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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

Iraqi Teachers Adopt KnowAtom to Create a Next Generation Science Experience for IDP Students K-8

Feb 17, 2019 by Sara Goodman

When Mahma was a child, he dreamed of being a teacher.

However, poverty made that dream out of reach to Mahma as he grew up. Instead, he became a farmer in Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq.

Then in 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked Sinjar and surrounding villages in what has been internationally recognized as the 74th attempted genocide of the Yazidi people. Tens of thousands of Yazidis, including Mahma, fled to escape ISIS.

Now, almost five years later, hundreds of Yazidi adults and thousands of Yazidi children have found hope in an unexpected place—inside the camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) where they’ve ended up.

This hope has come from an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for K-8 students that has taken root in the U.N. camps and surrounding schools. The STEM program, launched in 2015, is aimed at bringing relevant and lifelong skills to children living in the camps while at the same time helping them build skills to cope with conflict.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, international, Innovation, Inquiry Based Learning, STEM Education Policy, science education, engineering education, KRI

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 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

Where do NGSS and ELA Standards Intersect?

Nov 16, 2017 by Maryellen deLacy

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy are the next generation of K–12 literacy standards.

In grades 6-12, Common Core State Standards require teachers of history/social studies, science, and technical subjects to use their content area expertise to help students and ELA teachers meet the particular challenges of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in their respective fields.

For this reason, there are a number of crossovers between the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core ELA standards.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards

How to Avoid a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Professional Development

Nov 13, 2017 by Nicole Lanoue

To implement the Next Generation Science Standards well, prepare yourself for the major shifts in teaching and learning that are involved in your classroom, your building, and your district.

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Topics: NGSS, Professional Development, Implementing New Science Standards

Developing Curriculum for the Next Generation Classroom

Nov 8, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are changing the K-12 science classroom. Memorizing facts and recalling demonstrations aren't enough under these new standards.

Classrooms now need to focus on engaging students in the practices of science and engineering, teaching students to analyze, evaluate, problem-solve, and create – facilitating the development of higher order thinking skills through STEM experiences.

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Topics: NGSS

What Are the Next Generation Science Standards?

Nov 6, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

When it comes to the Next Generation Science Standards, educators sometimes have more questions than answers. What are the NGSS all about? Why do they exist? Why is the approach to science and inquiry methods changing? The answer lies in the STEM cycle.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards

3 Steps to Make Sure Your Professional Development Supports Teachers as they Implement NGSS

Nov 2, 2017 by Sara Goodman

Educators sometimes underestimate the shifts in teacher practices that are required under the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Topics: NGSS, 3-dimensions, Professional Development, Implementing New Science Standards

Concrete Ways to Maximize Your NGSS Implementation

Sep 27, 2017 by Sara Goodman

The Next Generation Science Standards call for dramatic shifts in teaching and learning. It will be important to go about implementation carefully and thoughtfully.

There are concrete steps that educators and administrators can take to ensure a successful implementation.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, Implementing New Science Standards

5 Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them When Implementing NGSS in the Classroom

Sep 25, 2017 by Nicole Lanoue

The Next Generation Science Standards envision students learning as scientists and engineers. This is really a new approach to learning that sets students up to be critical thinkers and innovators. It's no longer about doing science but about being scientists; not doing engineering but being engineers.

As classrooms begin to implement NGSS and work to achieve this vision, there are inevitably some challenges that will come to the forefront.

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Topics: NGSS, 3-dimensions, Implementing New Science Standards

How to Combat Churn When Implementing NGSS

Sep 21, 2017 by Nicole Lanoue

Every year, teachers move. Sometimes they move within their schools to teach a different grade or subject matter, and sometimes they change schools entirely.

Called churn, this is a very real issue in public schools. This is common with both administrators and teachers, and it affects both the speed of implementation and student achievement levels.

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Topics: NGSS, School Climate and Culture, Blog, Implementing New Science Standards

Next Generation of Misinformation Connect Missouri Blogger & California Science Parent

Jun 12, 2016 by Maryellen deLacy

The digital age, unfortunately, sometimes just makes misinformation easier. With the implementation of the new Next Generation Science Standards in many states, angry parents and opponents are calling for a return to old ways. They base these saber-rattling demands on assertions that the NGSS standards are based not on science or reality, but rather on a backward mode of thinking that will lead to a “lost generation of graduates,” as one angry parent put it.

His rant, posted on the Missouri Education Watchdog blog, kicks off with the statement, “Common Core Standards are part of a larger education reform package that aims to privatize public education and lower our California standards in the name of short term profits and long term investments by short changing our children of an education and catching these remedial students later on at the college level or when they drop out of high school.” 

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Topics: NGSS, California, Missouri, state-level standards

Embracing Vermont's New Science Standards

Jun 5, 2016 by Maryellen deLacy

In an opinion piece written for the Burlington Free Press, science department chair and environmental science and chemistry teacher Jennifer Stainton argued that educators in the state of Vermont have embraced the new science standards wholeheartedly, and are already changing their teaching practices to account for these new standards. 

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, state-level standards

Illinois Science Educators Recognize Need for New Unified Curriculum

Jun 3, 2016 by Maryellen deLacy



Illinois adopted the Next Generation Science Standards in February of 2014 and as such was one of the first states to do so. Illinois has been committed to these standards from the beginning, acting as a Lead State Partner to help these standards into being and therefore provide a new, unified approach to science throughout the state. 

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, state-level standards

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