Stephen Pruitt, vice president for content, research, and development for Achieve, Inc., gave teachers an engaging preview of the Next Generation Science Standards during his talk this afternoon. “We have incredible teachers in this country…that’s the reason [the NGSS] will go forward,” he maintains. He also emphasized that the NGSS are “for all students” because all students are “born investigators,” and noted that some Nobel prize winners are working on the committee to develop the new standards.
The new standards will emphasize that understanding builds over time, and they “don’t stop at just memorizing details,” but will require students to understand “the evidence of how something works,” such as cell division. He referred to the NGSS as “inquiry unpacked,” a term he said he’s not crazy about but admits is important because not all educators have a cohesive understanding of what inquiry is.
The NGSS will reflect that “math is part of the language of science” and will indicate to teachers “here’s where math is appropriate,” Pruitt explained. Cross-cutting concepts are key in the NGSS because “shouldn’t energy be the same regardless of which class you’re sitting in?”
He suggests teachers think about the NGSS outside of their classroom and school and “come together for what will be good for the students, not what will be good for me…I’m going to ask that you have an open mind.” He reminded everyone, “When was the last time that we got better by doing less?” He urged teachers to read the framework, if they haven’t yet done so, because the framework serves as a preview to what will be in the new standards.
When teachers in the audience expressed concerns about how the NGSS will be implemented in their states, Pruitt responded, “Make sure people are informed about this and build a base…You can lead from your classroom just like any policy leader can.”
Here’s what Terri Jones of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, had to say about this session.