Implementing a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-based curriculum transforms educators from transmitters of information to facilitators of learning. KnowAtom’s innovative approach to teaching science helps transform classrooms into collaborative teaching laboratories – where students take the lead in their own learning process. That’s just what Northeastern University researcher Dr. Tracy L. Waters found when evaluating fourth and fifth grade science teachers implementing KnowAtom – measurable improvements in student learning, as well as changes in teaching methods, as educators began to give students more responsibility in the learning process.
To achieve these dynamic results, teachers, students, and administrators need personalized support.
That’s why KnowAtom serves as a long-term partner, providing professional development opportunities that match the innovative new curriculum and helping administrators build school communities where best practices are shared and teachers are both supported and engaged. According to Waters’ research, implementing NGSS-based science curricula along with the creation of a collaborative professional development program for teachers resulted in improved classroom behavior, increased collaboration and stronger student engagement levels.
KnowAtom’s professional development model offers educators a collaborative platform to develop their skills and share best practices.
Using the KnowAtom curriculum, teachers lead their classes in the building of knowledge through authentic, skills-based science and engineering activities. Students apply hands-on scientific practices in an inquiry-based and collaborative setting. This new learning model asks teachers to transform their practices to align with NGSS standards and rethink their attitudes and beliefs about teaching and learning science. In the classroom, changing to a learner-centered approach to delivering career-based content daily can be a huge change for educators.
When Waters looked at 4th and 5th grade science classes using KnowAtom’s curriculum for the first time, teachers shared that their students were gaining a much deeper understanding of the core curriculum through collaborative learning and student-led science investigations. Students actively engaged in a wide variety of activities, including journaling, report writing, poster design, and building media presentations. They explained concepts and argued their positions, taking the lead in their science education. Together, the students practiced 21st century career skills in action.
KnowAtom's Partnership Approach to Professional Development and Curriculum was Key to Success
To support teachers in implementing its next-generation curriculum, KnowAtom goes beyond selling a product and forms long-term partnerships with teachers and administrators. Together, schools develop personalized professional development ecosystems that support the introduction, implementation, evaluation and long-term success of NGSS-based teaching models. In her research, Waters evaluated a district-wide model of professional development in partnership with KnowAtom, designed to create new ‘teacher leaders’ who returned to their schools to train and mentor colleagues. Researchers found that this new model of professional development helped create a strong and sustainable network of trusted professional development leaders within each school.
One reason the professional development arm of KnowAtom’s model is so important is highlighted in Waters’ research. She found that as teachers began to see the positive evidence of KnowAtom curriculum implementation, in measurable changes to student learning outcomes, they changed their own beliefs in the value of the program, in how to teach science, and in how much students can learn and achieve. This served as a catalyst for long-term change in teaching practices. Because implementing and evaluating a full curriculum change is a lengthy endeavor and research shows that seeing the changes that can result helps teachers change their own behaviors, it is essential that educators have the tools they need to implement NGSS-based teaching methods, share best practices, and feel supported through the process.
Waters research shows us that in practice, implementing KnowAtom’s curriculum combined with strong professional development and support for educators can help re-engage students, accelerate learning, and deliver measurable outcomes. While NGSS-based curriculums are based on decades of education research, her insightful look at the implementation of KnowAtom’s curriculum in one school district helps show us a well-defined path from research into everyday classroom practice.