By Kailey Rhodes and Aaron Parker, Rubicon International
Familiarity with the NGSS: How much do we already know about the NGSS? What more information and professional development do we need? Some resources to investigate:
- Read The National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education, which formed the foundation for the standards themselves
- Watch an introductory webinar on the NGSS standards
- Read the standards and their structure
- Explore the new bundles
Gather Materials: In my case, our Science department has agreed that we will be adhering to the plan laid out in the NGSS Performance Expectations. So, as a 1st grade teacher, I am responsible for the 12 Performance Expectations (PE’s) for 1st graders. I have printed out a copy of the 1st Grade NGSS Storyline to read, and I will want to have the 12 PE’s in front of me so that I can begin unpacking the standards into units. I’ve also decided to use the NGSS Bundles as a suggested order for teaching information.
Things to Consider:
Can I rebundle? I may chose to use the NGSS bundles as a loose skeleton of my curriculum, and may chose to rearrange the order of the PE’s. That’s ok! The Performance Expectations are expected of my 1st graders by the end of the year, so as long as we cover it, the order is unimportant. What IS important is that I’m constantly connecting what we’re doing in class to a phenomena we’re trying to solve. Some teachers may wish to bundle their own Performance Expectations into an order that suits them or a particular event at their school. If the 1st grade annual field trip to the zoo is in the Spring, I may need to readjust the timing of our plants and animals unit.
Can I rewrite my own PE’s using the 3 dimensions? While it’s perfectly fine to supplement the current PE’s with an additional practice, or tackle another cross-cutting concept during instruction, we as a science team have decided against rewriting PE’s. As students switch schools within our district, we want to ensure that they all have equal exposure to the standards—and that may not happen if our science teachers are all on different pages.
What else might change in my NGSS instruction? Because the NGSS encourages science teachers to work alongside the students as they begin “sense-making,” I may restructure the order of my lessons within a unit. Previously, I introduced vocabulary on day one of a new unit; now, I may introduce our phenomena, and sit back while students attempt to explain the phenomena. On day one, I may even give them tools to investigate, similar to a lab experiment, which I normally would have waited until the end of our unit to do. This will allow students to necessitate the vocabulary that I will eventually give them. This mirrors the 5-E Model of Instruction, a model well-suited to the NGSS.