Our First Day

Background

“Teacher Learning is interwoven with student learning”  This is a core belief from the Kentucky Teacher Leadership Framework that is the driver behind our Making Thinking Visible  partnership.  With the goal of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, we started our discussions with the question:

When considering our past “first days” of our classes that focus on the nature of science, how does the new vision in the NGSS include how science works or the Nature of Science (NGSS Appendix h)?

The NGSS

A  key element of NGSS alignment is 3 Dimensional Learning.  The vision of the NGSS describes student learning as sensemaking where “students are, over multiple years of school, actively engaged in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen the understanding of the core ideas.” (Framework p. 10).  That sensemaking can also be described as the ability for students to connect empirical evidence to core ideas and crosscutting concepts to make sense of phenomena.  Empirical evidence is defined as information acquired by observation or experimentation that is recorded and analyzed.

Pre-NGSS, we often started our discussions at the beginning of the semester with a focus on observation and inference.  We may have even checked to see that students could explicitly define and describe these terms and differentiate between them.  In the NGSS era, observations are serving as the foundation of empirical evidence gathered, then reasoned, and finally communicated in an explanation of phenomena.  Using this understanding, we decided to focus on observation and inference but under the umbrella of gathering information that we can record, analyze, and then communicate an understanding of the natural world.  Our target was

Careful observation, attention to detail, and consideration of validity and reliability are important when acting and thinking like a scientist.

We didn’t just want students to know this, we wanted them to experience it and understand the importance of observations in understanding the world, and also in practicing science.  In addition, we wanted them to begin to see that it is evidence, not just answers, that we will value in this class.

Student Learning

This is a quick demonstration performed by the teacher where students are asked to make observations of a phenomenon.  


 

Teacher Learning

One of the outcomes of this experience that I did not see coming initially and used as a teachable moment was students confronting the bias that they bring into an experience, and why confronting this bias was important in a science classroom where empirical evidence is king.

Post ReflectionNGSS Brett Evidence

In NGSS Appendix h, The Nature of Science, there is a discussion of a quote in the Framework “Epistemic knowledge is knowledge of the constructs and values that are intrinsic to science. Students need to understand what is meant, for example, by an observation, a hypothesis, an inference, a model, a theory, or a claim and be able to distinguish among them” (NRC, 2012, page 79). The discussion in the appendix goes on to point out that the Framework quote above presents concepts and activities important to understanding the nature of science as a complement to the practices imbedded in investigations, field studies, and experiments. In other words, an understanding of the Nature of Science and how science works is necessary for students to engage in the practices and 3-dimensional learning.  This learning experience and discussion serves as the springboard to a series of experiences to help students understand:

  • Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence  
  • Scientific Knowledge is Open to Revision in Light of New Evidence

 

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Collective Wisdom

Fotosearch_k19828896Image credit: (c) aksakalko http://www.fotosearch.com

The Need…

One of the many benefits of being a connected educator is the end to isolation.  According to studies by Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, teachers spend only about 3% of their teaching day collaborating with colleagues.  Lack of time to collaborate with colleagues has consistently been reported as one of the top 2 challenges in teacher’s daily work.  Considering these statistics, it is no surprise that in our opening #NGSSchat on Goals for the New Year, collaboration was a top trend.  I loved this tweet shared by a member of the #NGSSchat PLN, DIane Johnson @MDHJohnson pictured below in response the the question:

What support do you need to achieve your 2016 classroom goals?

Collective WIsdom

Collective Wisdom paired with Reflection continues to drive my professional growth.  I agree with Diane in that what educators report they need are models and examples to enact the kind of transformative change envisioned in the Framework and NGSS.

The Plan…

I am blessed to be involved in many collaborations that continue to support the development of my capacities which, in turn, support my students.  In addition, I have adopted a classroom thought partner.  In this partnership, we will work to coach each other to strengthen classroom practice and implement new instructional models around the NGSS and 21st Century Learning.  As we navigate this semester, we will be sharing our classrooms through blog posts in a thread called

Making Thinking Visible

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Our hope is that by sharing our classrooms and the thinking behind instructional and assessment decisions, we will be able to connect and receive feedback from others as well as contribute to the national science education conversation.

Grade- Level Specific #NGSSchat Opportunities

#NGSSchat provides support to deepen participant understanding of the #NGSS that can then be leveraged to implement the standards to transform teaching and learning. A primary goal of this chat has been to provide opportunities for learning and sharing through conversation around the vision captured in the Framework for K12 Science Education “that students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in science and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of each field’s disciplinary core ideas”

The #NGSSchat PLN is excited about providing a forum to continue those K12 conversations around the research-grounded NGSS and Framework to improve science teaching and learning.

We are also excited to launch a new series of grade-level specific chats during the hour leading up to #NGSSchat.

Mary Starr @starrscience and Kathy Renfrew @KRScienceLady have launched and elementary NGSS chat #elNGSSchat .  This chat focuses on K – 5 #NGSS discussions and takes place from 8 – 9 ET on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month prior to #NGSSchat.

Grade-level chats for Middle School and High School educators and those that support them will begin on October 15 at 8:30 PM ET.  These chats will last 30 minutes and take place on the 3rd Thursday of the month just before #NGSSchat.  The Middle School chat will use the hashtag #msNGSSchat and the High School chat will use the hashtag #hsNGSSchat .

Grade level

These grade-level chats will provide opportunities for more specific and personalized discussions around the #NGSS as well as a rich network of support for implementation.

Please join us!

 

Science for All Students

“The overarching goal of our framework for K-12 science education is to ensure by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science; possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues to their daily lives; are able to continue to learn about science outside of school; and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, including (but not limited to) careers in science, engineering and technology.”

(A Framework for K12 Science Education, NRC 2012)

The (Carnegie/IAS) Commission found that far too few students in the United States received high-quality instruction in mathematics and science, and subsequently, the nation was falling behind many countries in these areas.”

(The Opportunity Equation, Carnegie Corporation of New York 2009)

 PIC NGSS for all Students

When we look at these two quotes together, we see a need and the vision for the Next Generation Science Standards; We see an opportunity to empower students.  The vision is clear, all students need a rich, rigorous and engaging science curriculum so they can have access to opportunity.  The path to mitigating the disparities that exist for access to this vision is not as straightforward; NGSS presents the goal of a rigorous set of standards to prepare students for full participation in a globally connected world plus the challenge (and blessing) of a steady increase of student diversity in classrooms across our nation.   For this reason, our virtual Professional Learning Network of educators and partners organized a virtual book study to join people together who are passionate about the NGSS as the great equalizer in Science education.  We were excited to use the book  NGSS for All Students  by Okhee Lee, Emily Miller and Rita Januszyk to guide our study.  Stephen Pruitt, Andres Henriquez, Joe Krajcik, and Helen Quinn also contributed chapters to this book.  The dialogue, learning and sharing using this book provided support for shifting instruction to make science accessible to all students and prepare them for college, career and life. This blog describes some of my take-aways from the study that I will use to inform the instructional and assessment design in my classroom for the 2015-16 school year.

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Engagement through the Practices

The current research on how students learn clearly indicates that students need to be engaged in doing science whether than just hearing about it, figuring out as opposed to knowing about.  This “doing” science, however is different from hands-on inquiry.  The Science and Engineering practices of the NGSS involve both knowledge of the practice itself as well as the ability to demonstrate the skills of a scientist.  It is truly acting and  thinking like a scientist.  Supporting students in that thinking allows science to be a great equalizer by building on student interest and actively engagement that is both hands-on and minds-on. “What the research tells us is that students learn science best when they are deeply engaged in the practices of science and engineering, and apply these practices over multiple years to develop a set of disciplinary core ideas and connections between those ideas across science disciplines (crosscutting concepts).” –Helen Quinn  Practices are the vehicle for the deep understanding of science ideas.

My goal:  As I design classroom learning, I will carefully choose phenomena and design problems to enable opportunities for students to confront misconceptions, to raise and seek answers to questions they find important, and have a need to engage and persist in the learning.  As students act and think like scientists to figure out phenomena or solve problems through engagement in the practices, they are incorporating science ideas and concepts into their personal way of looking at the world, leading to deep understanding through this 3-dimensional learning.

Science Talk

Four foundational areas of capacity development that are critical for academic success are outlined in NGSS for All Students: language, analysis and reasoning, representation and symbolization, and social and emotional capacity.  Science Talk or “discourse-laden science practices” provide opportunities to stretch vocabulary, distill and clarify thinking for communication, and benefit from the modeling and public thinking of  peers to move forward the learning of all students.

My goal:  Provide regular opportunities and scaffolding for the practice of discourse “Science Talk” in my classroom.  This will require particular attention to building a class culture that supports risk-taking, self-regulation, persistence, and belief in self.  These aspects of learning can be best realized in a classroom climate that is not focused on who is sharing the “right” or “wrong” answer, but on who is sharing evidenced-based thinking to advance the thinking and shared understanding of the group. A critical element of this collective conversation will be supporting students in providing evidence-based feedback through critique.  The end-goal is full participation by all students in science talk where students have the right and responsibility to contribute and a valued perspective and experience to share.

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Questioning

Questions serve as the “breadcrumbs” that support students’ journey and the need to engage in the next evidence-gathering investigation or experience.  I will use questioning as the center of our learning experience, from the driving question that frames the unit and the story as the students work to make sense of phenomena or develop solutions to problems, to the daily questions that draw on student funds of knowledge and encourage making thinking visible.  I will use questions to make crosscutting concepts more explicit in the classroom because those are the thinking tools that empower students and add to their confidence.  I will use questioning to support students in developing original conceptual models that as the unit progresses to support students in challenging that model when needed to encourage revisions and evolving understanding.  Instead of planning the knowledge I will give students, I will plan the questions I will ask them.

All students should have the opportunity to experience a learning atmosphere built for their success and exposure to the world of science in a methodology that engages, inspires and empowers them as visioned in The Framework.  All students should have equal opportunity for adult success.  Classrooms who use the NGSS standards to guide instruction and assessment while focusing on equity  are grounded in the best research about how students learn. The Next Generation Science Standards guide educators on the path to science literacy based on extensive research to assure all students are prepared for the next step of their choosing.  Even if you are not in an NGSS-adopted state, you can use this research on how students best learn science in your classroom.  This will require an understanding of the NGSS, the translating of NGSS into instruction and assessment using tools and strategies, and the opportunity to try these new tools and receive feedback.

Join the Conversation

First Steps

Use the guidance provided on how to engage students from all backgrounds with the NGSS found in Appendix D and the Case Studies which provide examples of effective classroom strategies.  All students have the ability to learn science, however their level of development of scientific literacy depends on their classroom experiences.  Read about the research based vision for the NGSS in A Framework for K12 Science Education, NRC 201.  Visit the NGSS website at http://www.nextgenscience.org/ and the NGSS @NSTA Hub at http://ngss.nsta.org/ .  See the archived chats from the NGSS for All Students book study this past summer at http://www.ngsspln.com/equity.html

Join our Network

Consider connecting your self to other educators passionate about transforming science teaching and learning.  Visit our website hub at http://www.ngsspln.com/ and join us on Twitter and Google plus.  We join together for #NGSSchat the first and third Thursday of the month at 9 PM ET to support each other in learning and translating the NGSS.  You can even link to archived chats or watch the chat without having a Twitter account!  Learn more here.

Interested in becoming a Connected Educator– find support at http://www.connectthinklearn.com/connected-educator-support.html

ngsschat

Share to the Hashtag

We are excited to promote the #Sci4allSs hashtag as a place where educators are encouraged to share their classroom as they work to implement the Next Generation Science Standards.  Please consider sharing classroom stories via text tweets, pictures, and video.  You can also share questions you have about providing a quality science education to all students.  

To Parents… The WHY, HOW, WHAT of the Shelton Class

There is only one success:  To be able to spend your life in your own way.

-Christopher Morley

Empowerment, Choice, Independence.  These are words I use to describe what I wish for my High School students; that when they leave us after twelve years of education, they are prepared for that Next Step of their choosing.

The challenge for me is that even though the end goal is clear, students arrive to our classroom to begin the journey with very different experiences and knowledge.  How can we support all students in reaching their goals?  How can science be the great equalizer?

The Why…

Scientific literacy is necessary for every adult to live a successful life.  In this globally connected society, information is literally available at our fingertips.  When we can evaluate information and  weigh available evidence, we are empowered when making important choices.  These choices impact our health and our families and enable to participate as citizens by making informed decisions.  In addition, employability in the modern world requires collaboration, decision-making, problem-solving and communication skills as well as the ability to respond to changing circumstances.  Using the standards to drive our classroom instruction and assessment  means we are using current research on how students best learn science as well incorporating the 21st Century skills that employers want.  The Next Step requires scientific literacy and 21st Century skills; the NGSS standards provide a path to achieve a vision of student independence, empowerment, and choice.

The How…

WIth the standards as our guide, our classroom learning will focus on students gathering, reasoning and communicating evidence-based thinking in a variety of formats and through a variety of vehicles.  Students will use the practices of scientists, leverage thinking tools, and use the core ideas of science and engineering to explain their world or solve problems.  This focus on “figuring things out” as opposed to collecting facts told to them leads to deep understanding because students are interested and engaged in the learning that focuses on their questions and curiosities.

pic Thinking

The What…

Our students will make their thinking visible through products that serve as evidences of NGSS learning.  We need your support and feedback about our products to move us forward.  Our “thinking products” will include explanations, models, and arguments shared through multiple vehicles like video, speaking, writing, and screencast.  Your feedback about our products and evidence-based communications will help prepare us for the Next Step. Please follow our class story on Twitter at @BCHSstory and through our website at https://bchsshelton.wordpress.com/ and share your feedback and our products!

PIC Power of Video

Image credit: http://success8760.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Power-of-video-infograph.png

This blog framework was inspired by the Ted Talk: How Great Leaders Inspire Action and the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Classroom Commentary and Resources

Communicating the WHY, HOW and WHAT with classroom partners (students and parents) is essential to successful teaching and learning.  Here are some resources we use to communicate our WHY:

Next Generation Science Standards Q and A: Fostering Science Learning to Last a Lifetime

http://www.nsta.org/docs/NGSSParentGuide.pdf

NGSS@NSTA Hub

http://ngss.nsta.org/parent-q-and-a.aspx

The 10 SKills Employers Most Want in 2015 Graduates by Susan Adams/ Forbes Staff

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/11/12/the-10-skills-employers-most-want-in-2015-graduates/print/

Why the Science Standards

http://www.nextgenscience.org/case-next-generation-science-standards

Promoting Reflection through Community: PLN- We need your Help!

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.  

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

tdishelton@gmail.com

NGSS PLN Google Plus Community

NGSSPLN.com

NGSS 3 -Dimensional Learning: Hands-on Minds-on Science

“The more hands on the experience, the more excited students will be about the learning.  The more minds-on the experience, the deeper the understanding will become.”

How do we design experiences for students that are both hands-on and minds-on?  The Next Generation Science Standards provides us with a beautiful vision for science education for all students obtained by engaging in the Science and Engineering practices and applying Cross-cutting Concepts to gain an understanding of Disciplinary Core Ideas.  This 3- Dimensional Learning (the blending of the three dimensions of Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts driving both the instructional progression and the assessment) is the most significant way that the NGSS differs from prior standards and is thus a challenge for many teachers.  In the NGSS, the 3 -Dimensional Learning in the classroom leads to proficiency demonstrated in the Performance Expectations. This blog uses a learning progression around Performance Expectations LS1-2 and LS1-3 as a context for sharing thinking around how NGSS 3- Dimensional Learning can provide students with hands-on minds-on experiences that lead to engagement and understanding.

Urinary PEs

This summer, I transitioned from focusing on understanding the Next Generation Science Standards to focusing on understanding how to translate the NGSS into student learning within my classroom.  I developed a unit, Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology: Systems, Subsystems, and Balance: Conceptualizing a Single System, to serve as the foundation for my course and the start of our NGSS road together.  I designed the learning progression around this core principles:

  • All NGSS aligned instruction must have students working to explain a phenomenon or solve a problem.

 Joe Tweet

  • Understanding develops as learners make new connections between their prior knowledge and the new experience. Understanding is built over time with each new experience.  This evolution is ongoing and flexible.

Making the unit’s center an evidence-based explanation of a phenomenon and student’s building/revising understanding of the science needed to communicate this explanation over time is key to designing a unit storyline that exemplifies 3-dimension learning while providing coherence between learning experiences. The progressions of these learning experiences involved a deliberate planned iteration of:

Exploration- learner actively constructing understanding

Reflection- making internal connection as well as external sharing of the experience through discussion and feedback

Extension– transferring understanding to a new context/ cements the experience and leads to deep understanding of the core ideas

The Exploration is Hands-on. The Reflection is minds-on. The Extension gives students the opportunity to transfer knowledge gained from these stages to a new context leading to deep understanding.

Over the next month, I will share a blog reflection around how each of the critical elements listed above were integrated into my unit plan. My hope is that by making my thinking public and sharing my unit, I can receive feedback from the Science education community so I can grow in my capacity to design NGSS experiences for my students.  I also hope that my reflections may support others on their NGSS journey and contribute to the collective conversation and effort to shift science education to prepare our students for career, college and life.

The framework and NGSS can provide us with a beautiful vision.  It is the work of classroom teachers and those that support classroom learning that makes the vision come to fruition.  Teachers sharing classroom stories and practical applications of the standards are the impetus that leads to improved science practice for all.

Please support my growth by providing feedback on my unit and my blog reflections and consider sharing your classroom stories, instructional and assessment designs, and reflections around the NGSS with me and the NGSS PLN so you can move our learning and thinking.

Thank you

Trish