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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.

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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?

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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.

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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 

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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?

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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.

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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.
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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. 

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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.

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

5 Concrete Steps to Ensure Students Are Making Deep Connections

Jun 13, 2018 by Sara Goodman

Socratic dialogue is an important way to get students to begin working with their own ideas and the ideas of others, clarifying what they think and why they think it, and then refining their thoughts as a result of the discussion.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

7 Expectations You Should Set for a Genuine Socratic Dialogue

Jun 6, 2018 by Francis Vigeant

Socratic dialogue is an important part of a next generation science classroom because it is all about students learning how to work with their own ideas and the ideas of others. The skills students need to actively contribute to a Socratic dialogue take time to develop. 

The amount of time that it takes is really a function of how clear and consistent you are as the teacher, communicating your expectations and coaching your students.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Lawrence Public Schools Sees Uptick in Science Performance Among English Learners

May 30, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

SUMMARY:

Lawrence is one of 26 “Gateway Cities” in Massachusetts, which means it is a mid-sized urban center that was once home to industry but struggled as its manufacturing jobs disappeared. Gateway cities are home to the largest numbers of English Learners (EL) in the state. In the case of Lawrence Public Schools, 71.3% of students' first language is not English.

In 2015-2016, Lawrence Public Schools adopted KnowAtom’s K-8 science and engineering curriculum and hands-on resources because of KnowAtom’s success in helping other large urban districts significantly improve the science learning outcomes of all students, including EL students.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction

How to Get Students to Participate in Socratic Dialogue

May 23, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

A strong Socratic dialogue can be helped by the layout of your class and how you organize students. We'll focus on three different formats for Socratic dialogue.

Choosing a Socratic Dialogue Format

The layout of your classroom and how students are positioned can go a long way toward getting students to be active participants. The format you choose will depend on your grade level and the familiarity of your students with Socratic dialogue.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

5 Features of All Socratic Dialogues

May 16, 2018 by Francis Vigeant

 

To understand why Socratic dialogue is so important in a next generation science classroom, it’s important to first describe what exactly a Socratic dialogue is—and equally importantly, what it is not.

What a Socratic Dialogue Is:

There are 5 key features of all genuine Socratic dialogues.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Why is Socratic Dialogue So Important in a Next Generation Science Classroom?

May 9, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

A next generation science class is all about students learning how to work with ideas, both their own ideas and the ideas of others.

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Topics: Three dimensions, Socratic dialogue, Phenomena-Based Learning

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