy (purported to be NGSS aligned)
  • $3500 in curriculum materials
  • FREE clock hours

Location and Date

July 18 – 22, 2016

University of Washington – Bothell

~ 8:30 am – 3:30 pm Daily

Applications are due May 15, 2016. You can find the RFP HERE and visit the site HERE.

Below I have copied text from the groups own description:

The Renewable Educator Leadership Institute is an innovative teacher professional development opportunity for Pierce, Snohomish, and King County K-12 educators who seek to meaningfully engage students in preparation for STEM careers. The weeklong summer institute leverages two major change elements of our society – the emergence of the new energy economy and the changing power grid – as demonstrations of real-world systems that can facilitate impactful, interactive learning experiences for students. The Leadership Institute is provided by BEF Solar 4R Schools, and is sponsored by Boeing Foundation, with additional support from M.J.Murdock Charitable Trust and the Bonneville Power Administration.


Next Generation Storylines

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 5.37.19 PM.pngOVERVIEW: is a site where you can find tools and examples for building coherent “storylines” for teaching K-12 science lessons. Tradition science lessons have lacked a storyline. They have tended to be a wandering encounter of multiple topics where a students question of “Why are we learning this?” might be answered with “Because you need to know this in high school” or “Because it’s on the test”… you get the picture. The Next Generation Science Science Standards and A Framework for K-12 Science Education call for us to provide students with meaningful and engaging phenomena and problems that drive instruction. provides tools and resources for meeting this call.

At the site you will find:

  • Examples of elementary and high school storylines (middle school coming soon)
    • Graphic Organizers, Sample Lessons, Sample Student Sheets
  • Tools for designing storylines (coming soon)
  • Talks and Papers from key authors in this work

TARGET AUDIENCE: Curriculum Directors, Curriculum Writers, Teachers, Science Professional Development Providers, administrators, etc

PURPOSE: The site provides tools and examples of powerful science storylines and makes the case for why a coherent storyline is important to effective science teaching and learning.


Science Professional Learning Standards

OVERVIEW: The Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) has created a draft document of Science Professional Learning Standards. These standards are divided into three categories

Attributes of High Quality Professional Learning Opportunities
Implementing and Sustaining a Professional Development Infrastructure
Evaluating Professional Learning Opportunities

Here is an example of a standard

TARGET AUDIENCE: Administrators, teacher education programs, K-12 teachers, Professional development providers, teacher leaders, curriculum directors, curriculum developers, and other science educators

PURPOSE: The purpose of these standards is to provide science professional development providers with clear targets for professional learning and to give teachers specific criteria for what they should be expecting from PD opportunities


5 Tools for Developing NGSS Units: AMNH

imageOVERVIEW: The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has developed a set of tools for planning units to address the NGSS. AMNH has created 5 tools that have been developed and tested for supporting groups of teachers in developing quality NGSS units of instruction. Each of the 5 tools is very robust and the tools are intended to be used very intentionally during multiple days of guided professional development.

The five tools do the following:
Tool One: Using the 3 Dimensions of a Performance Expectation to create a unit
Tool Two: Planning assessment and evidence of learning
Tool Three: Using the 5E model to develop a conceptual flow
Tool Four: Using the 5E model to develop learning sequences
Tool Five: Using evidence of learning specifications to develop performance tasks

Embedded below is a video overview of the 5 Tools.

The website for this project is nicely designed and user friendly. Each page of the site presents one of the 5 Tools and contains:
a video overview
a text overview
a facilitation guide
participant handouts
PowerPoints slides
templates for participants
TARGET AUDIENCE: Professional development providers, teacher leaders, curriculum directors , curriculum developers, and other science educators

PURPOSE: Develop a deeper understanding of the NGSS and design of effective 3 dimensional learning sequences and assessments. Guide thoughtful and rigorous development of NGSS lessons, units, and assessments.



NSTA Conference 2016

imageI’m attending the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Nashville this week. It’s four days of over 1000 total sessions on a variety of science education topics. I’m always on the lookout for tools and strategies on NGSS and best practices that I can use in my professional development work with science teachers and instruction with pre-service teachers.

So far, I’m not disappointed- there is lots of good stuff. We are at a point in the development of support for NGSS implementation where several teachers and entities have quality tools to share. But that is also a problem in our field right now. We have lots of great tools and resources on effective science instruction and the NGSS, however, these tools tend not to be widely known by many practitioners (teachers and administrators).

One of the missions of this site has long been to help keep folks “in the know” about tools, websites, and resources on K-12 science education. In the coming days I hope to highlight a few of my favorites from the 2016 NSTA conference. I’m also planning to build a document to organize and curate some of the best FREE resources for NGSS implementation.

If you were unable to attend the NSTA conference, there are still ways that you can engage with the sessions

  • You can peruse the sessions HERE and access ppt slides, handouts, etc for sessions that look interesting
  • You can follow the hashtag #NSTA16 on Twitter to find what people are sharing
  • You can follow a specific science educator on Twitter to see what they are sharing
  • You can read my blog and I’ll highlight a few key resources.

What Makes a Good Anchoring Phenomenon?

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 1.11.27 PMThe Next Generation Science Standards and best practices in science instruction tell us that science instructional sequences are more meaningful to students and more coherent when based on interesting phenomena. The Research + Practice Collaboratory has released a new tool for helping to define the qualities of an effective anchoring phenomenon as a driver for an instructional sequence. This 1-pager is available HERE. This document could be a great supplement/cheat sheet to be used during teacher planning and/or professional development.

Provide Feedback on A Framework for K-12 Computer Science Education

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.40.44 PMDid you know that there is an initiative to start teaching computer science to every K-12 student? This initiative signals a significant shift in our view of computer science and the importance of computer science in our daily lives. Is it possible that we all need to know something about computer science just to be technologically literate in our current society?

Visit to learn more about the partners and the cause. There is currently A Framework for K12 Computer Science Education that is in the 2nd stage of review. You can give feedback on the current draft before April 5, 2016. I highly recommend that all K-12 educators and district leaders take a moment to download the framework and provide feedback. Click HERE to access and review the draft framework. Click HERE to access a short overview of the initiative with a timeline.

NGSS: EQuIP Rubric Videos

As we move forward with implementing the NGSS in multiple partner states, it is more and more likely that we will need to use tools like the EQuIP Rubric to assess our own attempts at designing NGSS lessons and units and those science materials provided by publishing companies. You can find the EQuIP Rubric and a facilitator’s guide at the links below:

The Teaching Channel also recently added a series of four videos to support work with the EQuIP Rubric:

NGSS EQuIP Rubric: Overview  

NGSS EQuIP Rubric: 3-Dimensional Learning 

NGSS EQuIP Rubric: Using Phenomena 

NGSS EQuIP Rubric: Evidence of Student Learning 

If you are interested, you can also view an example of how a publishing company  (Engineering is Elementary) is using the EQuIP Rubric to connect existing instructional materials with NGSS.


NSTA: NGSS Classroom Resources

NSTA has been slowly adding NGSS resources to their NGSS@ NSTA hub. This week they released a more clearly organized “gateway” to these resources. Click HERE to search and browse for NGSS resources. Resources are vetted and curated by the NGSS@NSTA Curators. Each resource starts with an introduction page that describes the resource and how it connects to NGSS. This page also contains connections to specific performance expectations and may say something like… “This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.” Many resources are FREE but I did notice that a few require a fee or a registration.

Washington State to Collaborate on NGSS Assessment Development

I’ve been waiting anxiously to hear whether Washington State would be developing our own NGSS state-wide assessments or if we would partner with others states. Today the word came out that Washington will in fact be working as part of a collaborative group. Below is text from the official announcement from OSPI.

Beginning of development for 2013 (NGSS) Standards

We are happy to announce that Washington has joined a collaborative group of states to begin the development of assessments based on the Next Generation Science Standards (known in Washington as the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards). The group work is being coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The first step of the collaboration is to develop item specifications based on the Standards.

Dawn Cope and Cinda Parton will be attending the group meetings this winter and spring. We will keep you posted about the progress, and if there are opportunities for educator reviews of the documents during the development stages we will make sure to let you know.

The first state-wide assessments of these new standards are expected to be administered in spring 2017 or spring 2018