Category Archives: K-12 General Science

NSTA Article: Addressing Student Diversity & Equity

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.26.47 PM.pngOVERVIEW: In the April 2016 issues of all of the NSTA journals there is a FREE article titled: Addressing Student Diversity and Equity. The article describes 4 aspects of NGSS that are particularly relevant to diversity and equity issues:

  1. 3Dimensional performance expectations that focus on explaining phenomena and solving problems- When the phenomena and problems are nested in home and community contexts, students are able to leverage their everyday experiences and language to engage with the learning
  2. Inclusion of engineering- solving problems in local contexts makes science relevant and improves interest in STEM fields
  3. Science & Engineering Practices- promote rich discourse and practice in the talk of science and allow students to share thinking using “less than perfect English”
  4. Crosscutting Concepts- enable students to make connections among multiple science ideas

The article then goes on to discuss NGSS Appendix D and the 7 Diversity and Equity Case Studies (PS- these are now much more difficult to find with the reorganization) These resources need to be as foundational in teacher professional development as understanding the 3 Dimensions and the anatomy of a standard.

AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers, administrators, parents, curriculum directors, PD providers, community members, etc

PURPOSE: Provides an overview of Equity & Diversity resources in NGSS. Makes a case for the importance of an Equity & Diversity focus during NGSS implementation.


Steps to Designing a 3-Dimensional Assessment

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 8.55.33 AMOVERVIEW: The Research + Practice Collaboratory continues to provide short, powerful, and easy-to-use tools for the field. The latest resource from this group is PD Tool: Steps to Designing a 3-Dimensional Assessment.

The 5 steps in the process are:

  • Step 1: Define what you will assess by analyzing relevant sections of A Framework for K-12 Science Education and crafting learning claims.
  • Step 2: Brainstorm Possible Scenarios for Eliciting Student Understanding.
  • Step 3: Use Task Formats to Build Questions to Engage Students with the Scenario.
  • Step 4: Imagine the Range of Possible Student Responses to the Questions.
  • Step 5: Share, Review, and Revise.

This tool is intended to be a companion to two other great tools:

AUDIENCE: Teachers, teacher leaders, PD providers, curriculum directors, administrators, others

PURPOSE: This specific tool allows teachers to design Three-dimensional FORMATIVE assessment tasks that allow teachers to make inferences about what students’ are understanding about the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts.


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.