We all have an opportunity to comment on the draft of the Next Generation Science Standards! The last date to comment on this draft is June 2nd, just days away. This is a busy time of year for teachers but we can contribute to the usefulness of the NGSS by reviewing and commenting using the survey provided on the NGSS website. I am going to lay out some of my thoughts on the standards for grades K-2, and hope that you will add your comments, either here or in the NSTA Learning Center Forum, in addition to using the survey. By reviewing this May draft of the standards we can contribute, at least in the areas where we feel comfortable.
I found it easier to have the “How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards” page open while I read through the standards. It also helped me to remember that the standards, called performance expectations, are made of three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts. In my first read I did not read through the “Foundation Boxes” where these dimensions are listed. But it really helped me to read them the second time I read through the K-2 NGSS. Take a look, join the discussion and when you are ready, give your feedback using the survey which will go to the state and other teams that will work on the next draft.
Click here to go to the Next Generation Science Standards website to see the May 2012 draft. Resources are also available on the NSTA Learning Center website (free registration for all). Two documents were particularly helpful for me:
The pdf on the NGSS website does not have page numbers but the one on the NSTA site does. The early childhood portion for grades K-2 is through pdf page 11, marked page 10 on the NSTA paginated version.
The bare-bones name doesn’t describe this document which offers a timeline, suggests questions to consider as you read and discuss the May 2012 draft of the NGSS, and includes the NGSS Matrix of Standards by Discipline and Grade Level (also available as a separate single-page document at the Learning Center).
The “How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)” document explains the layout but I still needed to look through the standards and then go back to the “How to Read” document again before I felt comfortable with the layout.
I look forward to discussions here and on the NSTA Learning Center’s forums. Here are a few of my thoughts after my first reading of the K-2 section of the draft NGSS, and without the benefit of talking it over with other educators. I offer them as a starting point and hope that you will correct any mistakes. (I label the Performance Expectations, Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts in each comment to make it easier to find what I’m commenting on.)
On the layout of the draft:
I find the format unifying. The connections to the Common Core Mathematics and English Language State Standards will make it easier to integrate the curriculum and see where teaching math and ELA concepts support the practice of science and engineering, and vice versa. It is helpful to have the Science and Engineering Practices listed with each draft standard (performance expectation). I can see how the practices are the foundation for what I teach. The Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts are also listed and I like not having to switch back and forth in a document to see how the different dimensions relate to each other and to my current curriculum.
Wishing preK was included:
The Science and Engineering Practices that are the foundation for many of the K-2 performance expectations contain the wording: “…in grades K-2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to…” The Framework acknowledged that “…the capacity of young children—from all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels— to reason in sophisticated ways is much greater than has long been assumed.” It seems to me that standards for preK could be included in this document.
Adding wording for “Experiencing the Natural World” as it relates to the Kindergarten standard, K.SPM Structure and Properties of Matter:
Although there is no performance expectation for Experiencing the Natural World, some of the standards, core ideas, and crosscutting concepts require a foundation of experience in nature. The standard K.SPM Structure and Properties of Matter section “d.” states: “Distinguish between opinions and evidence in determining whether objects in a given set occur naturally or are manufactured.” The Disciplinary Core Idea PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter states in part: “Matter can be described and classified by its observable properties (e.g., visual, aural, textural), and by its uses, and by whether it occurs naturally or is manufactured.” The Influence of Engineering, Technology and Science on Society and the Natural World states: “Every human-made product is designed by applying some knowledge of the natural world and is built by using natural materials…”
Children must have experience with the natural world to be able to distinguish what is natural and what is manufactured by people, and they must have knowledge of the natural world to be able to apply it when designing a product. I would like to see this experience explicitly listed somewhere in the NGSS.
Kindergarten performance expectation, K. WEA Weather
Several of my preK students have become “regulars” at recording the amount of rainfall in the rain gauge on the playground. This experience helps them construct a relationship between the presence of dark clouds and rain. They are beginning to understand that scientists make measurements to collect data. One 4-year-old asked me why the rain gauge does not have a “zero” to mark the bottom of the line of numbers on the gauge. This comment shows he knows that if you don’t have any, you have “zero” and that zero marks a starting point on a measurement tool. Young children can also notice patterns in clothing choices if they graph the number of people wearing shorts/sweaters/coats on a regular basis throughout the year. This data represents temperature changes that can be documented without using a thermometer.
I have a question about the K. WEA performance expectation. In part “d”, should kindergarteners “Analyze weather data to determine that some kinds of severe weather are more likely to occur than others in the local region”? I think it should be written without “severe,” as in: “Analyze weather data to determine that some kinds of weather are more likely to occur than others in the local region.” This would include all weather, severe or mild. This is not to avoid talking with young children about severe weather but because severe weather may not occur often enough to see any pattern.
I’d like the clarification statement for K. WEA Weather-d. to include a comparison between “normal precipitation” and “drought” as one of the examples of severe weather.
The Assessment Boundary limits this comparison to the students’ local region—very appropriate for young children to learn about their local region before learning about distant regions.
Is this wording awkward? Performance Expectation 1.SF Structure and Function-c
In performance expectation 1.SF Structure and Function-c, the wording “external inputs” seems awkward.
I wonder why only “external” body parts are part of this Disciplinary Core Idea LS1.A and “smell” and “taste” are not listed in along with “see” and “hear.”
In performance expectation 1.LS Light and Sound
Part “a”, “Investigate to describe that objects can be seen only when light is available to illuminate them,” states a difficult concept to teach. Is it more appropriate for older grades, second or third?
In performance expectation 1.PC Patterns and Cycles
I would like to see the Clarification Statements for Part “a” expanded a bit to include other events. For Part “a”, a caterpillar eating a leaf is an example of a quickly occurring natural event, and the life cycle of a butterfly is an example of a slower event. For Part “b”, the day and night cycle is a very appropriate example of a cycle that young children can easily observe.
In performance expectation 2. ECS
I would find it helpful to have the Clarification Statements specifically refer to how water as ice can move Earth materials. Ice is noted in the supporting Disciplinary Core Idea ESS2.C.
About 2.SPM Structure, Properties, and Interactions of Matter.
This performance expectation seems a little disjointed. Part “c”, “Provide evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot” is about the property of melting temperature, a specific property of matter, while Parts “a” and “d” are about properties in general. Also, Part “b” is about designing an object from a set of pieces, which may be written to help students build understanding that matter is composed of smaller pieces. If so, the Clarification Statement could reflect this.
Performance expectation 2. PP Pushes and Pulls
The Assessment Boundary for Part “a” and “b” could be even further spelled out for easier understanding: “Simultaneous pushes and pulls to be along a single line; pushes and pulls to be between objects in contact.” By mentioning only simultaneous pushes and pulls, it makes it seem that single pushes and pulls are not to be taught. I might say, “Limit assessment of simultaneous pushes and pulls to those that are along a single line—not in more than one line; pushes and pulls to be between objects in contact, not at a distance.” I’m being a little picky but this is a difficult topic to state simply.
I think it is very appropriate that the term “gravity” is not part of a Performance Expectation until third grade (3.IF Interactions of Forces) even though many children learn the term as early as preschool but with very limited understanding.
So those are my beginning thoughts. After I get to discuss the NGSS with other educators, such as yourself, I’ll fill out the survey—by June 2nd. I welcome your comments, and corrections. What do you think?
Is the format easy to understand?
What would help you understand the meaning more easily?
Are the concepts that you think young children should have some experience with in grades K-2 addressed in this draft?