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Do teachers have a new role in the NGSS classroom?

Aug 22, 2019 by Sara Goodman

As new science curricula appear in the market claiming to be designed for the Next Generation Science Standards, more and more teachers are starting to ask what their purpose is in a next generation classroom.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, Next Generation Science, Implementing New Science Standards, NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, STEM Education Policy, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

How to Create a Culture of Thinking in the K-8 Science Classroom

Jul 22, 2019 by Sara Goodman

The Next Generation Science Standards call for a significant shift in instruction: students need to actually think, to develop and refine their own ideas and the ideas of their peers.

This leads to a basic question that is surprisingly hard to answer: how do we think? When we ask students to think, what should really be going on in their minds?

The book “Making Thinking Visible” tackles these questions head-on, exploring how and why thinking is so important in the classroom.

As part of their research, the authors came up with eight thinking moves, what they call “high-leverage moves that serve understanding well.” These eight thinking moves are “integral to understanding and without which it would be difficult to say we had developed understanding.”

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Topics: Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Phenomena-Based Learning, Teaching in 3 Dimensions, science education, engineering education

Concrete Ways to Ask Students Better Questions

Jul 16, 2019 by Nicole Lanoue

This blog is the second part of a two-part series titled "Asking Better Questions: The Key to Deeper, More Engaged, More Authentic Instruction." To read the first part, click here.

"Children grow into the intellectual life of those around them. School is no longer about the quick right answer, but about the ongoing mental work of understanding new ideas and information." (Vygotsky 1978)

Given this, the questions that we ask shouldn't be about quick right answers. Instead, they should be about getting students to engage in the mental work—the cognitive load—of understanding new ideas and information, which can come from the individual or other students.

What are some techniques and some practical approaches that you can use?

  1. Start by identifying key big ideas, or concepts, for yourself that are a part of the unit.
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Topics: Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Phenomena-Based Learning, Teaching in 3 Dimensions, science education, engineering education

How To Ask Questions that Lead to More Engaged Students

Jul 10, 2019 by Nicole Lanoue

How do the questions we ask students influence the quality of classroom instruction—and by extension, the depth of students’ learning?

This question is critical for classrooms implementing the Next Generation Science Standards and adaptations of the NGSS. Creating a next generation learning environment requires space for creativity, analysis, and decision-making so that students can develop the control and agency necessary to develop and use the three dimensions of the NGSS—science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.

For students to develop control and agency, they need opportunities to be creative, to independently and collaboratively use the eight science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts to make sense of the disciplinary core ideas, and then have the opportunity to own the result of their efforts, regardless of the outcome.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, Three dimensions, Phenomena-led teaching, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

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

Instructional Leadership is Essential for a Successful NGSS Implementation

Dec 5, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

Last week we talked about why focusing on a building or district's culture is so important for a successful implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

This week we turn our attention to the important role that instructional leadership plays in culture, which in turn affects how successful any implementation will likely be.

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Topics: Next Generation Leadership, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, STEM Education Policy, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

What Does a Successful K12 NGSS Implementation Look Like?

Nov 28, 2018 by Sara Goodman

Fully implementing the Next Generation Science Standards is a growth process. Once you actually have a program that is thoughtful and well developed, it will take three to five years to get to a fully successful and effective implementation.

A quote that resonates when thinking about teaching and learning with the Next Generation Science Standards comes from Angela Duckworth in her book Grit: ‘‘Novelty for the beginner comes in one form and novelty for the expert in another. For the beginner, novelty is 

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Topics: School Climate and Culture, Implementing New Science Standards, Next Generation Leadership, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, STEM Education Policy, 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

How to Incorporate Formative Assessment Into Your Next Generation Science Lesson

Aug 2, 2018 by Sara Goodman

In general, it’s important to have straightforward expectations that you hold students accountable to in each part of a science or engineering lesson.

Students need to understand that they’re being held accountable to these expectations. Straightforward expectations help both parties to engage and provide feedback, and to do so in a way that's meaningful to each other.

Here we’ll walk through a KnowAtom lesson, which has 5 parts that unfold over the course of a week or a week and a half, but these ideas can be applied to any lesson.

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Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Assessments, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

3 Features Shared by All Next Generation Formative Assessments

Jul 26, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

In any part of a next generation science lesson, formative assessments provide useful feedback to both the teacher and the students in the moment.

Formative assessments can come anywhere in a lesson, so they can be verbal, written, electronic, and take a variety of different forms. However, they all share three characteristics.

3 Features Share By All Formative Assessments

  1. Similar to a milestone, formative assessments occur in the moment as students are engaged in making sense of phenomena, which includes planning and carrying out investigations. This allows students to incorporate the feedback into their thinking and their work, becoming more aware of their own learning process.
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Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Assessments, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

Why Are Formative Assessments Essential to Effective Next Generation Science Instruction?

Jul 19, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

The Next Generation Science Standards are all about students developing the skills to work with ideas, both their own and those of others.

That means that it's not sufficient to know about something. Students have to be able to form an opinion, have an idea, to work with that idea to be able to inform themselves, and also to refine the idea over time, perhaps through experimentation or through prototyping.

This is a significant shift from traditional science instruction, one that will require changes from both teachers and students. 

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Topics: NGSS Assessments, NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction

How Do Formative Assessments Benefit Elementary and Middle School Students?

Jul 13, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

Formative assessment needs to be a key part of any next generation science instruction.

At its core, a formative assessment is an opportunity for useful insight on behalf of both parties—the teacher and the students. Often, formative assessments look a lot like a conversation because they’re bilateral, with both parties offering ideas, listening, and acting as a critical skeptic to the other.

Benefits to Students

Students get frequent, focused feedback that is useful for improving their learning in the moment.

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Topics: NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Assessments, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, Teaching in 3 Dimensions

5 Concrete Steps to Ensure Students Are Making Deep Connections

Jun 13, 2018 by Sara Goodman

Socratic dialogue is an important way to get students to begin working with their own ideas and the ideas of others, clarifying what they think and why they think it, and then refining their thoughts as a result of the discussion.

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Topics: Socratic dialogue, 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

Lawrence Public Schools Sees Uptick in Science Performance Among English Learners

May 30, 2018 by Nicole Lanoue

SUMMARY:

Lawrence is one of 26 “Gateway Cities” in Massachusetts, which means it is a mid-sized urban center that was once home to industry but struggled as its manufacturing jobs disappeared. Gateway cities are home to the largest numbers of English Learners (EL) in the state. In the case of Lawrence Public Schools, 71.3% of students' first language is not English.

In 2015-2016, Lawrence Public Schools adopted KnowAtom’s K-8 science and engineering curriculum and hands-on resources because of KnowAtom’s success in helping other large urban districts significantly improve the science learning outcomes of all students, including EL students.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction

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