What will we do, where will we go with the NGSS?

On Tuesday, April 9, the final Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new set of voluntary, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards for K—12 science education, were released. For more information on this document and the release of the NGSS, please read the press release.  Also, if you haven’t yet downloaded your copy of the NGSS, PDFs of the standards are available and can be viewed based on topic or on disciplinary core idea.

As a participant at the National Conference on Science Education which was held in San Antonio earlier this month, there was much excitement and enthusiasm around the release of the NGSS which occurred the day before the conference started.  Prior to the conference, the Council for State Science Supervisors held their annual meeting and were having ongoing discussions about the standards, the National Science Education Leadership Association had a day long Professional Development Institute dedicated to the NGSS, and other organizations and associations, as well as commercial companies were buzzing about the release of the document.

The excitement was obvious and the enthusiasm contagious.  Conversations in sessions and throughout the different venues could be overheard as science educators were discussing the release of the document, the changes made since the previous draft, and the inevitable question of “what next?”

Which brings us to the question – “what next?” Now that the standards have been released, it is only the beginning of the journey. Dare I say this is where all leaders in all schools need to look directly into the faces of the educators they work with and say “engage” (sorry needed to go there with the whole Next Generation thing)?

But even with the bad reference, it is a good question – how do we engage all science educators and other school leaders in the discussion and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.  Everyone in the school district, corporation, business or informal setting can find a stake in and participate in the development and dissemination of resources as well as the implementation of this document.

An example of such connections that can be made from the NGSS to the English Language Arts and Mathematics Common Core Documents is shown in a Venn Diagram developed by Tina Cheuk of Stanford and focused on Relationships and Convergences Found in NGSS and CCSS ELA and Math.  This PDF was included as one of the recommended resources in the most recent issue of the Leaders Letter.  I personally plan to utilize this document in my methods classes next fall and also share it with colleagues who teach math methods and language arts methods classes.  We work on the idea of integration of subject areas already, assign a project for all seniors that requires the development of a cross curricular unit and discuss how integration can help topics be relevant and maximize instructional time.  Therefore it is my belief that this graphic is a great way to help my college students and colleagues see the connections.

NSTA has also begun to engage science educators with resources for the NGSS and has been for several months.  They have developed a guide to help science educators lead study groups to review the draft standards. Take a look at the slides from this session and download our guide. See also the

So back to the question, posed, what will you as a science educator do to engage all of your colleagues in the implantation of the NGSS?

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