School Login

KnowAtom's Blog

New Resource Helps Teachers Make 3-Dimensional Science Assessments

Aug 5, 2019 by Sara Goodman

Now that the majority of states (40, to be specific, plus the District of Columbia) have adopted either the Next Generation Science Standards or very similar science standards, there is a growing focus on how to create assessments that are aligned to the new standards.

The Next Generation Science Standards were developed based on recommendations from the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education.

“Fully meeting the vision set forth by the Framework and Framework-aligned standards requires high-quality and aligned assessments that can provide actionable information to students, teachers, and families,” according to a recent report by the nonprofit Achieve.

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS Assessments, Three dimensions, Implementing New Science Standards, Next Generation Assessments, STEM Education Policy, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

New Report Focuses on Science Time on Learning

Jul 30, 2019 by Sara Goodman

Across the United States, there isn’t adequate guidance on how much time on learning schools need to dedicate to science instruction.

According to a new report by the nonprofit group Achieve, this needs to change, and the change needs to happen at the state level.

There are 40 states plus the District of Columbia that have now adopted the NGSS or similar next generation standards for science.

Time on Learning in a Next Gen Classroom

An inadequate amount of science time on learning is not news to many teachers who struggle to incorporate science into their already full days. In fact, not enough time on learning for science is one of the most common complaints facing schools implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, Time on Learning, State-Specific Science Standards, STEM Education Policy, science education, engineering education

How to Create a Culture of Thinking in the K-8 Science Classroom

Jul 22, 2019 by Sara Goodman

The Next Generation Science Standards call for a significant shift in instruction: students need to actually think, to develop and refine their own ideas and the ideas of their peers.

This leads to a basic question that is surprisingly hard to answer: how do we think? When we ask students to think, what should really be going on in their minds?

The book “Making Thinking Visible” tackles these questions head-on, exploring how and why thinking is so important in the classroom.

As part of their research, the authors came up with eight thinking moves, what they call “high-leverage moves that serve understanding well.” These eight thinking moves are “integral to understanding and without which it would be difficult to say we had developed understanding.”

Continue reading

Topics: Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Phenomena-Based Learning, Teaching in 3 Dimensions, science education, engineering education

Concrete Ways to Ask Students Better Questions

Jul 16, 2019 by Nicole Lanoue

This blog is the second part of a two-part series titled "Asking Better Questions: The Key to Deeper, More Engaged, More Authentic Instruction." To read the first part, click here.

"Children grow into the intellectual life of those around them. School is no longer about the quick right answer, but about the ongoing mental work of understanding new ideas and information." (Vygotsky 1978)

Given this, the questions that we ask shouldn't be about quick right answers. Instead, they should be about getting students to engage in the mental work—the cognitive load—of understanding new ideas and information, which can come from the individual or other students.

What are some techniques and some practical approaches that you can use?

  1. Start by identifying key big ideas, or concepts, for yourself that are a part of the unit.
Continue reading

Topics: Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Phenomena-Based Learning, Teaching in 3 Dimensions, science education, engineering education

How To Ask Questions that Lead to More Engaged Students

Jul 10, 2019 by Nicole Lanoue

How do the questions we ask students influence the quality of classroom instruction—and by extension, the depth of students’ learning?

This question is critical for classrooms implementing the Next Generation Science Standards and adaptations of the NGSS. Creating a next generation learning environment requires space for creativity, analysis, and decision-making so that students can develop the control and agency necessary to develop and use the three dimensions of the NGSS—science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.

For students to develop control and agency, they need opportunities to be creative, to independently and collaboratively use the eight science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to make sense of the disciplinary core ideas, and then have the opportunity to own the result of their efforts, regardless of the outcome.

Continue reading

Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, Three dimensions, Phenomena-led teaching, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

The “Art of Teaching NGSS”: How Phenomena and a Culture of Learning Impact Student Engagement

Jun 11, 2019 by Francis Vigeant

Not too long ago a reader of this blog posed the following question:

My question is how do you get kids to want to even ask questions? I teach high school and the only way most of my students learn anything is by my forcing it down their throats, because they aren't even curious about phenomena. This new model is awesome for kids who WANT to learn, but for the vast majority, school is where their parents want them to go so they aren't home all day. Any thoughts?

It got me thinking because it strikes at the very heart of teaching and learning: What is the value-add of time on learning today?

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, Time on Learning, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Phenomena-Based Learning, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Iraqi Teachers Adopt KnowAtom to Create a Next Generation Science Experience for IDP Students K-8

Feb 17, 2019 by Sara Goodman

When Mahma was a child, he dreamed of being a teacher.

However, poverty made that dream out of reach to Mahma as he grew up. Instead, he became a farmer in Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq.

Then in 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked Sinjar and surrounding villages in what has been internationally recognized as the 74th attempted genocide of the Yazidi people. Tens of thousands of Yazidis, including Mahma, fled to escape ISIS.

Now, almost five years later, hundreds of Yazidi adults and thousands of Yazidi children have found hope in an unexpected place—inside the camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) where they’ve ended up.

This hope has come from an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for K-8 students that has taken root in the U.N. camps and surrounding schools. The STEM program, launched in 2015, is aimed at bringing relevant and lifelong skills to children living in the camps while at the same time helping them build skills to cope with conflict.

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, international, Innovation, Inquiry Based Learning, STEM Education Policy, science education, engineering education, KRI

How Does Professional Development Shape Culture?

Dec 12, 2018 by Francis Vigeant

In our third post exploring how to develop a culture of success with the Next Generation Science Standards, we turn our attention to the role of professional development .

It is essential to have a professional development plan that positively shapes culture. This is because if you’re going to do something new, then you need to understand what’s involved in that new thing. This is true for any task, including implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.

Teachers teach the students. But who teaches the teachers and the administrators? That’s key because

 if you buy a program that you don’t understand, or somebody buys a program for you that you don’t understand, then how can you implement the program as it’s designed to be used?

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS, Professional Development, Implementing New Science Standards, Next Generation Leadership, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Instructional Leadership is Essential for a Successful NGSS Implementation

Dec 5, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

Last week we talked about why focusing on a building or district's culture is so important for a successful implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

This week we turn our attention to the important role that instructional leadership plays in culture, which in turn affects how successful any implementation will likely be.

Continue reading

Topics: Next Generation Leadership, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, STEM Education Policy, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

What Does a Successful K12 NGSS Implementation Look Like?

Nov 28, 2018 by Sara Goodman

Fully implementing the Next Generation Science Standards is a growth process. Once you actually have a program that is thoughtful and well developed, it will take three to five years to get to a fully successful and effective implementation.

A quote that resonates when thinking about teaching and learning with the Next Generation Science Standards comes from Angela Duckworth in her book Grit: ‘‘Novelty for the beginner comes in one form and novelty for the expert in another. For the beginner, novelty is 

Continue reading

Topics: School Climate and Culture, Implementing New Science Standards, Next Generation Leadership, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, STEM Education Policy, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Why is Culture Key to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards?

Nov 21, 2018 by Francis Vigeant

“Culture eats strategy – and programs—for breakfast.”

This quote is KnowAtom’s take on the quip attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” which emphasizes the critical role that an organization’s culture—even more than any strategy it might develop—plays in that organization’s success.

We're modifying it to say that culture eats both strategy and programs for breakfast.

This saying is relevant for districts and classrooms implementing the Next Generation Science Standards because people often focus on programs and/or strategies for the new standards, but fail to consider a balance of both to address the 

cultural shifts needed to ensure a smooth and successful implementation.

So what is culture?

Continue reading

Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, Implementing New Science Standards, Next Generation Leadership, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

How to Incorporate Formative Assessment Into Your Next Generation Science Lesson

Aug 2, 2018 by Sara Goodman

In general, it’s important to have straightforward expectations that you hold students accountable to in each part of a science or engineering lesson.

Students need to understand that they’re being held accountable to these expectations. Straightforward expectations help both parties to engage and provide feedback, and to do so in a way that's meaningful to each other.

Here we’ll walk through a KnowAtom lesson, which has 5 parts that unfold over the course of a week or a week and a half, but these ideas can be applied to any lesson.

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Assessments, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

3 Features Shared by All Next Generation Formative Assessments

Jul 26, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

In any part of a next generation science lesson, formative assessments provide useful feedback to both the teacher and the students in the moment.

Formative assessments can come anywhere in a lesson, so they can be verbal, written, electronic, and take a variety of different forms. However, they all share three characteristics.

3 Features Share By All Formative Assessments

  1. Similar to a milestone, formative assessments occur in the moment as students are engaged in making sense of phenomena, which includes planning and carrying out investigations. This allows students to incorporate the feedback into their thinking and their work, becoming more aware of their own learning process.
Continue reading

Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Assessments, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Why Are Formative Assessments Essential to Effective Next Generation Science Instruction?

Jul 19, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

The Next Generation Science Standards are all about students developing the skills to work with ideas, both their own and those of others.

That means that it's not sufficient to know about something. Students have to be able to form an opinion, have an idea, to work with that idea to be able to inform themselves, and also to refine the idea over time, perhaps through experimentation or through prototyping.

This is a significant shift from traditional science instruction, one that will require changes from both teachers and students. 

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS Assessments, NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction

How Do Formative Assessments Benefit Elementary and Middle School Students?

Jul 13, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

Formative assessment needs to be a key part of any next generation science instruction.

At its core, a formative assessment is an opportunity for useful insight on behalf of both parties—the teacher and the students. Often, formative assessments look a lot like a conversation because they’re bilateral, with both parties offering ideas, listening, and acting as a critical skeptic to the other.

Benefits to Students

Students get frequent, focused feedback that is useful for improving their learning in the moment.

Continue reading

Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Assessments, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

New Call-to-action

Posts by Topic

see all

Stay Up to Date With Our Latest Posts

Pick How Often: