Playing Our Part to Roll Out Next Generation Science Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a multi-state effort to create new education standards that are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. They were finalized in April of 2013. California is one state that has adopted the new standards and is beginning standard implementation rollouts at the district level now. The next proposed step as part of the NGSS implementation will come during the 2018-19 school year when the California Department of Education implements the science assessments aligned with the NGSS.

Heather Unger, one of our AIMS Professional Learning Division Facilitators, is a K-2 math coach in the Madera Unified School District in Madera, CA. She had the opportunity to help the K-1 teachers in the district get started with implementing NGSS.

According to Heather, “My district is transitioning slowly to the NGSS standards, but we are moving in the right direction. We have two district science coaches who are spearheading the effort to implement the standards. Although I am a K-2 Math coach, I was asked to be a part of an NGSS standard training session for K-1 teachers. I presented with a colleague and we decided to dress the part . It was a lot of fun as we reviewed how standards are read and each component of the standard: Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross-Cutting. We then had the teachers participate in a ‘5E lesson’ around one standard. The 5 Es each describes a phase of learning, each phase beginning with the letter E: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. The 5 Es allows students and teachers to experience common activities, to use and build on prior knowledge and experience, to construct meaning, and to continually assess their understanding of a concept. Teachers participated in all of the activities and walked away with easy-to-implement activities and supporting literature. Last year, 5th and 6th grade teachers participated in similar training. We are hoping 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teachers will also have the opportunity to participate in a similar training to get their feet wet and get excited about science!”

I liked to imagine a room full of collaborating teachers when Heather and her colleague helped the Madera K-1 teachers better understand the NGSS standards. It is exciting that they are building an understanding of the three-dimensional learning students will be involved in with the transition to these science standards. It takes time to learn and use new standards. What does the NGSS roll out look like in your school or district?

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