The movie The Never Ending Story captivated me as a kid. A young child borrowed an old book from a bookstore and stowed away in his school’s attic rather than going to class. From the moment the child opened the book, the story began to unfold: Through the text and illustrations, the young boy was transported to new places and needed to work through problems, experience trials to gain understanding, and overcome challenges before he could move forward in his learning. Keeping an open mind allowed him to reflect on all that had come before. The boy’s book was a new portal to learning, reflection, and exploration.
Professional Readers—Professional Learners
In the real world, books have the power to launch the same sort of exploration the boy experienced in the movie. But what’s not the same is that books now look very different, using electronics to transport readers to new worlds. Professional education books have traditionally been a bit behind the trade book format for the overall variety of presentation strategies; but that’s about to change. A new interactive e-book recently released will help transport professional educators into a learning environment that will engage them as much as the young boy was engaged in reading his book.
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has been a long-time publisher of education materials that provide professional development to teachers to improve science education, instruction, and opportunities for students. NSTA has taken the next step by developing a new interactive e-book focusing on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and assisting users in opening a new portal to their own understanding, reflection, and learning experiences. This e-book joins other interactive e-books previously produced by NSTA that specifically relate to disciplinary core ideas.
Discover the NGSS: A New Approach to Learning
Discover the NGSS: Primer and Unit Planner, along with the other enhanced e-books, is described as follows: “Rich with gorgeous color photography, dynamic enhancements, and interactive features that enable you to learn, share, and explore, NSTA’s highly interactive enhanced e-books provide a professional learning experience that is both engaging and inspiring.”
Having had an opportunity to preview and interact with the e-book, I know it’s even more. Because this type of interactive learning is new, many of us have not yet experienced what is possible when one engages with a book that uses animations, simulations, and video content to visually present content. These interactive components draw readers into the contents, allowing for a visual and auditory exploration of concepts around understanding and using the NGSS. Features of the interactive e-book, include:
- In-depth learning experiences developed around the content, structure, and purpose of the Next Generation Science Standards, which help users dive deeper into the NGSS and better understand the components as well as purpose.
- Content presented through concrete examples in both text and visual formats, which enhances understanding.
- Embedded pop-up review questions and assessments allowing for content review and ongoing formative assessment of learning.
- Interactive activities that allow readers to apply the information presented and connect their understanding of the information to the scenarios.
- A module format focused on exploration of the three dimensions of the NGSS; integration of the three dimensions into performance expectations; and application of readers’ knowledge and understanding through the design of planned units of study using the unit planner.
- A Unit Planner with technology that that facilitates unit planning with grade-specific drop-down menu.
Books are meant to be shared, and this e-book is no different. While the content is useful for individual teachers, its delivery strategy makes it especially useful for those who wish to engage in professional development with professional learning communities. The collaborative nature of developing units through the unit planner is an integral part of the overall experience. Because it allows users to create units in an online environment, the e-book is dynamic and allows educators to differentiate their lessons, units, and organization for instruction. While Discover the NGSS has no luck dragons or oracles as does The Never Ending Story, they both feature opportunities to explore the unknown and be reflective of one’s own learning. One simply needs to jump in and imagine the unimaginable while discovering the NGSS!
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.