Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Week 3 of Mining Next Generation Science Standards

Week 3 of my MOOC on Next Generation Science Standards is focusing on the "Comparing the NGSS to your local standards to investigate the use of the Practices in the NGSS Framework, compared to the processes and skills of your local standards." The standards in our current curriculum in grey below have a number of standards that I think are more succinctly packaged in NGSS standards but I chose this standard as my seventh graders are using a variety of digital stories to model water movement thus demonstrating the hydrologic cycle. I thought this would make a nice addition to their learning portfolio and wouldn't be trashed like some musty poster at the end of the year. At the bottom of this post, you'll see some examples of student work that have been recently presented!

Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the ways water changes its state as it moves through the multiple pathways of the hydrologic cycle. Examples of models can be conceptual or physical.] [Assessment Boundary: A quantitative understanding of the latent heats of vaporization and fusion is not assessed.]

DE: GLE: ScienceDE: Grade 7 S5: Earth as a Dynamic System

A. Water cycles from one reservoir to another through the processes of evaporation, transpiration, condensation and precipitation. Energy transfers and/or transformations are associated with each of these processes.
Level: Essential
B. Water within a watershed travels over and through the land at various speeds based on the rate of change in elevation and the permeability and porosity of the soil. Water carries with it products of human activity.
Level: Important
C. Surface water always flows downhill. Areas of higher elevation separate watersheds. In Delaware, this water eventually reaches the Delaware River, the Delaware Bay, the Atlantic Ocean or the Chesapeake Bay.
Level: Important

DE: GLE: ScienceDE: Grade 7 S1: Nature & Application of Science Technology
Form explanations based on accurate and logical analysis of evidence. Revise the explanation using alternative descriptions, predictions, models and knowledge from other sources as well as results of further investigation.
Level: Essential

The above standard on "Nature and Application of Science Technology" strands in DE is implicit in standard MS-ESS2-4 as it clearly starts with "develop a model" and the DE states that students should "form explanations and revise through models" but this is a "Nature of Science" skill that teachers must connect to earth science standards. 

The first notable difference is that this skill in DE can be selected over and over to demonstrate and model scientific phenomenon but NGSS connects the skill to the standard so the teacher doesn't have to "connect the dots" or wonder how they'll find a skill to match to a content standard or how they'll have students demonstrate knowledge mastery with a skill. 

The second difference is that when on the NGSS website, simply hovering the mouse over the standard allows teachers not only the ability to highlight crosscutting examples and core practices, but a grey pop up bubble notifies teachers of background knowledge as show through vertical alignment in the NGSS curriculum. 

Examples of student work modelling the hydro logical cycle

Core Ideas in Science: More Important the Content?

I'm in week 2 of comparing Next Generation Science Standards to my own standards in the science classroom. As I compare our school's science curriculum charted in Atlas rubicon to the link above, I'm stoked to see how the scope and sequence is broken down in appendix "E" for disciplinary core idea concepts or DCI.

Many teachers lament that content is something to slog through and regurgitate, and traditional assessments of summative multiple choice tests help perpetuate this stereotype. Don't get me wrong, I think that standardization is a huge time saver, but I think it's more useful as a formative piece rather a summative one which can be differentiated in so many ways. Still, content has its place and without content understanding one cannot apply what they've learned.

The NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea that I've chosen to compare with my schools is this:
ESS2.B -Plate tectonics and large-scale system interactions 

There are 12 strands in the earth science progression within NGSS and I've chosen this standard along with the horizontal scope and sequence from different divisions such as early learners, elementary, middle and high school.

Here is our school's MS standards:

D. Constructive processes that build up the land and the destructive processes of weathering and erosion shape and reshape the land surface. 
The height of Earth landforms is a result of the difference between the rate of uplift and the rate of erosion at a particular location. 
Level: Important
K. Past geological events and environments can be reconstructed by interpreting fossilized remains and successive layering of sedimentary rocks. 
Level: Important
L. The fit of continental coastlines, the similarity of rock types and fossilized remains provide evidence that today’s continents were once a single land mass. The continents moved to their current positions on plates driven by energy from Earth’s interior. 
Level: Important

Our school has a similar scope  and sequence (MS only pictured below) but it's organized vertically and we toggle between Environmental Systems and Earth science depending on the division. We have a similar format for physical sciences where they're all lumped together in elementary school but broken down by chemistry, physics and electricity in MS and HS. We have also dis aggregated content into grade levels so teachers know what they're responsible for teaching. 

Our software "Atlas Rubicon" has some great tools that allow standards (once selected) to be indicated which teachers have indicated them and in which grade level. Although NGSS has a logical scope and sequence it appears that the onus is on the school to decide where and when (divisionally) to implement the standards so any school adopting NGSS should expect a year or two of soft implementation with curricular review cycles to ensure all standards are being cover and by what grade level teacher.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Comparing NGSS and Delaware Science Standards

I'm in week one of learning about Next Generation Science Standards through Coursera and my first assignment is compare them to similar standards that I am already teaching. If you've never heard of Coursera, it's one of the "big three" of companies offering massive, open, online courses or MOOC's.

The NG standard I'm evaluating is within its "Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics" unit. My teaching partner and I taught this activity yesterday through "Deer/Lion" which is a prey/predator game of tag that we are using in an environmental detectives unit investigating the "Grey area" which is a fictional watershed wherein an unexplained ecological die-off of fish has occurred. We use this game to highlight how predators influence prey and how scarcity of prey limits the carrying capacity of predators. We graph this relationship to look at change over time and help us interpret data.

Students declaring what resources that they are or want
Competing for resources
This is how the Next Generation Standard reads:

Delaware doesn't have such a succinct learning standard and instead, breaks down the blue sections above into the "Nature of Science" strand and the orange section above falls into ecology as shown below:

Overall, I think that NG does a better job tying the knowledge and skills together rather than having the learning outcomes, skills and knowledge as separate entities within the backwards design framework. Although I do like backwards design and have co-authored dozens of curriculum maps, the learning outcomes are taken from an eclectic variety of locations within "Stage 1: Desired Results" However, Delaware is moving away from these standards and moving towards common core standards in the near future.

What I like about NG standards is that they're well contained with tabs to highlight "cross cutting concepts and core ideas" which make is easy to toggle between knowledge, skills and interdisciplinary projects. Although the standard is not new to me, it's easier to navigate from a curricular standpoint.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Project Grouping Feature for the new Doctopus Add-on

My science class is taking a jigsaw approach for our final project for our unit on "Inside Earth". I thought this would be a good opportunity to show how one can share documents between groups of people. Enjoy!