KnowAtom's Blog

Encourage Deeper Learning with Creative NGSS Storylines

Jan 8, 2023 by Francis Vigeant

The act of storytelling has been used to communicate information for centuries. The science behind its success is clear. Storytelling helps audiences connect personally to the subject matter, remember key facts, understand complex ideas, and learn from one another’s experiences. Research from Uri Hasson, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University, showed recently that when we hear a story unfold, our brain waves start synchronizing with the storyteller’s. 

Teachers see these results in their classrooms every day. When we connect classroom learning to real-world phenomena and engage students in critical thinking, hands-on learning, and personal reflection, we create the same type of high-level engagement as storytellers. When we challenge our students to ask questions, solve problems, and connect their classroom learning to real-world events, we use Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) storylines to bring learning to life.

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Topics: NGSS Storylines

Color, Symbol, Image: A Thinking Routine to Map Student Understanding

Dec 4, 2022 by Naamonde Williams

“Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world.” - Jerry Saltz

What is the Color, Symbol, Image Thinking Routine

A powerful way to keep students at the center of your instructional practice is to provide a diverse set of tools to enhance the expression of understanding. In the science classroom, students must organize ideas, make connections, draw conclusions, and reason with evidence. The Color, Symbol, Image routine asks students to engage in deeper cognitive work through abstract thinking to select a color, symbol, and image to represent the essence of concepts or ideas. Students use this routine as a framework to think abstractly and synthesize new ideas by connecting what they already know to new information and developing creative representations of their thinking.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

Tug of War: Thinking Moves to Explore the Complexity of Dilemmas

Nov 15, 2022 by Tosha Gros

“Most of all, have the confidence in every learner’s ability to think and your capacity to nurture that thinking. The results will amaze and energize you.” - Ron Ritchhart

Why are thinking routines useful in the classroom?

Visible thinking routines actively engage students in independent thinking, creativity, and imagination by engaging students’ thinking moves. Teachers utilize visible thinking routines to support students in building a habit of critical thinking and confidence in the classroom.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

Critical Thinking and the Connect, Extend, Challenge Thinking Routine

Nov 6, 2022 by Samantha O'neil

Science teachers use thinking routines to encourage students to think critically about big ideas. When students learn how to extend their reasoning using thinking moves, they are challenged to go below the surface and build a deeper understanding of scientific ideas and STEM principles. When classroom requirements go beyond memorizing facts and vocabulary, our students are free to wonder and to ask and answer their own questions. The Connect, Extend, Challenge thinking routine provides a sequence of steps that support critical thinking, student-centered learning, and personal discovery in the classroom.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

Explore Change and Possibility with the What Can Be Thinking Routine

Oct 23, 2022 by Amanda Flocchini

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

What Are Thinking Routines?

Thinking routines allow you to give your students the tools they need to make their thinking visible. Instead of telling students what to think, we can introduce routines that students can use as tools to become skillful independent thinkers.

Thinking routines work best when they are just that - routines. Using thinking routines with your students will create habits for them to be successful lifelong learners.

The What Can Be thinking routine asks students to discuss unfolding complexities and to imagine the future opportunities created by the unfolding situation. By unpacking complexity, students can engage more deeply with a concept. This creates opportunities for skillful thinking both in and out of the classroom.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

Claim, Support, Question Thinking Routine and Reasoning With Evidence

Oct 16, 2022 by Tatum Moser

"The more you know, the more you realize you don't know." Aristotle

What is the Claim, Support, Question Thinking Routine?

The Claim, Support, Question thinking routine helps students develop key thinking moves like identifying generalizations, offering counterarguments, reasoning with evidence, and asking questions. Created by Ron Ritchhart and researchers at Project Zero, this thinking routine shows students the importance of identifying, understanding, and making claims based on reasoning and evidence. Strong claims, sound reasoning, and thoughtful follow-up questions ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of topics and concepts. The more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. This helps us to understand that we always need to ask new questions as our understanding evolves.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

Inspire Skillful Listening with The Explanation Game Thinking Routine

Oct 9, 2022 by Tatum Moser

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” - John Berger

What is the Explanation Game?

The Explanation Game thinking routine, developed by Ron Richtart and researchers at Project Zero, supports students in increasing their understanding of a concept by crafting multiple explanations based on evidence. The routine is designed to push students’ thinking as they explore complex topics and attempt to understand the whole by examining various parts and features.

Flexible in its application across subjects, you can use The Explanation Game to deconstruct almost anything, including objects, complex processes, systems, or documents. Engaging in this thinking routine will help students learn to work together toward understanding why something is the way it is. In addition to observing, crafting explanations based on evidence, and asking questions, students will also pay close attention to effective listening and how it can provide a path to deeper learning.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine for Creative Classroom Learning

Oct 2, 2022 by Tatum Moser

"To acquire knowledge, one must study. But to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” Marilyn vos Savant

What is the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine?

Ron Ritchhart and the researchers at Project Zero developed the See, Think, Wonder thinking routine to support students to zoom in and experience the purpose and benefits of careful observation in the learning process.

This thinking routine uses visual imagery, artifacts, and media to engage students to carefully notice the different parts and features of objects, ideas, phenomena, etc. See, Think, Wonder engages students by allowing for open exploration of a concept rather than the more common teacher-directed delivery of information and knowledge transfer. Creating a meaningful purpose for close observation and description of a new idea or concept is also the first step toward developing thoughtful explanations and interpretations and identifying areas of further inquiry.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

What Thinking Moves and Routines Can Help Students to be Successful Learners?

Sep 25, 2022 by Tatum Moser

 “The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.”        -Elbert Hubbard

Why do students need to develop thinking moves?

Enabling a child to become an independent and motivated learner is one of our most important responsibilities. 

While it won’t happen overnight, incorporating experiences where students explore different thinking moves to increase their understanding of a concept, claim, or situation, can pave the way to deeper learning and transform your science classroom. Skillful thinking increases student competency to perform deeper cognitive work, raising their level of engagement and making your teaching more joyful and effective.

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Topics: Thinking Routines

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: Science Curriculum, Hands-On Tools

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

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: 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: Next Generation Science Standards

5 Steps to Use NGSS Phenomena More Effectively in Your Classroom

Nov 9, 2021 by Sara Goodman

There are 5 steps educators can adopt in their own classrooms to use NGSS phenomena most effectively in the classroom.

Step 1: Find a real-world phenomenon.

Phenomena are observable events where using ideas, based on evidence, we can explain or predict their occurrence. In accordance with NGSS, instructors will begin their lessons by selecting an anchor phenomenon for discussion. Note that NGSS phenomena are complex and based in real-world context. They represent questions we can’t answer in a single experiment or problems we can’t solve in one round of prototyping. They also should relate to one or more of the standards you plan to explore in the lesson/unit.

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Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Phenomena-Based Learning

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: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Next Generation Science Standards

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