OVERVIEW: I have had several conversations with teachers and administrators about how learning targets, objectives, and success criteria should look different in science learning than they might in other content areas. Some of these conversations have been greeted with skepticism (to say the least) so it will be nice to have a resource to help guide this topic in the future. The latest STEM Teaching Tool #46 is titled: How to define meaningful daily learning objectives for science investigations… and it looks like a brilliant overview of this important topic.
PURPOSE: This STEM Teaching tool provides clarity and examples for how learning targets in science can be public, helpful, constructed with students, and designed in a way to not “give away” the concept being learned.
AUDIENCE: district and building administrators, teachers of science, PD providers, teacher educators, curriculum writers
OVERVIEW: I have owned Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Monroe (Creator of xkcd) for about a year. I keep it in my office and a few times a month I find myself opening it up and spending several minutes examining the brilliant labeled diagrams (they are amazing systems models) that show how common and important living and designed systems work. Mr. Monroe committed to using only the “ten hundred” most common words. This constraint creates a beautiful simplicity that gets to the essence of these systems. As science teachers we can learn a lesson from this. Too often we value vocabulary words as evidence of student understanding. Perhaps we should push more for simplified explanations that use everyday language.
PURPOSE: I think that any human being will find this book to be interesting and any scientist, engineer, or STEM educator will also find it to be inspiring and valuable. There is something about the clearly illustrated systems models that seem to mesh perfectly with the Next Generation Science Standards. This book also makes a wonderful gift.
OVERVIEW: The NGSS Lesson Screener is a tool designed for quickly reviewing a science learning sequence to see if the design is 3 Dimensional and on the road to meeting the expectations and shifts of the NGSS. This tool might also be useful to use prior to the more extensive NGSS EQuIP Rubric.
PURPOSE: As many of us work to build and modify K-12 science lessons and units that align to the NGSS- the NGSS Lesson Screener can be used by teams and professional development providers to make sure that work is on the right track. The NGSS Lesson Screener is designed to evaluate similar criteria to the NGSS EQuIP Rubric but is more brief and looks to be more flexible.
AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers of science, science teacher leaders, administrators, curriculum directors, PD providers, others
OVERVIEW: Each month Achieve releases an NGSS Now Newsletter. You can sign up HERE to receive the newsletter via email. NGSS Now has a series of standard columns including: Featured Standards, Science Phenomenon, and Question of the Month. I find this to be a very useful resource.
PURPOSE: The NGSS Now Newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with the multiple projects and resources for NGSS implementation.
AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers of science, administrators, PD providers, other who support science education
LINK: Click the link below for the January 2017 issue of NGSS Now
OVERVIEW: Tom Hathorn, K-12 Science Specialist for the Bethel School District in Washington State, has worked with his science team to create a spectacular set of grade 6-12 science formative assessment tasks for understanding the Next Generation Science Standards. These assessments are designed to be “objects of study” as we all continue to learn about 2 Dimensional and 3 Dimensional assessment. The assessment tasks meet the following criteria:
- Items are based on a stimulus with an anchoring phenomena
- Each item assesses at least 2 of the 3 Dimensions of NGSS
- Tasks are based on bundles of NGSS performance expectations
- Individual items are connected to specific evidence statements
There are currently 17 assessment tasks and I can just about guarantee that any grade 6-12 teacher of science will find at least one task that matches NGSS Performance Expectations in your course/grade. You will find tasks targeting life science, physical science, Earth/Space science and Engineering Design.
PURPOSE: These NGSS assessment tasks are intended to be used as professional learning objects so that we can all move forward in our understanding of how 3 Dimensional Assessment will be different than typical classroom assessments. In Bethel, they have created modified lessons and units that match these assessment tasks. Here is how Tom describes the use of these assessment tasks with his teachers:
Purpose & Expectations: Become More Proficient at 3-D Learning & Assessment
- Primary Purpose: These lessons and assessments afford teachers the chance to understand, implement, and discuss “3-dimensional” lessons and assessments.
- All teachers should:
- Use the NGSS lesson modifications.
- Give the NGSS assessment.
- Use the assessment as fodder for student-student conversation.
- Discuss their lesson observations & student work with colleagues.
- The results will be used to “optimize” the lesson plans.
AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers of science, district leaders, Curriculum and Assessment Directors, PD providers, pre-service teachers, building administrators, parents, others
LINK: Tom has built a shared Google Folder at the link HERE. You will find several supporting documents. You will want to go to the folder titled Bethel NGSAs- For 3D Planning… Inside this folder you will find labeled folders with documents for each of the assessment tasks. Each folder contains the Stimulus and the Items as separate documents. There is purposefully No Answer Key or Rubric for these.
Here is a note from Tom on the use of these assessments:
About these NGSAs (Next Generation Science Assessments)
You’ll see presentation materials as well as the assessments themselves.
Caveat – These represent our first efforts…we’re getting better at it:
We are learning a lot about 3D assessment and instruction (happily…that’s the point). A few lessons-learned:
- Doing the NGSAs, studying the evidence statements, and tweaking the items is very good learning for teachers.
- The new Task Formats document is a great tool for assessment & instructional tasks; the slides from AIR’s presentation about item types is also very helpful to teachers who want to do NGSA work.
- In our 2nd round of NGSA work I left more room for improving the items/cluster, which engaged the teachers in considering the different selected-response item types. With one group I wrote all items as constructed-response, then had them decide which ones to revise into selected-response…this seemed to work very well.
- These NGSAs are time-consuming, and so we’re getting better at using selected-response items and writing fewer items that target important-but-not-every evidence statement.
- Teachers are using the NGSAs in alternate ways, not always single-sitting (choosing only some items, using as homework, spreading them out over time).
- We are emphasizing that these are intended as formative assessments, so consider which items to discuss, and what kind of discourse to use (see Page Keeley’s Formative Assessment in Science vol.1 & vol.2, which have been revised to focus on NGSS Practices & Crosscutting Concepts). These student conversations are nice opportunities to engage students in the 3 dimensions.
- Engaging administrators with a few items from NGSAs has helped them to understand NGSS, what’s reasonable (or not) to expect from teachers at this point, and how to support teachers & teacher leaders.
K-12 Science Specialist
Bethel School District
OVERVIEW: The Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE, or “access”) project recently released an Open Educational Resource (OER) module for professional learning on equitable 3Dimensional formative assessment tasks in science.
AUDIENCE: science professional development providers, teacher leaders, school district leaders, teacher educators, etc
PURPOSE: The module provides all the resources needed to provide a 60-90 minute session of professional learning on Equitable 3D Formative Assessment. You will find slides, facilitation notes, and embedded resources. Lots of good stuff here… I’m looking forward to more impactful resources from this project.
LINK: Click HERE to learn more about this resource and to find all of the materials.
OVERVIEW: Dr. Phil Bell at the University of Washington was recently asked what pre-service teachers should know about the Next Generation Science Standards. He responded with a series of Tweets or a Twitter Essay. (As an instructor of multiple science methods courses I’m considering making this a part of my syllabus.)
AUDIENCE: Any teacher educators of K-12 teachers of science (I think this list also applies to practicing teachers of science and those who provide science professional development.)
PURPOSE: This Twitter essay provides specific resources and reminders about how the teaching of science is much more than just putting a bunch of content into the heads of learners. My personal favorite is recommendation #3:
Make equity & social justice a central, daily focus of your science teaching practice —not an add-on
I also highly recommend following Dr. Bell on Twitter if you don’t already:
Here is a short video of Dr. Bell discussing the role of play and personal engagement in science learning.