Teaching with the Next Generation
Science Standards

Apr 23, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

New Practices and New Processes in STEM Instruction

Before NGSS, you may have used textbooks, etexts, or otherwise taken a content approach centering on understanding and applying. What the new Next Generation Science Standards ask is that we go further in challenging student's higher order thinking skills: creating, evaluating and analyzing, so that students are not only consuming the content but are actually participating and interacting with it, working to develop it as a solution to a problem or answer to a question of their own within the classroom.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Apr 21, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

A Three-Legged Stool of Standards

Understanding the relationship between the core components in the STEM cycle is very helpful to understanding—and applying—the three dimensions: practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts that we find within the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Apr 19, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

The STEM Cycle: A Cycle of Innovation

It’s a question a lot of educators have: At their core, what are the Next Generation Science Standards all about? Why do they exist? Why do we even need to consider changing our approach and methods?

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 31, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Science & Engineering: Concept-to-Concept, Concept-to-Self, and Concept-to-World Connections

When student questions and connections drive teaching and learning, you immediately have a much richer context in which students can learn. When they observe real-world anchor phenomena and are then given the opportunity to explore them through more individualized investigative phenomena, you have dramatically increased the chances that they will forge those valuable concept to concept, concept to self, concept to world connections.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 29, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

The Connection Between Phenomena & Standardized Testing

Let’s talk briefly about next generation state-level assessment and how it should impact your use of phenomena and your approach to science instruction as a whole.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 26, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Differences in Phenomena: Early Elementary, Elementary, and Middle School

Of course, phenomena plays out a little differently depending on the age group, so let’s take a moment to explore what it looks like in early elementary, elementary and middle school. At an early elementary level, the complexity and the modality are muted and simplified, respectively. At an early elementary level, the teacher would most likely read aloud instead of giving students individual reading material because, obviously, most kindergartners can't read yet. As they plan investigations, they may do so in a more visual and verbal than what a 4th grader would be doing in a blank composition notebook.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, Elementary Science Curriculum, Middle School Science Curriculum

Mar 24, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What Comprises a Lesson?

A lesson is a group of experiences. Each lesson represents deliberate practice, a deliberate thoughtful experience that comes together in the following way. Think about a lesson taking place in a middle school, for example, over the course of five days, meeting with students for 45 minutes at a time. On the first day, you might use a read-aloud, a visual or some other kind of media that brings that anchor phenomenon to life. Students encounter the anchor phenomenon – the flooding in New York City, for instance – within the context of this piece of media.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 22, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Implementing Phenomena Within Lesson and Unit Flow


In order to implement phenomena into the flow of lessons and units, we must first take a next generation inquiry approach to what lessons and units even are, and then adjust them to fit different grade levels. When integrated naturally into the cadence of lessons and units, phenomena become very powerful real-world contexts against which students can hone their science and engineering skills, really cement understanding of the disciplinary core ideas and start to see true crosscutting concepts functioning within greater systems.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 16, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Anchor vs. Investigative Phenomena

Now let’s explore the phenomena themselves. There are two basic flavors of phenomena, and one hangs on the other. First of all, we have anchor phenomena. These are those observable, real-life contexts that form the basis of a question or a problem to be solved. They tend to be very complex, and represent question we can’t answer in a single experiment, or problems we couldn’t solve in one round of prototyping. This context gives the lesson its overarching focus, but is nevertheless too broad to define a single lesson.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 15, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Phenomena: Connections to PBL and Hands-On Inquiry

(Right) Authentic problem-based learning and hands-on inquiry puts students up close and personal with materials and problems that encourage students to actually become scientists and engineers, rather than just “do” science and engineering.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

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