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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.

Elementary Science Support Moodle

OSPI has developed a Moodle site for supporting K-5 implementation of the Next Generation Science standards here in Washington state. You will need to set up a free account and join the “class” in order to access the materials. Lots of good NGSS stuff here organized by grade levels K-5. Any elementary teacher or leader who supports elementary teachers should know about this resource.

Click HERE to access the Elementary Science Support Moodle.

NGSS Classroom Posters

NGSS-posters_grayAn important step toward the implementation of the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards is to be intentional about teaching the 3 Dimensions of the NGSS:

  • The Science & Engineering Practices
  • The Crosscutting Concepts
  • The Disciplinary Core Ideas

Sometimes as teachers and students we need a public reminder of what we are trying to implement. Project Neuron at the University of Illinois has a nicely formatted set of small posters on the 3 Dimensions of the NGSS that can be printed off and used in the classroom. There are 2 versions of the posters- sets with subtitles and sets with just the names of the SEPs, CCCs and DCIs. Click HERE to see the posters.


Connecticut and Michigan Adopt NGSS

This is not exactly breaking news, but two more states adopted the NGSS  in early November of 2015. That makes 16 (17 if you count West Virginia and their tweaks to the NGSS) states plus the District of Columbia. As more states adopt NGSS, that adds more collaborative partners, more innovation, and most importantly more students who will have access to 3 Dimensional science learning.

Click HERE to read an Education Week article about these latest additions of states adopting the NGSS.

CA Science Curriculum Framework DRAFT (NGSS)

California recently released the first DRAFT of their Science Curriculum Framework. There is currently a 60 day public review process where stakeholders can give feedback.

I think this document (It’s a large piece of text with multiple sections!) will be helpful to other states, districts, and schools who are continuing to implement the Next Generation Science Standards.

I have only skimmed the document but am finding it to be very helpful especially with designing instructional modules and learning sequences. I know many districts will also be interested in the two different course models for High School science.

You can access the DRAFT CA Science Curriculum Framework HERE.

You can view a November 17th, 2015 webinar on the framework HERE.


Learning about the NGSS Online

These online modules will be moving to a new location after the new year. The current platform, MyBrainshark, will be closing down in January 2016… I’ll be posting the new home for these modules in late December 2015

Teachable Moments

In 2014-15, I created a series of FREE online professional development modules on the Next Generation Science Standards. There are 4 modules designed to take about 1 hour each to complete. As we work to increase our understanding of NGSS in the Puyallup Watershed region this might be a useful resource.

Each 60 minute module is interactive and designed to be used by a pair or small group of learners. Modules contain all documents and links needed for engaging professional learning. These online modules are designed to be used by any K-12 teachers, administrators, professional development providers or community members who want to develop an understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards. You may access the individual modules at the links below.

Part 1: Overview of NGSS


Part 2: Science & Engineering Practices


Part 3: Crosscutting Concepts


Part 4: Engineering…

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Designing High Impact Field Experiences

Teachable Moments

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.23.04 AMPacific Education Institute (PEI) provides many FREE resources to support K-12 teachers in getting students learning outdoors. One of my favorite PEI resources is the Designing High Impact Field Experiences guide. This guide provides tools and resources to guarantee that a “field trip” can become a powerful learning experience for students.

The guide provides the following resources:

  • Tools for planning learning goals and activities
  • Recommendations for building partnerships
  • tools for visiting the field experience site
  • Resources for building “bookend lessons”… lessons before, during, and after the experience
  • Templates and examples of field journals
  • Tools for planning logistics of materials, chaperones, and student safety
  • Resources for evaluating a field experience

To download a FREE pdf of Designing High Impact Field Experiences… click HERE and then complete the information. This is a valuable resource for guiding any successful outdoor learning experience.

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