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Challenging How Schools Ask Students to Think in the K-8 Classroom

Sep 1, 2023 by Staff Writer

Changing the "what" and "how" in science education doesn't have nearly as much impact as looking at the "why."

SALEM, Mass., ( - Typical conversations about education reform revolve around things like how we teach (education policy) or what we teach (the curriculum). But today, according to Dr. Ron Ritchhart, world-renowned educator, researcher, and author, and Francis Vigeant, KnowAtom's Founder and CEO, changing the "what" and "how" in K-8 science education under NGSS doesn't have nearly as much impact as looking at the "why."

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Topics: Press Release, NGSS-Designed Curriculum

How Thinking Moves Bring NGSS Storylines to Life

May 16, 2023 by Staff Writer

The idea of using learning tools to think isn’t new, but what storyline pedagogy provides students is a creative place to practice their critical thinking skills. Students who repeatedly work together as a team, speak in front of their class, and provide feedback to their peers – get better at it. Engaging in NGSS storylines in the classroom gives students a chance to take the lead in their own learning process, while practicing hands-on investigation skills and thinking moves in the process.

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Topics: Thinking Moves, NGSS Storylines

How Important is Routine and Structure in NGSS Storylines?

May 9, 2023 by Staff Writer

When we talk about storyline pedagogy, we describe the individual lessons, or ‘episodes’ that make up a storyline as unscripted opportunities for student-led discovery. But, without the frameworks and classroom routines in place to prepare students for this next-generation model of instruction, we’re not setting them up for success. In fact, without strong routines and structures in place in the classroom, the idea of ‘unscripted discovery’ may make teachers and their students uncomfortable. That energy, however, is what sparks scientific discovery. Students need the time, space, and structure to create, to interact with phenomena personally, and to make mistakes and learn from them – for deeper learning to occur. With frameworks and processes in place, students and their teachers have common tools to engage critical thinking, personal reflection, and hands-on investigation.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, Thinking Routines, NGSS Storylines

How NGSS Storylines Shift the Roles of Students and Teachers

May 2, 2023 by Staff Writer

When students own their own learning, they are more engaged and personally invested in the outcome. One of the keys to implementing storyline pedagogy effectively is allowing the students’ own questions to drive the storyline. In this model, teachers are co-creating an understanding with their students. For students, it is an understanding of the lesson’s big ideas, and for teachers, it is an understanding of the dimensions of their student’s learning. To engage in deeper learning, students need a safe space where intellectual risk taking is protected and encouraged. Processes and frameworks can be put in place to allow them to be creative, take risks, and create on their own. As co-creators in the classroom, a teacher’s role is different, but even more important than transferring knowledge. 

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, NGSS Storylines

How Important are Generative Questions in NGSS Storylines?

Apr 25, 2023 by Staff Writer

Storyline pedagogy gives students a chance to decide what they want to learn more about. To take the lead in the classroom, our students need to know how to ask good questions. Teachers can model intellectual curiosity to help students learn how to think more critically. Asking authentic questions, ones that we don’t know the answer to, is an important part of storyline pedagogy. For example, ‘What do you think of when you think of wind,’ is an authentic question. When compared to the question, ‘What is wind,’ this example highlights how asking better questions encourages students to connect personally with science phenomena and think deeper about its impact on their life. The first question is both authentic and generative, because it sparks even more questions. Generative questions help power student-led investigation and NGSS storylines, as the students build knowledge around an anchor phenomenon and pick the next question they want to investigate. 

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, NGSS Storylines

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