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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

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

5 Features of All Socratic Dialogues

May 16, 2018 by Francis Vigeant


To understand why Socratic dialogue is so important in a next generation science classroom, it’s important to first describe what exactly a Socratic dialogue is—and equally importantly, what it is not.

What a Socratic Dialogue Is:

There are 5 key features of all genuine Socratic dialogues.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

STEM Industry Wants Employees Who Can Think

Dec 7, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Over the past year, various industry leaders in Massachusetts have joined with an unlikely group: elementary educators. Their purpose: begin a conversation about why it is important to hook students onto science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) early on.

Consensus emerged on the importance of developing not just students’ technical abilities, but on "softer" skills as well: curiosity about the world around them, the ability to think on their feet, and resilience in the face of challenges. For many in the industry, hiring employees who can apply higher order thinking to any challenge is far more important than hiring employees who have a specific skill set.

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Topics: STEM

Should Every Student Learn STEM?

Dec 1, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Someone recently asked me: "If only 4 percent of students will become scientists, engineers, or mathematicians, why should time, effort, and resources go toward helping the other 96 percent learn science, technology, engineering, and math?"

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Topics: STEM

Why is Alignment More Difficult with Next Generation Science Standards?

Nov 30, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

With the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) at or near the classroom implementation stage in most states, principals and teachers have come together to discuss their interpretations. Everyone involved is doing their best to understand where they need to be in September.

The problem facing all educators, early elementary through high school, is that few classrooms have ever taught science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) effectively. While "science classes" have been taught PK-12 for decades, many educators are now questioning if they've ever really taught students science, and if not, what effective STEM instruction is and what it looks like.

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Topics: NGSS

STEM that Competes with the Street

Nov 21, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

It’s been 52 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, and 50 long years since the march on Selma. But today, a half-century later, a quarter of African American and Latino Americans still live in poverty, with the economic—and educational—reality even dimmer for young black and Latino men.

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Topics: STEM

Are You Modeling a STEM Mindset?

Nov 20, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

After years of research, Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck seems to have found a way you can develop grit and perseverance in your students: instill in them a "growth" mindset where they see challenges and mistakes as opportunities for real learning. Luckily there is already one subject that lends itself to the discovery, questioning, and inquiry that sparks this type of learning: STEM. 

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Topics: STEM

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