On the journey to NGSS, follow the path that works for you

Every teacher of science in a school in which NGSS is being implemented is engaged in a transition to standards that are very different from what they are familiar with. This can spark many emotions, including excitement, fear, inspiration, fear, and more excitement. It is a journey in which things are going well, and then you might stumble and fall. Then we must pick ourselves up and start moving again. I know because I am still a NGSS learner myself, and I talk to teachers about this regularly.

When the standards were first released, for example, I worked with a colleague and constructed an integrated instructional sequence for transfer of energy. I was pretty proud of myself. And this lasted until I piloted it with real learners. It had many flaws, but it wasn’t bad for a first try. Now I would do it very differently. After continued learning, I am now in the process of recreating the same transfer of energy instructional sequence. I am bundling the standards differently, using different pieces of texts.

Whether it’s figuring out what lessons to adapt or discard, how to work with colleagues, or how to engage students in phenomena, your colleagues are on the same journey. Read these insights from three educators about their journey to understand and implement the NGSS. They previously appeared in the NSTA member journals.

Adapt or Discard? A Teacher Shares His Experience Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, From Struggle to Success

by Mike Mangiaracina, a K–5 science specialist in Washington, D.C. (published in Science & Children)


My Journey to Understand and Implement the NGSS: One Educator Shares the Story of How She Engaged and Ultimately Embraced the Next Generation Science Standards

by Karen Mesmer, a recently retired middle school science teacher and science coach in Baraboo, Wisconsin.




Climbing the NGSS Mountain: Persistence and a Sense of Purpose Can Propel You to the Top

by Tricia Shelton, a high school science teacher in Florence, Kentucky.





Kathy Renfrew

Kathy Renfrew is the field editor for Next Gen Navigator. She is K-5 Science coordinator on the Proficiency Based Learning Team at the Vermont Agency of Education, as well as an NGSS@NSTA curator and online advisor in the NSTA Learning Center. She is also worked with a committee of educators and Achieve to develop model content frameworks for elementary science, particularly for grades 4 and 5. Kathy previously taught grades 4 through 6 in a self-contained classroom for more than 30 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2000 recipient of the elementary Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. 
Visit NSTA’s NGSS@NSTA Hub for hundreds of vetted classroom resources, professional learning opportunities, publicationsebooks and more; connect with your teacher colleagues on the NGSS listservs (members can sign up here); and join us for discussions around NGSS at an upcoming conference.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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