Aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment with the NGSS and Framework

One of the big ideas from my teaching courses was “congruency”—an alignment of curriculum (What content and skills will you teach?), instruction (What learning activities will help students learn and use the content and skills?), and assessment (How will students demonstrate or show what they learned?). The featured articles in this month’s issue of Science Scope provide opportunities for teachers to learn more about how to align the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with student learning opportunities. As the editor suggests, now is a good time to take this new vehicle on a “test drive.”

A question that is on the mind of most science teachers is “What will my school and I have to change to meet the expectations in the new standards?” The author of the guest editorial Conceptual Shifts in the NGSS: Opportunities and Challenges describes seven shifts in thinking and the challenges and opportunities that are evolving. The editorial also has advice about how to approach the decision makers in your district or school to move toward implementation.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate writing in science (as noted in the Common Core State Standards), Cross-Disciplinary Writing: Scientific Argumentation, the Common Core, and the ADI Model describes the “Argument Driven Inquiry” (ADI) model that science teachers can use in student expository writing and argumentation. There are several graphics that describe the 8 stages of the model and their alignment with the CCSS. I suspect that many teachers already have students writing in class, and this model combines science, writing, and argumentation into a do-able, authentic process.

Similarly, English Language Arts and Science: A Shift Toward Student Success describes some of the commonalities between language arts and science: an understanding of vocabulary, questioning, making inferences, visualizing and connecting ideas, creating models, determining important ideas (comparing and contrasting), synthesizing information, and communicating. The authors show how language arts and science can be integrated in a topic about which students (and many adults) have misconceptions: the reasons for the seasons. The article includes an anticipation guide, informational text, vocabulary strategies and writing activities. [SciLinks: Seasons]

Developing and Using Models to Align with NGSS illustrates the complementary nature of disciplinary core ideas (DCI) and modeling. The authors suggest using the article to work with colleagues as a professional learning opportunity. The Earth-Sun-Moon system provides the context for this article. [SciLinks: Earth-Moon Connection, Moon Phases, Solar System]

The use of modeling continues with Incorporating Models Into Science Teaching to Meet the NGSS. The authors note that models serve four roles: data synthesis, representations of science ideas, substitutes for natural phenomena, and hypotheses and claims. They provides examples of these kinds of models and provide a chart of suggested activities and connections  with the performance expectations of the NGSS. The article also includes suggestions for getting started with the use of models.

The fall is a great time to be outdoors. Rather than traditional scavenger hunts or collection activities, Modeling the Forest describes an investigation in which students collect tree data to model a single tree or a forested area. The article provides activities, student handouts, and background information. NGSS: Lost in the Woods describes an investigation of moss and lichen growth on trees as a way of ramping up a traditional activity into an extended investigation. [SciLinks: Forests, Autumn Leaves, Deforestation, Lichens, What Are Mosses?]

[Modeling is the theme for the September issue of The Science Teacher. Check it out for more on the topic.]

Staying on the topic of wood, Innovative Composite Research Modeled in the Middle School Classroom describes an engineering-focused activity in which students explore how composites (based on wood and wood products) can be designed to create materials with more desirable properties. Students were asked to develop a stronger wood-based product—a composite of baker’s dough and sawdust. The authors include a day-by-day lesson suggestion with examples of student handouts/data sheets.

Ken Roy’s safety columns appear in both Science Scope and The Science Teacher. Each journal has a different column, but this month has a direct connection. We often think of safety as the domain of chemistry and biology teachers, but this month Ken writes Earth Science Safety: It’s All in Your Form (in Science Scope) and Acknowledging Safety in Physics (in The Science Teacher). Both of his columns should be required reading (and NSTA members have access to both journals).

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  1. Jeri Hallberg Harmon
    Posted October 20, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink


    By Jeri Hallberg Harmon von Schiller Griffin de Tamez, Master of Education

    The three keys to Master Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are available to children as young as first grade., in public school, and far younger in ages for children whose parents have taken the time to condition their children in the understanding of basic math and science concepts.

    The concepts of the basic Mathematical operations; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, the alphabet, ( in any language), and the understanding of the values of the numerical values zero through nine are the THREE KEYS.

    On October 18th, 2013 at Santa Teresa Airport, this concept was demonstrated in an effort spearheaded by numerous educational entities which collaborated to establish the real world applicability of STEM.

    The volunteer efforts of Suzy Azar’s Cleared for Take Off Youth Aviation Program, the Amigo Air Show, New Mexico State University, the Smithsonian Museum of Aviation History, the War Eagles Air Museum, Independent Educational Outreach Provider and STEM Facilitation Educators from the von Schiller Home School, the El Paso Independent School District, Texas Teachers, teachers Aids and Substitute Teachers from Anthony and Canutillo School Districts coalesced to create a safe, secure, aviation event which resulted in the treatment of over 1200 students being offered three hours of aviation /aerospace/space history, visual flight demonstration and luncheon.

    The coordinated efforts included a series of guided tours, stationed stops within the museum, professional educators delivering informational concepts, docent presentations of World War Two, Korean and Viet Nam era war birds, as well as the future of aviation education station delivered from the unmanned vehicle program from New Mexico State University.

    The beauty of the program was the fact that the lowest income schools were represented and presented with this program.
    Female pilots as well as male pilots demonstrated to otherwise disenfranchised students, that ANYONE can become involved in aviation and that there are no barriers to success. Adult representatives from numerous demographic backgrounds who have proven their success in education and educational efforts, now serve as the mentors for children in the far west Texas and Southern New Mexico Region.

    One volunteer for the program, 13 year old John von Schiller Griffin, demonstrated use of the radio controlled computer programs which serves as a flight simulator for the unmanned aviation vehicle program offered by New Mexico State University.
    von Schiller Griffin has logged numerous flight hours through his participation in Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, and the Young Eagles Programs.
    During and interview for Channel nine news and Channel four news , television stations based in El Paso, Texas; von Schiller Griffin stated because of programs such as those offered by , New Mexico State University and the War Eagles Education Programs, ”I plan on a career in the Air Force as an ” RC” Aviator.”

    The author, Jeri Hallberg Harmon von Schiller de Tamez has served as a researcher, teacher, participant an education advocate for the STEM fields.
    She has advocated and has participated in NASA EXPLORER SCHOOLS, as an aerospace Education Member for Civil Air Patrol, the Young Eagles Program and has established the von Schiller Home School Education STEM Facilitation Project.

    The von Schiller Home School STEM Facilitation Project conducts research on aerospace and aviation information, conducts secondary and primary comparative cognitive reception research and actively participates in action research, collects and disseminates hard and soft copies of STEM materials and programs, presents opportunities and distributes material to STEM educators.

    The concept of the THREE KEYS is copyrighted by Jeri Hallberg Harmon von Schiller de Tamez and is presented to students in grade levels from early childhood through twelfth grade.
    Demystification and ease of science and math concepts, mastery and ownership of academic delivery for, to and within the framework age appropriateness, her goal is for student knowledge to segue ( in the Vygotsvian method); from ideas to demonstration, student treatment , demonstration and exposure, to understanding of , synthesis of THE THREE KEYS and final mastery.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Our district is undergoing a massive overhaul in light of the NGSS. Are any high schools going to a sequential order of Chemistry for Freshmen, Biology for Sophomores, and Physics for Juniors? I’m a bit surprised by the logic of our Science curriculum committee. Can Freshmen handle a Chemistry course based on the NGSS? Any thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated.

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