Teaching with the Next Generation
Science Standards

Jan 11, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What Is Reasonable for Science Implementation and Sustainability?

The numbers you’re about to read might surprise you, but they have been collected carefully and are accurate representations of what you could be spending on high-quality STEM curriculum, provided you have a willingness to break out of that 7-year cycle.

The cost of implementing and maintaining KnowAtom is significantly lower than a district typically pays for ongoing STEM curriculum and materials costs.

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Topics: STEM

Jan 6, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

How to Transition from 7-Year Textbook Adoptions to a Yearly Science Budget K-12

Transitioning from the 7-year textbook adoption cycle most districts are familiar with to a yearly support approach may feel challenging at first, but it's perfectly possible. The first step is to capture current costs as a set point for what the district is already spending, while the second step is to determine what is reasonable for initial implementation of a new curriculum and sustainability of that curriculum over time.

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Topics: STEM

Jan 4, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

The Drawback of DIY Science Curriculum

When districts expect teachers to be able to develop science curriculum on their own, they are typically unable to do so quickly to the high-quality standards. This fails students who could benefit in the short term. That's when we can see 4-month and year-long earth science units, with no substantive connection to other units or evidence of students demonstrating proficiency with crosscutting concepts or the science and engineering practices. Or a reversion to that traditional model in which the teachers are under pressure to employ an "I do, you do" model for lack of resources to do anything else.

An "I do, you do" curriculum is not a mastery-level approach to the higher order thinking skills students  need to succeed in STEM settings. Creativity, evaluation and analysis depend on students having the opportunity to grow through challenge and practice them, which they can't get in an environment where standards are mistaken for curriculum.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Dec 30, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Estimating the Time & Cost of New Science Standards

In this article we'll look at the actual cost of developing your own curriculum, both in terms of the time required and the financial burden involved.

It stands to reason that before diving in to the process of devising a new, NGSS-aligned curriculum, a district would want to determine how much the cost would end up being. There is a fairly simple format for determining this: Simply add up all the hours that would theoretically be spent on each phase of development, then multiply that by the contracted rate of the district. If it is teachers developing curriculum, you might estimate that rate to be $25 per hour; for administrators, it will likely be higher.

A DIY cost formula for estimating how much curriculum development will require budget-wise. To get a number, add up the hours spent on each phase of development, then multiply that by the district's contracted rate for whoever is doing the work. The initial time input required to develop just one new grade level of curriculum—not including testing it—is typically around 5,000 hours.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Dec 28, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

How the Release of Responsibility Timeline Plays Into Science

Thinking about things like the release of responsibility, you have to deploy materials in a streamlined, consistent fashion over the course of the year in all classrooms teaching the units. If you just split them up and let everybody test one thing at a time when they feel like it, the feedback you get will not be useful. It will be based on a collection of single experiences rather than a controlled sampling of data.

The full release of responsibility happens in three stages, ensuring that students eventually develop the capacity to engage with material on their own for the majority of the year.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Dec 23, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Are You Testing Your Next Gen Science Materials?

Once you've created a format and drafted the materials, you need to test them to find out how they function in the real world, in your school or district.

This is an extremely important step. To understand why, consider existing curriculum. Let's take the example of 4th grade teachers who have had 30-year careers and have therefore taught specific units—say, rocks and minerals—30 times in their entire career. Each year, they might adjust the lessons a bit, but for the most part they're going to stay the same. If there are 400 4th grade classrooms in your district, then that's a lot of data you have about that unit: 400 x 30 opportunities to collect information on how well this lesson works. But what is your district's capacity to gather, analyze, and innovate off that data, and who will be responsible for those tasks?

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Dec 21, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Next Gen Science Curriculum Development Process

Let's transition from thinking about time-on-learning to considering how best to develop your own curriculum. Designing good curriculum requires a relatively simple process, illustrated below:

Curriculum development should progress from initial ideation to a formatting and drafting period, moving then to testing, reviewing and revising materials, and finally to professional development training on how to use the materials.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Dec 16, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

What to Expect in Next Gen Science Curriculum Development

Creating the right STEM curriculum involves understanding the difference between standards and curriculum, what an effective curriculum development process should look like, and how to estimate time and costs to stay on-budget and successfully meet Next Generation Science Standards year after year.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Dec 14, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Using Science Time-On-Learning Well

While time-on-learning is an important element, you have to use it well in order to make a difference in student learning. That requires an intentional scope and sequence that is grade-specific. Each unit must support teachers through a carefully scaffolded series of units and lessons that builds on student understanding and is supported by the learning that came before.

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Topics: STEM

Dec 9, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

More Than a Task: Learning STEM

As you help students engage with material as scientists and engineers in a next generation science setting, a cadence begins to emerge. It begins with nonfiction reading, then transitions to Socratic dialogue. This means a teacher is not projecting information to students, but is instead asking higher order questions that force students to make concept-to-concept, concept-to-self and concept-to-world connections. Then the progression transitions to student team investigations, where the students are actually planning how they're going to answer a question as a scientist or solve a problem as an engineer. That's what these standards are really focused on. They are performance expectations that create a classroom environment in which students can actually engage in the practices.

In order to bring the three dimensions to life in a science and engineering context, the teacher leads the class from nonfiction reading to Socratic dialogue, students plan and carry out investigations, and teams form conclusions which they then debrief about as a class.

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Topics: STEM

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