Author Archives: John Russell and Dave Randle

Global Thinking Inside and Outside the Classroom

Dynamic Equilibrium. These two words represent what is essential in teaching Earth science: the idea that forces are constantly working against one another, but often do so in ways that nearly counteract one another. In a river, deposition and erosion, as central concepts, can be used to explain a range of phenomena, such as meandering […]

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Cereal to Stream Tables: Putting Stability and Change in Students’ Hands

Stability and Change is one of the seven Crosscutting Concepts (CCs) that can be difficult to convey in a lesson. Other CCs like Patterns, Cause and Effect, and Systems and System Models can be easily incorporated in the structure of a lesson. With a little planning, Stability and Change can be frequently demonstrated in a […]

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Kindergarten Citizen Scientists: Taking Action to Save the Earth

My kindergarten students recently became citizen scientists as they investigated their big questions about the natural world around them. The snow finally melted, the critters have made their appearance, and the plants are beginning to bloom. It’s early May, and Spring has finally arrived—not a moment too soon. Our class has been out walking on […]

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Making NGSS Storylines Work

I had eagerly anticipated a session at the NSTA National Conference in Atlanta called How Do We Make NGSS Storylines Work by Pushing Students to Go Deeper?—presented by Michael Novak and Brian Reiser—and I was not alone: Attendees filled the room to overflowing. I was fortunate to have worked with Novak and Reiser when I […]

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Scaffolding the Crosscutting Concepts: Graphic Organizers in Action in the Middle School Classroom

The crosscutting concepts have great potential to help students connect their learning across grade levels and science disciplines, but they can easily become the forgotten “third dimension.” Last May, we wrote about developing a set of graphic organizers that help make the crosscutting concepts explicit for students and scaffold their thinking as students apply the […]

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Using Primary Sources as Anchoring Phenomena

I think the best part of attending NSTA’s national conferences is having the opportunity to learn so much from every person you meet. The sheer number of so many likeminded educators in one place can seem overwhelming, but the opportunity to learn from them all is one that can’t be missed. After leaving the 2017 […]

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Cultivating Every Child’s Curiosity in the Natural World

At the NSTA National Conference in Atlanta, I was honored to give the Mary C. McCurdy lecture on young children and their natural curiosity about how the world works. Anyone who has ever spent time with them knows they are born scientists who are curious about the natural world and continuously question, test, and try […]

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Choosing Instructional Materials: Lessons Learned

Throughout my career as an educator, I’ve had many opportunities to select instructional materials. One experience is particularly memorable because I learned then that how you select instructional materials can be as important as what materials are selected.  By that point in my career, I had selected materials for other content areas, but I had […]

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Seeds of Science, Roots of Reading Program Helps Students Develop Explanations

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) encourage three-dimensional thinking in students. 3-D thinking, and the process of developing scientific explanations, are curiosity-driven: They involve wondering, posing questions, and making observations; reading books to discover what others have learned; planning investigations; gathering and analyzing information; reflecting on what was learned in light of new evidence; and […]

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And the Search Continues…

As a former elementary science specialist, I am familiar with the elementary teacher’s skill set. They excel at managing a classroom, are very organized, and love a great mentor text—a text that is an example of good writing. However, many don’t feel confident enough when teaching science to consider themselves science experts. Helping elementary teachers […]

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