Anticipating the NGSS

As schools all over the country re-evaluate their curriculum to meet the Common Core Standards, we science teachers are left in a predicament!  Yes, there are some aspects of the Common Core that we must evaluate and incorporate into our science courses, but we don’t have a new set of standards…..yet!  In my school district we have spent a lot of PD time curriculum mapping and that has been a very worthwhile effort.  The only downside is that we are anticipating some changes to our courses with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The NGSS are scheduled for release this month!  After the release we need to wait on our state to determine whether they will adopt the NGSS as is, with modifications, or not at all.  The likely answer is that they will adopt the NGSS, as Massachusetts is one of the 26 states who are working to create them, but they could choose to adopt them with modifications.  And the science teachers continue to wait……

While we wait…..

I have reviewed the NGSS drafts and have taken some insight from them already that informs my practice.  Until this review I hadn’t specifically concerned myself with the Crosscutting Concepts and the Science and Engineering Practices.  I now have them displayed on my classPractices-thumbroom wall as a reminder of what we should be learning besides science content.  I find it very helpful for students to see them and reflect on what they are.  As we do an activity I can ask the class, “Which of the Practices or Crosscutting Concepts applies to this lesson?”  I’m enjoying the discussions.

Moving forward….

I am happy with the paradigm shift taking place where we expand our focus from ‘content only’ to ‘content and practice.’  It really makes perfect sense!  I was able to attend an AP Biology Summer Content Institute last year and was pleased to find that the course has undergone a major revision with the same theme.  The 12 ‘cookbook’ labs that we all know and love, The Dirty Dozen, have been revised or replaced with inquiry labs.  I’ll be writing about this in another post!  And the content that is required for the course has been slightly modified as well to focus on higher order thinking and understanding as opposed to memorization of content.  Even the AP test questions have been revised to have longer question prompts that require a student to process information in order to answer the question prompt.  Change is coming with the NGSS and I think it will benefit our students in the long term.
Below are the Science and Engineering Practices and the Crosscutting Concepts, and my posters that are displayed in my classroom.  You are welcome to take them for your classroom.

Science and Engineering Practices

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using modelsConcepts-thumb
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts

2.Cause and Effect
3.Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
4.Systems and System Models
5.Energy and Matter in Systems
6.Structure and Function
7.Stability and Change of Systems

Click here for the Classroom Posters in pdf form.