2/13/2018 0 Comments
If you're as deeply involved in science education research as I am, it's more than likely that you're already aware of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)--at least of their general existence.
If you're more involved in the act of science education itself (in a classroom, at home, maybe in a library) and not so much in reading 400 page documents on your Tuesday night, the NGSS might be completely new to you.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of understanding, I'm here to help you move closer to comfortable with the Standards.
I began my "official schooling" in science education just a couple months after the first draft of the Standards was made public.
Together with a professor one semester from retirement and a class of six other blank-slate Teacher-Hopefuls (some of whom have gone on to be amazingly successful classroom teachers), we waded through the entirety of Earth and Space Systems standards. We spent every day engaged in active discussion and exploration of what an NGSS-aligned classroom would look like in comparison to the science classroom we had all known and experienced.
As the NGSS have developed and evolved over the last six years, I have been lucky enough to evolve beside them (I even took that class again four years later to discover more about the developments).
My teaching philosophy always favored active learning, rather than passive learning--especially passive learning in the form of listening to lectures, copying notes, and half-heartedly scanning textbooks for homework answers.
The Framework for K-12 Science Education (the 400 page document that brought the NGSS to fruition) and the NGSS themselves provided the language needed to transform all science learning into active learning. Which brings us to our first vocabulary word for the day: Three-Dimensional Learning.
Three-Dimensional Learning, as detailed by The Framework, is composed of--well--three learning dimension in science education:
In the absolute simplest terms, the Practices describe how students will explore the Ideas and the Concepts that bridge those Ideas. Stay with me here, because this is super important: a successful science education comes from standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment that incorporate all three dimensions.
I chose to begin our adventure into the NGSS and Three-Dimensional Learning with the Science and Engineering Practices deliberately and for a simple reason: they are the most important shift in modern science education.
Simply put, the Practices are the knowledge and skills that are required to do work in science. The Practices move us away from learning about science, to learning by doing science. Perhaps you don't quite have phenomena frames down yet (or even know what those are), but you should at least be striving to provide experiences for your learners to practice their Practices.
Of course, no one is expected to become an expert overnight, I know for many of you, this is your first exposure to all of this language. So I promise we're going to go over it slowly over the next few blog posts. For now, we're going to focus on the Practices.
Already feeling pretty comfortable practicing the Practices? Scroll on down to the bottom of this post for a quick refresher, then meet me over in the next classroom for NGSS 102: Building Bridges With Cross-Cutting Concepts!