Teaching with the Next Generation
Science Standards

Feb 1, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Proof: Rigor with KnowAtom Get Results

Phenomena driven instruction in NGSS-aligned classrooms clearly demonstrates that using these methods creates significantly higher percentages of advanced and proficient students versus their respective state's average.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, STEM

Jan 11, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What Is Reasonable for Science Implementation and Sustainability?

The numbers you’re about to read might surprise you, but they have been collected carefully and are accurate representations of what you could be spending on high-quality STEM curriculum, provided you have a willingness to break out of that 7-year cycle.

The cost of implementing and maintaining KnowAtom is significantly lower than a district typically pays for ongoing STEM curriculum and materials costs.

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Topics: STEM

Jan 6, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

How to Transition from 7-Year Textbook Adoptions to a Yearly Science Budget K-12

Transitioning from the 7-year textbook adoption cycle most districts are familiar with to a yearly support approach may feel challenging at first, but it's perfectly possible. The first step is to capture current costs as a set point for what the district is already spending, while the second step is to determine what is reasonable for initial implementation of a new curriculum and sustainability of that curriculum over time.

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Topics: STEM

Dec 14, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Using Science Time-On-Learning Well

While time-on-learning is an important element, you have to use it well in order to make a difference in student learning. That requires an intentional scope and sequence that is grade-specific. Each unit must support teachers through a carefully scaffolded series of units and lessons that builds on student understanding and is supported by the learning that came before.

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Topics: STEM

Dec 9, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

More Than a Task: Learning STEM

As you help students engage with material as scientists and engineers in a next generation science setting, a cadence begins to emerge. It begins with nonfiction reading, then transitions to Socratic dialogue. This means a teacher is not projecting information to students, but is instead asking higher order questions that force students to make concept-to-concept, concept-to-self and concept-to-world connections. Then the progression transitions to student team investigations, where the students are actually planning how they're going to answer a question as a scientist or solve a problem as an engineer. That's what these standards are really focused on. They are performance expectations that create a classroom environment in which students can actually engage in the practices.

In order to bring the three dimensions to life in a science and engineering context, the teacher leads the class from nonfiction reading to Socratic dialogue, students plan and carry out investigations, and teams form conclusions which they then debrief about as a class.

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Topics: STEM

Nov 30, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Grit is a Culture

Grit is a culture that as teachers we can create in our classrooms. As educators or administrators, it's a culture that we can create in our schools and districts. If that grit is truly a culture that permeates your buildings and district, it will instill a set of values that imbues classrooms at all grade levels, is shared by janitors and secretaries, and informs the school's entire approach to education. A culture of grit is a culture that supports determination and direction, passion and that perseverance. You'll find that if you value these ideals, your team will become self-aware and will begin to support itself and its members in excellent STEM teaching.

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Topics: STEM

Nov 16, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Activities That Encourage Grit

A traditional model of goal-setting in which hatching duck eggs for "fun" is automatically integrated into the life science unit, which therefore has to be set in the spring, and is propped up by low-level activities such as worksheets, reading, and vocabulary. From there, many teachers steeped in the traditional model follow a trail from getting grades, teaching standards, covering the test, and passing tests, believing this means students ultimately being college and career ready. Unfortunately, statistics show that our students are not college and career ready.

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Topics: STEM

Nov 7, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

STEM as a Cycle

The Next Generation Science Standards help facilitate the purpose and passion needed for a valuable learning environment. STEM is a cycle, and at each step of that cycle—and during each iteration—the standards help ensure that students see and understand that purpose.

STEM is a cycle, moving seamlessly from science—in which we gain knowledge that enables development of new technology—to engineering, in which we develop technology that solves human problems and make the study of science more effective. In between are technology, math, and knowledge.

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Topics: STEM

Nov 2, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

KnowAtom Interview with iRobot CEO Colin Angle

Today I am proud to share a fascinating interview with iRobot CEO Colin Angle about artificial intelligence and its contribution to effective, engaging STEM education.

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Topics: STEM

Oct 31, 2016 by Francis Vigeant

Defining What Matters

You will find all types of tribes in school systems, but large urban systems tend to concentrate members of tribes 1 through 4, while average school districts range from stage 2 to edging into stage 5. Suburban and rural districts tend to span stages 2 to 5.

Which range of tribes you find in a school is largely determined by the principal and the culture they've developed over time. But there are certainly other factors at play. While it's hard to say why large urban districts skew downward and rural districts skew upward, part of the reason may lie in the fact that in a suburban or rural environment, you have more permission for risk-taking. In a rural environment, after all, there are limited replacements for teachers, so they may have more job security, which allows them to feel safer taking risks.

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Topics: STEM

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