Category Archives: middle school

WA Science Assessment Updates 2014

Hi all,

While we recently adopted the Next Generation Science Standards here in Washington (the state), we will still be operating our science assessment system under our 2009 Science Learning Standards for the next few years. This seems to have caused much confusion for folks. I’ve talked to several district and building leaders who thought that the Science MSPs and Biology EOC were being eliminated after this year.. not the case.

OSPI has recently uploaded the latest science assessment resources HERE. You will find:

Grade 5 Science Update: 2014 – NEW

Grade 8 Science Update: 2014 – NEW

Biology EOC Update: 2014 – NEW

Lessons Learned from Scoring Student Work: 2013 – NEW

Thinking about Engineering Education

For the last 3 years I have been dabbling in Engineering Education. Most of the work has been at the awareness level- giving K-8 teachers (inservice and preservice) an introduction to the Engineering Design Process and helping them to think about how to identify and/or add some engineering tasks to their science instruction. With the release of the Next Generation Science Standards, we now have a strong driving force for intentional K-12 engineering education.

I have multiple projects in the 2013-14 school year that involve engineering education, so I am hoping to build up my own expertise on engineering in terms of engineering content, pedagogy, and professional development practices. Moving to a K-12 focus on engineering will be new for most of us. Below I have listed just a few of my favorite engineering resources (most of them FREE and perhaps lesser known) and have organized them by category. I’ll be posting on more individual resources in the coming weeks.

Overview of Engineering Education

Appendix I of NGSS– This is the cyclical 3 part Engineering Process we should be considering

Core Ideas of Engineering and Technology” by Cary Sneider NSTA Article

Engineering Education K-12– a 2009 report

2009 Issue of the Bridge– Linking engineering and society (has some good articles about teaching and learning engineering)

Resources on Engineering PD

Elementary Teacher Professional Development in Engineering: Lessons Learned from Engineering is Elementary

Engineering Efforts and Opportunities in the National Science Foundation’s Math and Science Partnerships (MSP) Program

Learning and Teaching Science Through Engineering Design: Insights and Implications for Professional Development

Engineering Advocacy

Engineering Messaging– Provides statements and tools for making the case for engineering education

Resources for teaching about Engineering

K-5 Application (Design) Handbook

Those Darn Squirrels (Teaching Engineering with a Picture Book)

A World in Motion– Sources of FREE K-12 Design Challenges

PBS Design Squad

More to come 🙂

Video

Planet Nutshell Climate Science Videos

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 1.06.59 PMThe Next Generation Science Standards contain a strong K-12 focus on climate science and this focus may be missing in some of our instructional materials. Planet Nutshell contains several short well produced educational video clips and they have a series of 11 videos on climate science. See What is Climate? embedded below. These could provide a useful supplement.

NSTA July 2013 Journals: A Focus on Argumentation

The July 2013 issues of NSTA‘s journals all feature a focus on argumentation and explanation. Explanation and Argumentation are both Practices of Science & Engineering in the new Next Generation Science Standards. These two practices connect nicely with the Common Core Math and ELA Standards and are typically not well understood or implemented in K-12 classrooms.

These journal articles might supply a much needed focus on explanation and argumentation while also providing some tools and resources for our own professional development. I happen to be working on multiple projects this coming year related to explanation and argumentation so I hope to have much to share as the year progresses.

As usual, NSTA provides a few articles for FREE.. see below:

Science & Children (elementary science)

Science Scope (middle school)

The Science Teacher (high school)

 

Video

Two Minute Geology

Spend a few minutes of your summer exploring a  brand new series of short geology videos from scenic Washington. These informative video clips are now available online and are hosted by Central Washington University geology professor Nick Zentner and created by Tom Foster for HUGEfloods.com .  You will find 12 current episodes with more on the way at their YouTube Channel or Facebook page. These clips could be useful for providing some Earth Science content and context to K-8 learners (and teachers). See the clip on What is a Coulee? embedded below

STEM Practices

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.10.24 AMYesterday I recommended the book STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8 as a wonderful resource for any K-8 teacher looking to dig deeper into understanding STEM education. One of my favorite parts of the book is a simple (yet powerful) page that organizes the Practices of Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics in a way that helps us to make connections between these practices. I’ve adapted it into a one page document with some hyperlinks to source documents. This might be a useful resource of those of you who are building leaders, professional development providers, or teachers looking to design integrated STEM lessons. Enjoy!

STEM Practices 1 pager

 

WA State: FREE Online Workshop- From Systems, Inquiry, & Application to the NGSS

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K-8 teachers of science in Washington state may be interested in a FREE online workshop I created using Udemy.com as a platform.

The workshop is titled- From Systems, Inquiry, & Application to the NGSS. The goals of the workshop are for participants to:

  • gain a deeper understanding of Systems, Inquiry, and Application in the WA Science Learning Standards
  • gain an awareness of the 3 dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (Practices of Science & Engineering, Crosscutting Concepts, & Disciplinary Core Ideas)
  • gain multiple tools and resources for teaching students about Systems, Inquiry, & Application with connections to NGSS (Systems Handbook, Application Handbook, and lessons based on narrative text)

The workshop is:

  • Asynchronous- (You attend when you want and engage with materials in the order you want)
  • FREE
  • Based on a series of mostly short video “lectures” where participants engage with articles, videos, links, and make sense of the materials
  • and it’s FREE

NOTES:

A. I view this as a pilot and would love feedback from participants on what worked for your learning and what could be improved. I hope to create future courses with a better production value.

B. This workshop has an intentional focus on the Washington Science Learning Standards. Participants looking for a workshop with a sole focus on the NGSS should look elsewhere.

Click HERE to access the course. Enjoy!

Summer Reading: STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 2.36.32 PMWell, it’s that time of year where the ongoing countdown of number of days to the end of the school year is reaching single digits for most of us. As such I’ll be posting some recommendations for professional summer reading related to science education in the coming weeks.

My first recommendation is a new book titled- STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8 by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, and Michael Comer. STEM Lesson Essentials is a timely, readable, and usable guide to STEM literacy that won’t weigh down your beach bag. (At 178 pages it is slim but packs a punch.) See some specifics below.

PROS:

  • The Front Matter (chapters 1-5) are essential reading for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of STEM literacy and what it means- Every K-8 principal should read this book!
  • Contains authentic and engaging standards-based STEM activities that a teacher might use in a classroom or that a professional development provider might use in a workshop
  • Chapters are well-written, engaging, and short… perfect for summer reading
  • Makes the case for technology and engineering as central aspects of STEM education
  • Uses the STEM Practices as a central storyline (see p. 38)
  • Includes support on PBL, assessment, and STEM lesson resources

CONS:

  • K-2 examples would be appreciated (as would High School)
  • Clearer connections on how to obtain some of the materials in sample lessons
  • No e-book version?
  • Easy connection to some online supports- video, links, website, etc

Let me know if you would like to join me in a virtual book study over the summer. I’ve only touched the surface on this great resource.

NOAA Middle School Climate Science Materials

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 10.26.54 AMNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a FREE middle school unit on the essential principles of climate science titled: Discover Your Changing World. Click HERE to download the entire PDF or individual activities. These materials could be useful in helping to meet some of the weather/climate related expectations in the NGSS. The resource was recently revised but does not contain direct correlations to the NGSS or the Framework for K-12 Science Education but I’m assuming that NOAA is working on this…? Also, see Chris Ohana’s brief critique of the materials in the comment section.

If you are a middle school science teacher or a science curriculum specialist- please leave your thoughts in the comments- Does this look like a useful supplemental resource? Why/why not? How might you use this?

Crash Course: Biology

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 7.16.49 PMWould you (or your students) appreciate an online overview of biology created by the funny and talented Hank Green? Then check out Hank’s 40-part Crash Course in Biology. Each lesson consists of a short (10-15 minute) YouTube video. The entire course is 7 hours but can easily be searched and used by specific biology content. See That’s Why Carbon is a Tramp: Crash Course Biology #1 embedded below. This would be most useful for high school students or college students looking for a review or refresher of life science concepts.

By the way, Hank also has a Crash Course in Ecology.