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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.

A Guide for Teaching Field Investigations: NGSS Edition

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 5.08.50 PMPacific Education Institute recently revised and updated their “Field Investigation Guide” (not the official title- but I’ve always dubbed it this). The Field Investigation Guide has been a powerful resource for helping K-12 teachers to get students outside in their schoolyard doing science. This newest version makes intentional connections to the Three Dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards and has the new subtitle: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Practices.

The new NGSS edition contains:

  • An updated Chapter 1 with clear connections between field investigations and the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Question stems for considering the Crosscutting Concepts
  • Scaffolds for engaging in the Science and Engineering Practices outdoors (based on the NGSS evidence statements)
  • Connections to the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) framework for supporting students’ explanations and arguments
  • Example lessons with connections to the 3 Dimensions of NGSS
  • Much more!

You can download this latest version of the Field Investigation Guide for free HERE. To be transparent- I was one of the revision authors. Special thanks to Pacific Education Institute for including me in this work.

Integrating Science and Engineering Practices into Assessments

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 7.48.47 PMThe Research & Practice Collaboratory (yes, I guess that’s a real word), recently released a tool to help teachers, schools, and districts to develop science assessment tasks that integrate the science & engineering practices. Click HERE to download Integrating Science Practices into Assessment Tasks.

In the document you will find:

  • Task formats for each of the Science & Engineering Practices
  • Example 3D Assessment Task- A High School life science example

Seems like another helpful NGSS Assessment tool to add to our toolbox- the formats for each practice are particularly useful.

March 2016 NGSS Newsletter

The site posts a monthly newsletter. You can access the March 2016 NGSS Newsletter HERE. You will find information about the new NGSS website, bundling Performance Expectations, thinking about bee colony collapse as a phenomena, and more.


New Look for NGSS Website

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 7.46.07 AMThe Next Generation Science Standards site ( has a new updated look. Check it out and see what you think. The previous structure suffered from having LOTS of resources that could be difficult to find if you didn’t know how or what to look for. I haven’t spent enough time with the new structure to see if it’s improved. Let me know if it seems more user-friendly and what changes you find most useful.

Science Teachers’ Learning: Enhancing Opportunities, Creating Supportive Contexts

science teachers learning coverThe National Academies Press (NAP) recently released a new report titled Science Teachers’ Learning: Enhancing Opportunities, Creating Supportive Contexts. 

This report provides a rich, detailed, and research-based account of how school systems should move forward with professional learning for science teachers. This will be especially useful to school systems working to implement the Next Generation Science Standards.

The report includes thoughtful recommendations and conclusions to guide school systems  as they try to improve science outcomes for students. Here are some examples of conclusions in the report:

Conclusion 1: An evolving understanding of how best to teach science, including the NGSS, represents a significant transition in the way science is currently taught in most classrooms and will require most science teachers to alter the way they teach.

Conclusion 2: The available evidence suggests that many science teachers have not had sufficiently rich experiences with the content relevant to the science courses they currently teach, let alone a substantially redesigned science curriculum. Very few teachers have experience with the science and engineering practices described in the NGSS. This situation is especially pronounced both for elementary school teachers and in schools that serve high percentages of low-income students, where teachers are often newer and less qualified.

Conclusion 3: Typically, the selection of and participation in professional learning opportunities is up to individual teachers. There is often little attention to developing collective capacity for science teaching at the build- ing and district levels or to offering teachers learning opportunities tailored to their specific needs and offered in ways that support cumulative learning over time.

If you are a leader responsible for shaping and designing science learning for teachers, then I HIGHLY recommend you check out this report. Click HERE to read a short NSTA blog post about the report as an entry point.

You can download this report for FREE or read it online in your browser HERE.