Thinking the NGSS Way

Are you making the transition to using Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the guiding document in your science classroom? Making the transition to thinking the NGSS way may definitely be a change. The document asks educators to engage students in rigorous thinking enabling them to share arguable evidence while engaged in the science and engineering practices. Perhaps it is a new thought process for your teaching practices, but if you are a self contained elementary teacher, then you are very used to teaching this way in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The standards in those disciplines have been asking teachers to challenge students by engaging them in rigorous thinking and having them share evidence of their findings. To learn more about “how to” read the document, use this link.

I really enjoy how the NGSS document has been constructed. The Performance Expectations state the goals of the standards by embedding the Crosscutting Concepts, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and the Science and Engineering Practices within them. An additional tool educators can rely on are the evidence statements found in the NGSS document.

These evidence statements might be described as the “unpacking” of the Performance Expectations (PEs), which describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of an area of instruction. Because the goal of instruction is not to “teach” the PEs, but rather to give students rich experiences that would allow them to meet or exceed what is written in the PEs after classroom experiences. Most importantly, tasks should focus on developing students’ three-dimensional understanding and practice in meaningful ways. In assessment and especially in instruction, varied and rich experiences should be developed that may differ from the exact performance expectations, but remain congruent with the intent and expectations of the NGSS.

Evidence statements were not intended to be used as a sequential list. They give educators information about what to look for in student performance at the end of instruction. Students might demonstrate the ‘last’ piece of an evidence statement (e.g., the ‘connections’ of a model, ‘reasoning and synthesis’ of an argument) as their primary communication. Teachers can then look for other parts of the evidence statements in what students do. For example, if students provide an argument with reasoning and synthesis, the claim, evidence, and evaluation may be embedded in the reasoning and synthesis, rather than being called out separately.

I like the Next Generation Science Standards document. Becoming more familiar with it and learning how to use it, is a process. I’m up for the challenge of adding it to my learning curve. I bet you are too!!

Composite Units and Fractions

In my previous blog, I talked about a composite unit, what it is and how it plays an important role in many different aspects of students’ construction of mathematics. One of these areas is fractions. So how does the student’s ability to take a number as something that is countable affect their understanding of fractions?… Continue Reading

Meet the Children Where They Are: Episode 4

Narrator:  “Although this series makes this interaction seem like a long period of time, it was actually only about 3 minutes…well, maybe 5!  Time flies when you’re having fun, okay?  Anyway, can Bob count two hidden piles of rocks?  Let’s get back to the action.” (Math research associate narrates…) RA:  So it was the bottom… Continue Reading

Episode 28 | Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Its Role in Teaching

Joining Chris in the studio this week is Paul Reimer, a Sr. Researcher at the AIMS Center working with our Early Mathematics studies. Paul is also a student in the Michigan State University Doctoral Program, studying the effects of teacher beliefs on student learning. We discuss his studies and how they connect with our work here at the AIMS Center.

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A Heart for Professional Learning

Who do you rely on professionally? I could name a long list of people, places, journals, periodicals, podcasts, and websites, but most recently I listened to my colleague Chris Brownell’s recent podcast with Director of Special Education Studies at Fresno Pacific University, Megan Chaney. Megan is doing her doctoral research on teachers dispositions and she… Continue Reading

“Play is the Answer to how Anything New Comes About” – Piaget

As the early math team moves forward on the work we are doing, the concept of practicality is an issue we are addressing. One-on-one interviews with the children have taught us a wealth of information about young children’s mathematics, but it is not a realistic structure that early childhood teachers have time to do in… Continue Reading

Which is Bigger?

Which is bigger 5/6 or 7/8? If the answer isn’t popping into your head in seconds, you are not alone. Fractions are one of the most misunderstood concepts among both young and old in mathematics.  They don’t seem to follow the same rules as whole numbers.  Many of us purposely never work with fractions at… Continue Reading