Kicking off the school year… part 1

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).

asking Q progression with highlight

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?

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An Invitation to start a science blog focused on 3D Learning and/or the NGSS: Reflect, Connect, Share

My guess is that you became a science teacher because you love learning, you love working with kids, and you love science.  Loving science means you are probably a question-asker.

Today’s question:  “How do I grow as an educator and work to continually create improved classroom experiences to honor those students I love?

Today’s Answer:  Blogging

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This is an invitation to consider joining us in the #Sci4allSs  Blog Project taking place on Twitter at #Sci4allSs (Science for all students).

We would like to bring people together across states to share our thinking and learning around A Framework for K-12 Science Education and/or Next Generation Science Standards.  Implementation of this contemporary research will lead to great student achievement and progress towards the goal of new state and national 3D standards: depth of understanding through the three dimensions of science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.  We call this thinking and acting like a scientist. True integration of the 3 dimensions to explain phenomena and solve problems, will require a collaborative effort, collective conversation, and individual reflection.  Blogging is one way to support this effort.

Why should we blog?

Reflective Thinking

Blogging gives you a platform for reflective thinking (writing that we do for ourselves to think through things). This clarification of our thinking helps us improve our practice by what I call reflection into action.  My reflections always move me forward in some way to the next steps mode, leading to my personal professional growth.

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Collective Conversation

By sharing your blog, you are making your thinking visible to others which supports them on the path of understanding, inspires reflection and revision of thinking.  Sharing your blog enables you to get feedback, affirmation, and a new lens into your classroom from others.  When you read and comment on the blog posts of others, you are also gaining great ideas and resources to enhance your own understanding and curate creative and innovative ideas for your classroom.

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Getting Started Tips

Blogging is about the journey of reflection and collective conversation.  It is not about perfectionism.  Every teacher has amazing things to share from their experience as a learner and a classroom leader.  Please consider sharing any 3D/NGSS reflections.

Some sample ideas:

  • your classroom story
  • your ideas and reflections
  • resources you are finding useful in implementing the Framework or new standards.
  • how you are utilizing technology to teach the three dimensions.
  • your PLC or PLN story
  • responses to something you have read or heard or conversed around (like in #NGSSchat 😀 )
  • things you try that may or may not have worked
  • ANYTHING you would like to clarify thinking around.  If it helps you, it will help others.

Blog Posting Suggestions:

  • Create a blog site using platforms like WordPress.com or blogger.com
  • Create a blog post and send the url link to #Sci4allSs  and #NGSSchat on Twitter
  • Commit to trying to post your first blog (or first blog of 2019).
  • Commit to trying to comment and/or repost/retweet the blogs of others

Great website for teacher blogging tips

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/start-teacher-blog-tips-resources-matt-davis

Blogging is about being part of a conversation.  Please consider becoming part of this global conversation around great science teaching and learning. Educator voices need to be shared and heard as we work towards shifting science education and preparing students for this 21st Century world.  All stakeholders (educators, parents, students) need to have a seat at the table about translating NGSS into classroom instruction during implementation.  As professionals and stakeholders in NGSS implementation, sharing our teaching and learning reflections is key to advancing science education.

For a Blog Coach consider the National Blogging Collaborative.

Contact me for more information:

email: tdishelton@gmail.com

Twitter: @tdishelton

Blog:  tdishelton.wordpress.com

website: NGSSPLN.com

 

 

 

My heart is full…

Teaching in the 21st century is full of challenges. Grappling with new standards, working to meet the needs of ALL students, and preparing students for opportunities in a rapidly changing world. Innovations in the 21st century have provided options to make tackling these challenges easier. Through technology and a national focus on supporting teacher leaders, there are many new opportunities to build relationships, seek or provide support, and share and receive knowledge so educators can learn and grow professionally. These educator communities inspire me.
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I started this blog 5 years ago when I began to climb the NGSS mountain. I craved partnerships and networks on my road to expertise, and I wanted to reflect and document how these relationships were guiding my trajectory. I am full of appreciation for my mentors, partners and colleagues, especially the partnerships with the students in my classroom. Stories of these partnerships and my learning are sprinkled in past posts throughout this blog. Discussions and experiences continue to contribute to my professional growth and shape my thinking about science education today.

This is the best time in history to be a science educator! The energy and impacts of contemporary research on how kids learn can be seen and felt in classrooms throughout the nation. Every student has a right to a high-quality education. Educators and stakeholder are passionate about transforming classrooms to achieve the vision articulated in A Framework for K-12 Science Education, a collection of this contemporary research. This is more than a shift in thinking, this is a flip in how classrooms operate (thank you Okhee Lee for that great analogy). Transforming the way we teach science is complex and challenging. Partnerships, community, and networks are critical for success.

I am reviving this blog and committing myself to share highlights from the learning that I am blessed to experience as I work with educators throughout the US. Since I have transitioned from my own classroom to supporting classroom teaching and learning on a national scale, I embrace a responsibility to share the wonderful snapshots of classrooms, the tremendous work of teachers and those who support them, the new thinking and research on science education, and the tools and strategies and approaches that are making a difference. This blog will be a tapestry of classrooms, discussions, and people– all partners and stewards of science education.
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My heart is full. I am in awe of the passion and hard work I observe from teachers on a regular basis. I am so appreciative of the conversations I have with teachers, researchers, curriculum writers, and education advocates. I can give back and show my appreciation by sharing. Thank you for checking in on the journey.

Trish

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

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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.