Tag Archives: NGSS

NGSStweeps: A Look Inside NGSS Classrooms

 

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Coming soon, @NGSS_tweeps!

As an educator, I am always curious about how other educators approach lessons, units, content areas, etc. I have never walked away from a peer observation or a student teacher/practicum experience without feeling like I better understood how to improve my own practice. To see how others do things makes it more clear why we do our own practices and find areas where we can continue to grow. I started blogging in my first year teaching to connect with a larger PLN and grow my practice. Blogging is great, but I still want more. I want to see inside the classrooms of those embracing NGSS. It is very vulnerable to share. As reflective practitioners, we are so critical of our own work. So, many of us still stand guarded in sharing our day-to-day adventures in implementing new standards.

 

My friend, Patrick Goff (@BMSscienceteach), has developed an idea for the NGSS community based off of accounts like @biotweeps. This idea will bridge this gap! Accounts like @biotweeps, let the community join in on what is happening in a biologist’s lab/research/field for a week and share in the experience. @NGSS_tweeps aims to do the same for the NGSS community.

I am so excited to support Patrick and others who share their professional experiences to benefit the NGSS community.

No matter where you are in your journey with NGSS, we can all learn from each other. Together, we can grow professionally and improve scientific literacy. Our students will even benefit from participating because they too will enjoy showing what they are DOING because NGSS gives them the skills to THINK and DO like scientists!

Join us in opening the doors on NGSS classrooms and celebrating the journey of implementing NGSS by following @NGSS_tweeps and consider hosting!

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Why NGSS?

 
It’s funny I am just now experiencing this firsthand, but, tonight, I met my first parent that didn’t believe what we were doing in our NGSS classrooms is better. I have talked to many other parents who are so impressed by the changes and wish they had these courses instead of their drill and kill style experiences. Yet, as always, the negative is what I bring home.

So, as I sit here wondering how I failed, if I am doing the right thing by changing so much, I am reminded about the reason I became a teacher. Our system is broken. The way it always has been is not working for many students. Good students, top scorers with great GPAs are arriving in college campuses around the country unprepared. Jobs in high need fields like high tech manufacturing are going unfilled. Students are being left out of science education because of their life experiences and circumstances. Bottom line – what we have been doing is not meeting the need of students or our country. 

I do not believe, however, that I have arrived as an educator or I have it all figured out. But, I believe that I am part of a movement to make changes that improve science education for all students. I am making a difference for the students in my room today and making strides to better prepare students for the ever changing future. I believe in NGSS and I believe we can keep doing better for all students. 

Because ALL Kids Are Worth It

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I have always had a soft spot for the outsiders, the outliers, the underrated, the left out. Even as a privileged student there were times I still felt out of place and that education wasn’t designed for me. I know that students in my school today feel that way to one degree or another. From the day I decided to become a teacher, I have made it my goal to be a teacher for ALL students. That is why I was delighted to learn about the focus on ALL students when the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed.

For so long I have heard, “I’m not good at science” and “science isn’t for me”. I can’t wait to tell kids that this science is for them. It is not the goal of the NGSS to make every student the next great scientist, but what it is there to do is to make science an option for all students.

I have been working with the NGSS my whole teaching career (this is my 3rd year teaching), but it wasn’t until this summer when I joined my friends (Tricia Shelton, @Tdishelton, and Jessica Holman, @bchsholman) in a Twitter book study on the book “Science for All Students” that I truly learned the depth of consideration given to all students when developing our new standards.

This realization has only strengthened my resolve that the NGSS is going to improve science learning for all students and that the hard work currently being done in science classrooms is worth it – because ALL kids are worth it.

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How I Plan to Eat an Elephant Named NGSS

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Change doesn’t come easy for me. I embrace it. I encourage it. I survive it. But it does not come easily.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were in review as I trained to become a teacher and released as I was hired for my first Science teaching position. So, in theory, the standards I am expected to teach have not changed in my career. However, the thinking behind the NGSS is so fundamentally different than how I was taught that I face the same shift as veteran teachers. One benefit I might have is that I am still developing my arsenal of strategies, units, and activities, rather than having to evaluate my favorite “go-tos” for their fit to NGSS.

As I learn more about the NGSS, the more I realize I don’t know. The biggest obstacle seems to be finding consistency with the 3-Dimensional Learning called for by NGSS. Traditionally, the focus has been on the core concepts, now called the Disciplinary Core Ideas. The shift comes as we add 2 more intentional dimensions to Science learning, the Science and Engineering Practices and Cross-Cutting Concepts. As a teacher, I am intimidated by the addition, but as a scientist and learner I am excited by their inclusion.

The practices used by scientists and the interdependence of concepts were only illuminated through my research at the college level. I learned these by doing. In my lab, I was expected to know the content and the connections and perform. Much of the time, I found myself chasing down information to fill the gaps in my education. It is because of this that I am thrilled to give students the opportunity to have these experiences during high school and be able to excel in later endeavors. If I had been taught with the lens provided by NGSS, I know the transition to collegiate research would have been a breeze.

Now, I know very few of my students want to go on to be science researchers, but I also know the approach to learning described by the 3-dimensions is applicable beyond just Science. Being able to ask the questions, define problems, analyze and interpret data/information, identify patterns and cause and effect relationships, are all skills that will further any student as both a citizen and professional.

The complicated part is also the most important part – implementing the necessary changes to accomplish the goals of NGSS. This is my elephant. How am I going to eat this elephant? Same way as any elephant, one bite at a time.

First bite – using the driving questions found in the NGSS Storylines to guide student exploration of scientific phenomena. Gulp.

Here we go!

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Time to Step Up at Teach to Lead 2014 Louisville, KY

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I am honored to have been “anointed teacher leader” by my department chair. I am even more excited to collaborate with her on building a community of adult learners sharing the journey of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

This weekend, we made our first steps as a team toward developing a structured plan for implementation by attending the Teach to Lead Summit in Louisville, KY. While participating in this conference, I was able to network and be inspired by the talented teacher leaders collaborating to improve education for all.

A new era of education seems to be approaching and I am excited to rebel against the tradition of leaving the classroom to pursue leadership and instead champion the hybrid role of teacher leader or “teacherpreneur”.

Thank you to all who continue to inspire me to be better everyday!

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