K-8 SCHOOL SCIENCE
Unpacking the Standards
To make sense of the sheer volume of material in the NGSS and state science standards, teachers and science departments need to unpack each strand and concept across domains (horizontally) and across grades (vertically) to select a curriculum sequence that matches the needs of their students. ASL uses the Understanding by Design [UbD] protocol to help teachers identify essential questions and specific learning objectives and plan curriculum units that lead to rigorous and authentic assessments.
Teacher Training and Support
Active Science Learning offers training and coaching for K-8 science teachers to:
Define clear learning objectives and outcomes
Identify essential questions and key understandings
Develop authentic and rigorous summative assessment
Plan lesson sequences and formative assessments
Design hands-on or project-based lessons that utilize one or more
Working with the Science Practices
Science practice are embedded into every one of the Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS] as well as the Mass STE 2016 and other state science standards. However, none of these standards documents offer guidance on how a practice based pedagogy should be facilitated in science classrooms. Teachers or their local supervisors and PD providers in both realms are generally expected to figure out for themselves.
But for these practices to be fully integrated into science classrooms, teachers (and children) need clear descriptions of what these practices actually look like.
Hands-on projects should be embedded in just about every curriculum unit. Science and engineering projects should require students to design experiments, solve age appropriate problems, collect data, evaluate evidence for accuracy, relevance and sufficiency, and draw conclusions that integrate prior knowledge with new evidence.
Traditional "labs" may be a good way to introduce students to experimental design and data collection techniques, but students should soon transition to true projects in which they set goals and objectives, design the experimental method and evaluate the quality and meaning of their results. A projects may or may arrive and the intended outcome, but it can be successful to the extent that students learn to think creatively, work through problems and road blocks and make reasonable judgements and evaluations of their processes and results.