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Francis Vigeant

“Growing up, I wanted to be an inventor, solving problems that would help people have better lives. Every day at KnowAtom is an opportunity to invent solutions that give thousands of students and teachers a better experience doing science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM). Providing educators with professional satisfaction and students with the opportunity to understand the world we live in is my way of helping people have better lives.” As a high school math teacher, Vigeant asked himself a simple question: How can I take the knowledge our students need and make it matter to them? His answer was to create KnowAtom, building its core architecture and platform alignment around the idea of making science, engineering, and math relevant. Vigeant has taught science, engineering, and mathematics to kindergarten through twelfth-grade students in a variety of learning environments, ranging from college prep and honors classrooms to self-contained, team-taught, and inclusion settings. His focus on scientific and engineering process pedagogy and practice has helped schools become leaders in science education, based on common assessment programs. Vigeant is a strong believer in empowering professional teachers and has created Professional Learning Community models for large urban districts. Vigeant’s achievements have been recognized by the American Federation of Teachers’ publication, The Advocate, in which he was profiled as an up-and-coming educational innovator. He is a presenter at the National Science Teachers Association National Conference, Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers, and Massachusetts Technology Education/Engineering Collaborative. Vigeant serves on several STEM-related boards focused on creating opportunities for students and teachers from traditionally underserved communities. He is a graduate of Gordon College.

Recent Posts

Forming Evidence-based Conclusions and Debriefing CER in Science K-8

Mar 29, 2022 by Francis Vigeant

Key Learning Objectives:

What Makes a Complete Conclusion

How You Set Up Debriefing and Sharing Conclusions Matters

Tools: Motivation and Using Checkpoints and Concept Maps to Debrief Thinking

The focus of this article is on forming CER conclusions and debriefing in NGSS science – the fifth and last step in the KnowAtom lesson routine and an important way to finish each lesson. When using the KnowAtom lesson routine, students discover phenomena, discuss it, and then try to answer a question or solve a problem related to it. With hands-on science instruction, students have the opportunity to be scientists and engineers, while they respond to real world problems and work together to solve them.

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Topics: Hands on, Science Curriculum

Using Socratic Dialogue with NGSS Curriculum

Feb 4, 2022 by Francis Vigeant

The second step in the KnowAtom lesson routine for grades K-8 is Socratic dialogue. This is an important part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-based curriculum for students of all ages. If you're new at implementing scientific discussions or looking to improve the Socratic dialogue in your classroom, it's important to set clear expectations for yourself and your students. Knowing what you should expect as a teacher-facilitator and what you should expect from your students as they become more familiar with Socratic dialogue in your science class, will help improve your results.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, Socratic dialogue, Implementing New Science Standards, Dialogue, New Ideas, Discussion, connections, viewpoints

Science for the Next Generation: Preparing for the New Standards

Nov 17, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

Educational leaders often speak about preparing the “next generation” for the future. In the years ahead, the next generation will work in jobs that are just emerging or don’t yet exist and will face challenges we can only theorize on today. While leaders often pay lip service to “investing” in the next generation, only one content area explicitly states that the next generation is their focus. That area? Science.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards

What Are the Next Generation Science Standards?

Nov 12, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

What Does NGSS Stand For? NGSS refers to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) which are used in some form by 44 US states and territories to shape instruction and excite the next generation of scientists and engineers. Developed by prominent scientists and teachers, the NGSS aims to inspire curiosity and engagement for students who might otherwise lose ambition for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as they enter middle school.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards

The NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: An Overview of the Fundamentals

Nov 3, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is a multi-state initiative to create new education standards for students from K-12.  It establishes a progression of performance expectations spanning the elementary through high school years that promote growth in students' abilities to participate in science and engineering.

Rich in content and practice, an NGSS curriculum should delivers a coherent learning experience across disciplines for a grade specific and internationally benchmarked education in STEM subjects.  There are three foundations of the NGSS standards which are the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science and Engineering Practices, which together guide the development of K-12 science curriculum, instruction, and assessments that form the most critical areas of science education.

What are the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas?

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas ( DCI ) are fundamental scientific ideas that form the content of an NGSS curriculum.  They cover four domains: physical science, life science, earth and space science, as well as engineering, technology, and applications of science.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS-Designed Curriculum

Next Generation Science Standards by Grade Level: From Elementary to Middle School

Nov 1, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

As teachers read the NGSS, they see a clear progression of Next Generation Science Standards by grade level.  From kindergarten to middle school, the standards increase in complexity as students grow and learn.  When rooted in next generation pedagogy, the standards expand with the capacity of the student.

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

NGSS Evidence Statements: Developing an Effective Classroom Experience

Oct 11, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

Creating a next generation learning experience with the appropriate challenges is what leads to student learning. NGSS Evidence statements are key to facilitating an interactive student-led learning environment when used properly. 

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Evaluating an NGSS Aligned Science Curriculum: 3 Key Features to Look For

Oct 7, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

The curriculum translates the Next Generation Science Standards into a classroom experience where students can be scientists and engineers. It’s what helps students gain experience performing science investigations and making connections on an everyday basis in order to reach mastery. Over time, they can generalize those skills in a variety of situations.

The curriculum translates the Next Generation Science Standards into a classroom experience where students can be scientists and engineers. It’s what helps students gain experience performing science investigations and making connections on an everyday basis in order to reach mastery. Over time, they can generalize those skills in a variety of situations. 

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Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum

What is the NGSS Three Dimensional Learning Approach?

Sep 23, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

Want to understand the Next Generation Science Standards? In three words: three dimensional learning. Figuring out exactly what those words mean and how they make NGSS different from existing standards will get you much closer to understanding exactly what is expected in the next generation of science education.

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Topics: NGSS

The NGSS 3 Dimensions of Science Learning: Understanding Why They Are Key

Sep 1, 2021 by Francis Vigeant

The STEM cycle of innovation is about relationships between the core STEM components – science, technology, engineering and math.

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Topics: NGSS

Building Cognitive Skills: Thinking Moves for a Classroom or Remote Learning Environment

Sep 1, 2020 by Francis Vigeant

How would you teach differently if you couldn’t give your students a test until a year later? 

Ron Ritchhart posed this question in his book Making Thinking Visible. It’s also one of the favorite quotes of Judy Higgins, a veteran fifth-grade science teacher in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

When she first began teaching, she often wondered why her students would come in on Tuesday and not remember what they learned on Monday. This challenge led her to make changes to create a culture of thinking in her classroom. This culture shift helped her students make meaningful connections, prompting better learning—and retention. “I help my students become thinkers, become curious, and learn how to solve problems; I have seen them be able to do end-of-the-year tests with great confidence because they know how to think,” Higgins says.

How did she do it?

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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?

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

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

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

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

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