Teaching with the Next Generation
Science Standards

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

Jun 4, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Designing Classrooms for Next Generation Science and Engineering Success

We frequently hear statements like this: "We teach earth science in 6th grade." While assertions of this nature are now so common and entrenched in the educational tradition as to avoid question by most educators, that shouldn’t be the case. Because again, what happens if a student wasn't there for 6th grade? What if a student was there but they had some home issues or personal issues? In a one-and-done unit, that student has missed their chance to experience this entire facet of science learning, and indeed, of our world.

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Topics: Next Generation Science

Jun 2, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Differences Between Next Generation “Aligned” vs. Designed

In short, NGSS-aligned curriculum does not demonstrate the same depth of thinking as curriculum intentionally designed to help students think critically, meet the performance expectations, and step into the shoes of scientists and engineers. To see why, it’s helpful to look at specific differences between aligned and designed curriculum, then discuss how we might go about designing classrooms for true alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

May 31, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Habits of Mind and the Classroom Experience

“Habits of mind” is a buzzword these days, but we shouldn’t dismiss it because of that. By way of quick background, the Habits of mind are a set of 16 life skills related to problem solving, relationship building, creativity and so forth. Without going into all of them, they include abilities such as persisting, managing impulsivity, thinking flexibility, thinking about thinking (metacognition), striving for accuracy, gathering data with all senses, taking responsible risks, and so on.

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Topics: Habits of Mind

May 28, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

How 5E’s Become Non-Linear & Iterative

In order to properly prepare students for mastery and meeting the NGSS performance expectations, we must change our perception of the 5Es from a linear process to an iterative spiral. As you will see, each phase now includes multiple Es each, linking together one to the next. When you reach the 5th stage, the cycle is not “complete,” but ready rather to inform a new iteration. The breakdown goes like this:

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Topics: 5E Instructional Model

May 26, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Making More Effective Use of the 5E instructional model under NGSS

The 5Es are still a valid instructional model for STEM education, but in order to ensure that it can help mold students who meet the new three-dimensional Next Generation Science Standards, we need to adjust what each E standards for, as well as understand the true nature of science and engineering and how that informs the new instructional model.

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Topics: 5E Instructional Model

May 24, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Does Phenomena-Led Teaching and Learning Fit the Old K-W-L Chart?

So does phenomena-led teaching and learning fit the old K-W-L chart? Is it practical that 30 to 40 students in a room can articulate what they “know.” Is that really a useful activity? Do they even know what they want to learn, and if so, how would you even prepare for that? Moreover, how well can you really summarize that body of knowledge as a group, especially if you haven't encountered the investigative phenomena to start with?

The standard K-W-L chart, which asks students to list out what they already know, what they want to learn in the lesson and what they learned at the end.

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Topics: Phenomena-led teaching

May 20, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Connecting Phenomena with the Nature of Science & Engineering

The “elaborating” piece of the 5Es is about students making concept-self, concept-to-concept, and concept-to-world connections, as well as relating anchor phenomena to their investigative phenomena.

Before we explore that, though, let’s define anchor phenomena, which are complex, real-world situations. They can be investigated in the classroom through an investigation that students or student teams have planned, and are a way of encountering just a thread of often much more complex ideas.

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Topics: Phenomena-led teaching

May 17, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Traditional Versus Next Generation Models of Instruction

In a traditional model of instruction, content flows to a teacher, who acts as a content specialist: explaining, demonstrating and modeling for students to watch and listen. A student is expected to take all of that in and be able to repeat it, summarize it or show it back to the teacher. If what the teacher has given matches what the student has given, that's “proficiency.”

In the traditional model of science instruction, the teacher is the gatekeeper standing between students and the content. Their role in this scenario is to model facts, demonstrate phenomena and explain to students “what’s going on.” For their part, students are expected to recall the facts, repeat demonstrations and summarize what they see.

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Topics: 5E Instructional Model

May 14, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What is the 5E Instructional Model?

The 5Es are an instructional model encompassing the phases Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate, steps which educators have traditionally taught students to move through in phases. First, instructors open a lesson with an activity or question meant to engage students, snag their interest and offer the opportunity for them to share what they already know on the subject. This phase might include helping them make connections between their preexisting knowledge base and the new ideas that will come down the pipeline in the lesson or unit.

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Topics: 5E Instructional Model

May 12, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Introduction to the  5E Instructional Model

The widely established 5E teaching sequence – which includes the progressive stages Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate – is helpful for informing the design of science programs, units and lessons. However, it’s important to pose the question: Does their current incarnation actually work to support the Next Generation Science Standards and deepen STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning in our students, or does it require adaptation in order to best serve NGSS?

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Topics: 5E Instructional Model

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