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My Take on The Next Generation Science Standards - Part One

Hello Friends,

I am currently in the middle of a Next Generation Science Standards class and I thought I would share some of the things that I have been learning.  I am truly excited about this change in the way that we teach science. My blog quote "If they cannot learn the way we teach, then teach the way they learn" aligns perfectly with the goals of the NGSS. The switch from content based teaching to hands-on learning is amazing. With the NGSS, students are allowed to test out a hypothesis in a safe environment. They are allowed to fail because failing is learning, too. Questioning the reasons that we fail can lead to more investigating which (hopefully) leads to a correct conclusion. The NGSS encourages kids to write, draw, create models, charts, and graphs. These experiences can become part of our ELA and Math time which causes our curriculum map to become more well-rounded and we are not stuck in a "We can only do this during our science block" frame of mind.

The NGSS encourages kids to ask questions and explore. The teacher is there as a facilitator, and the old "I talk. You listen" teaching has been replaced with a "Here are the materials. Use them and we will talk later" style. This You Tube shows this technique in Suzan Locke's first grade class. They are learning about plants.....It's short and worth the time to watch. :)

http://www.wcax.com/story/25341070/sunday-science-changing-science-standards

 There are 3 dimensions to the NGSS - Science & Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.  It took me awhile to wrap my brain around what each one of these actually meant. Simply stated, science & engineering practices are the hands-on elements. Giving kids an opportunity to explore, learn, and conclude in their own way; rather in ways they are told to learn is such an exciting change for me. Our old way of thinking have given kids the knowledge first; then asked them to use the scientific method to come up with a conclusion. NGSS allows children to explore FIRST; even without the background knowledge. Children are allowed to form their own conclusions before background knowledge is shared. One teacher shared that instead of showing her power point presentation FIRST, she showed it AFTER her students had a chance to explore. She found that the discussions she had with her students become more lively when her students were given the experience before the knowledge. I read this quote in a Scholastic article: "If you are going to learn about worms and you read the text first, you have removed the wonder." For me, this is going to be a challenge. I have always introduced the topic first and THEN had my kids explore.... Giving this up will definitely be a challenge!

Crosscutting concepts allow students (and teachers) to bring in all aspects of science ...
1.  patterns 2. cause & effect 3. scale, proportion, & quantity 4. systems 5. energy & matter 6. structure & function 7. stability & change).

An example of a cross curricular idea was shared by a teacher/student in my class... It involves the relationship between speed and energy. In physical science we teach that the more energy a person or machine has, the faster it moves. This can also be applied to life science... The more energy plants receive from the sun, the faster the plant grows. This simple comparison illustrates how concepts can flow from one to the other. 

The NGSS also encourages teachers to ask questions that cross all subjects and core ideas. Studying plants can cross into social studies when we discuss how the changes in seasons affect how people and animals live. It can cross into math when we count the days from when leaves go from green to orange. It can cross into ELA when we read non-fiction text and write in journals about our observations. It can cross into technology when we research the types of plants that grow in our community.

Click on the screen shot below to find a WONDERFUL resource for building science lessons upon non-fiction text.

http://sciencenetlinks.com/collections/stem-and-common-core/


The disciplinary core ideas are the focus areas for each grade level. They are divided into 4 areas: physical science, life science, earth & space, and engineering, technology, & applications. In this link, you can click on your specific grade level and read the specific expectations for each core idea.

http://ngss.nsta.org/AccessStandardsByDCI.aspx

So.... this is a quick overview of what I have been learning. I will write more as I learn more.

Until next time,

Blessings,

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