Category Archives: Next Generation Science Standards

Stay informed about progress in formulating and implementing the new science education standards. Click on a headline to read the entire post.

Exploring Structure and Function in Insects

As an entomologist, one of my greatest challenges is trying to overcome my students’ feelings of fear and disgust regarding insects. Insects often have negative images in society. Walk through any toy store, and you will likely find plastic insects with the words “gross” or “creepy” written on their colorful packaging. One of our main […]

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Using Toxic Algal Blooms to Teach Structure and Function

Young children often experience a developmental stage in which they question everything. Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore? Why do cats purr? Why are some potato chips green? They go from simply observing their surroundings to analyzing, experimenting, and wanting to make sense of their world. As a high school teacher of ninth-grade biology and AP […]

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Balloon Racers

Anyone who teaches middle school students knows they have a lot of energy, and a lot of hot air. Why not put it to use? In this activity, students will be challenged to modify a simple plastic balloon racer to travel farther and faster. Students begin by asking questions and making observations to understand how […]

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First Graders Become Corn Experts: Using Questions to Drive Instruction

First graders love when fall comes to Kansas. It’s a magical time when lots of events are occurring in their environment, and I take full advantage of their natural curiosity. We begin the school year with a mini science unit featuring corn and agriculture. Every year in May, my class plants a few corn kernels […]

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Scaffolding the Practice of Asking Questions and Defining Problems

With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), teachers are wondering how to teach their students to do the science and engineering practices (SEPs). Some SEPs, such as carrying out investigations and analyzing data, are a natural flow from the old science standards. Many, however, are new for both students and teachers. For […]

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First-Graders Modeling Day and Night: Making Sense of a Phenomenon

As a first-grade teacher in Detroit with predominantly Latinx students and English language learners, I worked for several weeks at the end of last school year with a doctoral candidate in science education and former elementary teacher, Christa Haverly, and by extension, an associate professor in science education and expert in scientific modeling, Christina Schwarz […]

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What Is Your Model For?

Recently, my colleagues and I had an exchange with some teachers in one of our professional development programs. One teacher said, “I think I do a lot of modeling in my class. I have my kids draw pictures of the science ideas they are learning all the time.” This description of modeling is common. When […]

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Modeling in Science Instruction

With the shift toward three-dimensional teaching and learning that the Next Generation Science Standards requires, the Crosscutting Concept of Modeling has become a major focus of my instruction.  I use a process that involves revisiting the same model at least three times in a unit to support students’ growth in this area. Each unit starts […]

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What Does 3-Dimensional Space Look Like

When transitioning my classroom instruction to three dimensional learning, I decided to start with one or two areas in each unit or lesson set where I felt the most need. I was already purposeful in selecting activities that I carefully sequenced to support student learning of concepts and big ideas, but I expected students to […]

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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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