In the Thick of Science – Learning NGSS

I like NGSS, the content standards that lay out the expectations for what students need to accomplish in K-12 science. Becoming more familiar with them and learning how they fit best around curricula is a process. I am embarking on a journey that will definitely allow me to become very familiar with them and that is to align the AIMS science books to NGSS. What has your journey with NGSS been so far?

Are you transitioning to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) being the guiding content document for the science you teach in the classroom? Making the transition to thinking the NGSS way may definitely be a change and a challenge. The document is written so that the expectations on us as educators are that we engage students in rigorous thinking, so they can skillfully share arguable evidence while doing science. Is this a new thought process for you and how you teach science? My guess is that you have already been asking your students to work this way in English language arts and mathematics. The standards in those disciplines expect teachers to challenge students by engaging them in rigorous thinking and having them share evidence of their findings. Do you need an NGSS refresher? Here is a “how to” read the document explanation that helped me get started.

I find that I start with the Performance Expectations, which state the overarching goals of the standards, and I weave the Crosscutting Concepts, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Science and Engineering Practices within. Performance Expectations (PEs) describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of studying a specific content piece. Teachers will not want to have goals of “teaching” to the PEs in science, but rather to give students rich experiences that would allow them to meet or exceed what is written in the PEs. Most importantly, science investigations should focus on developing students’ well rounded “three-dimensional” knowledge, (Crosscutting Concepts, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and the Science and Engineering Practices) understanding, and practice in meaningful ways. This means having varied and rich experiences that differ from the exact PEs, but remaining congruent with the intent and expectations of the NGSS.

Becoming more familiar with NGSS and learning how to best use it, is a process. I look forward to sharing the AIMS science book alignments very soon, and having the alignments help students achieve greater success in science. Join me on this journey and learn how NGSS is put together and how to effectively use it. Remember, a scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; they are one who asks the right questions. Sounds like NGSS to me!

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