This weekend I was working with a teacher preparing for the first week of school. This teacher has been thinking a lot about three-dimensional instruction and the vision articulated in A Framework for K-12 Science Education since his state adopted new state standards based on the Framework. Before his state adoption, he had consistently kicked off the school year with a demo embedded below. This coaching moments blog focuses on a teacher’s evolving understanding and road to expertise as he translates the Framework vision into classroom teaching and learning.
“The mind is entertained by the unusual, the different, and the new.”
Andy Puddicombe, Headspace
On the first day of school in this teacher’s district, students only spent about 20 minutes in each period. He loved how curious and interested students were in the discrepant event embedded above. It just felt right to him as a great way to kick off the year in a science classroom. Last year, he had started learning more about the science and engineering practices with his new state adoption. He noticed the mention of phenomena and use of observations as a foundation to begin the sensemaking process embedded throughout the elements of the science and engineering practices in appendix f of the Next Generation Science Standards. With this new understanding, he added a focus on observations and inferences to his first activity with the goal of supporting students in being able to make careful, accurate and complete observations of phenomena in order to engage in the science and engineering practices. (Read more about his first iteration of the activity here).
Since last fall, this teacher has evolved his understanding even further about the role of phenomena in a three-dimensional classroom. This weekend our conversations included a-ha moments about how phenomena in this new Framework vision have many essential attributes. They are engaging and evoked curiosity in kids (the gut feeling he experienced for years with this kick-off activity). Phenomena empower students by becoming a rich context for their own questions (careful, complete, and accurate observations of phenomena increase the probability for good questions). Phenomena are the context for both the scientist and the engineer because they can be explained with science ideas. This last attribute, the science ideas needed to explain the phenomenon, was the new understanding that this teacher wanted to add to the activity this year. He wanted his students to start the year understanding how phenomena and their questions would drive learning in this classroom, and how phenomena will be the context for learning because we need science to explain them (and answer the questions we generated). His evolving understanding of the role of phenomena can be evidenced in his iteration of this kick-off activity, from fun engaging event to a trajectory for the year and an establishment of the culture of learning in this classroom:
“It is the phenomenon plus the student-generated questions about the phenomenon that guide the learning and teaching”
Using Phenomena in the NGSS resource from Achieve
In our conversations, we referred often to the resource linked above to deepen our understanding of phenomena and their critical role in the new vision for science education. Coaching conversations using classroom experiences and third-point references and resources have resulted in this evolution of understanding. How have you changed your thinking about phenomena and its focus in your classroom?
The NGSSblogs project is an initiative created by the Multi-Tools Online Community (MTOC) facilitators to encourage teacher reflection and collective conversation around the Next Generation Science Standards. The goal of this community is to change the culture of science education by providing a space for educators to learn, connect and share as well as to provide opportunities for teachers to lead from the classroom. There is not an instruction manual on how to implement the Next Generation Science Standards, but there are thousands of science teachers who can play a central role in transforming science teaching and learning and creating a path for translating the Next Generation Science standards into instruction. The Multi Tools Online Community seeks to centralize these voices and connect these educators with one another to work together from a common language of the NGSS with a common vision of advancing student science achievement. The pillars of the MTOC community: Reflection, Relationships, Resources:
- Collect, create, and curate resources for NGSS implementation
- Encourage and empower teacher leadership from the classroom through active participation in this global community and building both online and face to face relationships.
- Support reflection that leads to educator professional growth.
The first project of the MTOC is to focus on the reflection pillar of our community. We are promoting the practice of reflection through writing and sharing blogs around NGSS, science teaching and learning, and professional learning. Through blogging, teachers are telling their stories, sharing their voice, and carving out the path for NGSS implementation. We have been inspired by reading the blogs of other educators working to learn about and implement the Next Generation Science Standards. We are launching a campaign to add more bloggers to our family and encourage more educators to join in this reflection by reading blogs and providing feedback to our bloggers.
We need your help.
- Do you know of any educators who might be willing to and join share a blog post? Here is an invitation to take the leap and reap the benefits of reflection around classroom teaching and learning http://bit.ly/1qHJe5V Please share this invitation with any educators you would like to nominate to participate in this initiative.
- Do you know any educators who would be willing to read and provide feedback to our bloggers by posting comments? Here is a link to our @NGSSblogs Twitter account and #NGSSblogs hashtag as well as our NGSS Peer Learning Network Google Community. Educators can read and provide feedback to bloggers. Educators not quite ready to blog themselves can become part of the community by reading and commenting on blogs. New and existing bloggers can support others by providing feedback.
- Are you an educator who uses blogging as a vehicle for reflection and professional growth? We need your help to encourage other bloggers as well as to develop supports for providing feedback to our NGSS bloggers with the goal of moving their thinking and learning forward. Would you consider taking a minute to respond to our brief 3 question Google survey? http://goo.gl/forms/NIrWkPtOLK
To transform science education, we need more than just a set of standards that capture a vision. We need stakeholder voice to drive and sustain the work needed to create STEM classrooms that prepare students for a successful future. We need you help- please support our NGSSblogs project by sharing our invitation, supporting our bloggers, or sharing our thoughts around blogging through our survey.
We would love to have your voice in our community. This community is for all educators and educational stakeholders (not just for science teachers :D). Please contact us for more information:
Trish Shelton @tdishelton or @NGSSblogs
NGSS PLN Google Plus Community