As teachers I think it is our natural inclination to fear (or be annoyed) by any new initiative coming down the pipe-regardless of the excitement or potential it may bring with it. Just when we are in the swing of one way of teaching, we are introduced to something new to take up. With Common Core implementation not-so-far behind us, the idea of adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) can be overwhelming, at best. For elementary teachers especially, the Next Gen standards bring with it a unique intensity and passion for the sciences-perhaps something that not all elementary teachers feel prepared to tackle. BUT fear not! We are here to tell you that the NGSS are not so scary at all, and actually provide us with an incredible moment to offer our students deeper learning experiences that are easily aligned to standards.
Overview of Next Gen Science Standards:
The NGSS website offers a ton of information on what these standards are, but we will warn you this website is dense! Click here to see a nice highlight that you can start with that provides a Birdseye view of the k-12 standards.
CraftED Cliff Notes: NGSS is a unique progression of concepts and skills that spiral with students over the course of their k-12 career. These concepts and skills include most of the traditional disciplinary topics (life sciences, physical sciences, earth and space sciences) but also include engineering and design practices.
How NGSS plays well with the Maker Movement
The NGSS starts our students out thinking like a scientist from the young age of 5-6. By the time they are in 12th grade they will have been asking good questions, solving problems and using their hands and minds for so many years that it is second nature for them. When we ask students to engage in Making, it is with purpose-typically a purpose to better understand how something works, or to innovate with a new idea. Essentially we are asking them to embody NGSS science and engineering practices:
- Asking Questions and Defining Problems
- Developing using Models Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
To see how teachers across the country are embedding Making into their classes see this resource.
How NGSS leads to Deeper Learning
Maker education provides the perfect avenue for scientific learning, as defined by NGSS, and affords deeper learning methodologies such as design thinking, inquiry-based learning and PBL to be the drivers. When students are making for scientific purposes they are displaying the behaviors, or competencies as defined by Hewlett’s Deeper Learning Framework:
- Master core academic contet
- Think crtically and solve complex problems
- Work collaboratively
- Communicate effectively
- Learn how to Learn
- Develop academic mindsets
With intentional design, NGSS can be a pivotal moment for us to take standards and leverage them to facilitate learning experiences that allow students to “go deeper”. If we can get past being overwhelmed by yet another new initiative, we can be excited that our passions and efforts are now backed by policy-woohoo! CraftED Curriculum can’t wait to share with you our strategies and lessons that are aligned to NGSS, CCSS and Deeper Learning Competencies. To find out when we release these be sure to sign up for our email list at www.craftedcurricu.staging.wpengine.com and join the growing CraftED Community on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (@craftEDcm).