Category Archives: Promotions

Looking Forward: The Next Generation Science Standards

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Why Change Science Instruction?

Why change the way science (and math) are taught in the United States? Check out this great infographic to see why instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics needs to change drastically in the United States.

Transforming Science Education

In response to the need for science education to change to meet the needs of 21st century students, Achieve, Inc.,  has released the final draft of the Next Generation Science Standards. The standards are available for reading, free of charge, or can be ordered in hard copy.

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Standards can be viewed online, free of charge, or ordered in hard copy (click image for more information).

Where Did They Get the Standards?

The NGSS are based on the National Research Council Framework, which focuses on three dimensions of science instruction: scientific and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas (see the tabs at the top of this blog post for the three dimensions and their components). This framework is available for reading online, free of charge, or for free download. See the widget in the sidebar, at right, to get a copy for yourself. Each standard is followed by the frameworks elements it draws on (see image, below), and includes specific language to clarify age-appropriate expectations.

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Each standard draws on several elements in the NRC Framework.

I find the color-coding of the three dimensions helpful for quickly identifying different aspects of the framework, for each standard.

Scientific and Engineering Practices

Scientific and engineering practices are the things we want students to DO in science. These are divided into eight areas:

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigation
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  • Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

Here is an example of the scientific and engineering practices connections to one fifth grade science standard:

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Scientific and Engineering Practices are the things we want students to DO in the science classroom.

 

Cross-Cutting Concepts

There are many essential truths in science — concepts so broad, that they extend into all disciplines. These cross-cutting concepts — the things we want students to understand — are listed below.

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation
  • Scale, Proportion and Quantity
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles and Conservation
  • Structure and Function
  • Stability and Change

 

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Cross-Cutting Concepts are the broad ideas that we want students to UNDERSTAND, regardless of the specific science topic.

 

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Each science discipline has its own “truths,” things that we want students to know about a particular topic. These are listed as disciplinary core ideas, and are broken into the four main branches of science:

Physical Sciences

  • Matter and Its Interactions
  • Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
  • Energy
  • Waves and Information Transfer

Life Sciences

  • From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
  • Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics
  • Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
  • Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Earth and Space Sciences

  • Earth’s Place in the Universe
  • Earth’s Systems
  • Earth and Human Activity

Engineering, Technology and the Application of Science

  • Engineering Design
  • Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science and Society
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Disciplinary core ideas are the subject-specific things we want students to KNOW.

Integrated Standards and Thematic Teaching

One part of the new standards that I think will be a big bonus for teachers is the connection of related literacy and numeracy standards after each science standard, as well as related framework ideas. With these connections, it is not only easier for classroom teachers to design rich, integrated units of study based on scientific topics — it is also easier for teachers to be reassured that integrated, thematic teaching can address important literacy and numeracy goals of high-stakes testing.

Here is an example of an integrated unit based on the Grade 1 science standards:

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If Only I Could Fly – an integrated Grade 1 Science Unit. (c) Simple Science Strategies, 2013. Click the image to download this 13-page document, FREE.

 

This unit includes three performance tasks, addressing two science standards, two numeracy standards, and five English language arts standards. For each task, a task table outlines key vocabulary, big ideas, a description of the essential task with grade-level expectations, important concepts and any foundational concepts. Components are sorted by Bloom’s Level.

 

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Standards are arranged to show performance tasks, including key vocabulary, big ideas and concepts, and grade-level expectations.

 

To assist teachers in assessing student performance relative to the standards, sample rubrics are included for each performance task.

For Your Science Library

Please see the sidebar for new selections for your science library and classroom: A Framework for K-12 Science Education, and The Essentials of Science and Literacy.


 

 

 

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Nature Study: 15 Minutes to Deeper Science Understandings

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You can enrich any science instruction with outdoor nature study for only 15 minutes a day. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2013

In the Northern Hemisphere, we are (finally!) heading into spring – the nights are still chilly, but the days are creeping up into near 70 degrees F today. My Southern Hemisphere friends and readers are enjoying the shift to autumn weather. The sudden changes in both spring and fall make them excellent times to move your science instruction outdoors. Whether you are a homeschooling family with adolescent children, a parent with a tiny tot in tow, or a classroom teacher with 20 winter-tired faces looking at you, you can take advantage of nature as your classroom, for only 15 minutes a day.

Getting Started With Nature Study

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Nature study can be conducted using only a few minutes a day, and in any outdoor space.

For those of you who are just dipping your toes into the world of nature, here are some excellent resources to help you get it off the ground.

  •  “8 Reasons to Do Nature Study” reviews the rationale behind including nature study in your instruction, from laying the groundwork for more formal studies later on, to enhancing students’ inquiry skills, to increasing their overall health, just by getting outside more.
  • In “Getting Started With Nature Study,” my friend and fellow nature lover, Barb McCoy, gently guides teachers and families into the routine of nature study, through ten simple lessons.
  • When I first started homeschooling, I put together “Nature Study,” a lesson template I use to build a day’s instruction around a 15 minute outdoor excursion.

Building a Nature Study Library

Over the years, I have read many homeschool and outdoor education blogs on nature study, and I have compiled what I find to be the most commonly used nature study “texts” among all users. These books get used so frequently in my house that they rarely get put away. I personally own all of these books, and highly recommend them, for any nature study setting, and any grade level. Click on the individual photos for information on ordering them directly from this page.

[Note: The field guides here are suitable for the northeastern part of the United States, where I live. Choose the field guide that matches your own region.]

Writing and Nature Study

Science and nature study provide rich opportunities for student writing. Here are some resources that you might find helpful, when pushing writing into your science instruction.

http://simplesciencestrategies.com nature study

Writing and nature study go perfectly together! (c) Simple Science Strategies, 2012.

Debra Reed, at NotebookingPages.com, has created an amazing assortment of pages that can be used for science and nature notebooking and journaling. We have found pages for just about any topic you’d like to study, and have had a membership for many years. From now until April 30, she is holding several promotions. For more information, coupons and a free gift, click on the link, or ad, below.   NotebookingPages.com Free Nature Study Gift, 50% Coupon, & Prize Giveaway

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  [Note: This post contains affiliate links. I received nothing for mentioning these products, and personally have purchased all of them for my own use as a homeschooler and teacher. I never promote a product I do not currently use or wouldn’t consider purchasing. ]

 

Lots of Love Link Up

 

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Zoology Lesson Plans and Links!

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Exploring Creation with Zoology 

I just posted a NEW schedule for Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day (Apologia Science). In our house, we worked out a daily schedule that allows us to do more nature study (Outdoor Hour Challenges), expand the experiments and hands-on portions, and do more independent work outside.

Check it out on A Child’s Garden… Better yet, follow my nature study blog for updates directly to your inbox.

Coming Soon…

Next up: Lesson 1 (“What is Zoology?”) Resources

  • Unwrapped Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, to match the lesson content;
  • Connections to the Next Generation Science Standards (2nd Draft)
  • Extra notebooking pages we created that we’d like to share
  • Links to online resources and videos, and more!

 

Stay tuned!

 

 Zoology www.simlesciencestrategies.com

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