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Acheiving True Next Gen Science Resource Alignment

Posted by Francis Vigeant on Mar 22, 2016
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Curriculum, professional development, and hands-on materials are the  key components that make an effective STEM learning environment possible. So, you might be wondering, how does KnowAtom work to transform STEM education? 

Here’s our basic model: We take everything a student needs to experience and make it the totality of a school’s curriculum. The experiences are developed from the Next Generation Science Standards so this doubles as a quick and easy way for schools to engage students, achieve performance on science standardized testing, and align the science and engineering instruction to NGSS.

We change the way educators interpret STEM through professional development. 

The emphasis here is on the skills, habits and disposition of innovators. This connects educators to the value of expecting students to be scientists and engineers in the classroom. No playing around, no worksheets. We design tools and materials that create continuity between lessons, engage students individually, and produce results measurable by state testing.

So how can you make sure you have resources as quality as these? Even if you don’t scrap your current science curriculum and adopt another wholesale, the next step is to delve into your science curriculum and unpack absolutely every aspect of it. Then you have to have an honest discussion about whether or not the resources and content contained within it align to NGSS beyond a reasonable doubt.

We’ve found that typically most existing curriculums need at least some change, but luckily, the process of going over the curriculum does point the way forward in terms of what is working and what needs to be replaced.

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The challenge right now with analyzing curriculum and tasks is that most resources you’ll find are a re-articulation of something that isn’t aimed at NGSS, but is nevertheless calling itself NGSS-aligned. Resources that aren’t aligned, however, don’t move up the student learning value ladder to eventually arrive at mastery readiness.

So how should this inform your process from now on? As you go to trade shows or conventions, be careful to ask whether curriculum is aligned, and be suspicious of people who say it is when it’s really just repackaged curriculum serving a traditional model. Remember that this is about students developing and using content with their skills.

Just because something is “hands-on” does not mean it’s a true next generation learning experience, so be suspicious of anything that touts its alignment simply by virtue of being hands-on. 

Topics: NGSS, knowatom, Assessing Curriculum

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