In this season of Thanksgiving I’ve reflected on the many people and things in my life that I have to be thankful for. As a teacher, I know I have a lot to be thankful for as well – students willing to try new things each day, a supportive staff, professional mentors I still lean on, a growing professional learning network. A year into implementing the Next Generation Science Standards I can add that I really am thankful for this new set of standards. Below are seven reasons I’m thankful for NGSS.
- I am thankful that the adoption of NGSS is happening slowly. The timetable set before us from exploring the new standards to full implementation and testing of the new standards is not overnight, it is a years long process. This is giving me the chance to feel comfortable with the standards, to try new bite-sized pieces, to really learn along the way and not feel overwhelmed having to make a complete switch overnight! I am a better, and less stressed, teacher because of it which means my students are benefiting from this as well.
- I am thankful for Science and Engineering Practices. Sure, as I admitted in a previous post, getting rid of the Scientific Method wasn’t easy, but the method was, well, too methodical. Science and engineering are often “messy,” one thought leads to another and it’s not always linear. The Science and Engineering Practices are more authentic and allow for students to really take control of their investigations. Speaking of Science and Engineering Practices….
- I am thankful that engineering plays such an important role in NGSS. Engineering opens up a whole new world to students. It helps to change the myth that science only happens in a lab in a white lab coat. It opens up the possibilities for students knowing that there are problems to solve, needs to be met, and they can design the solutions!
- I am thankful for Crosscutting Concepts. Students are making more connections across science, and across disciplines. The Crosscutting Concepts are helping students take their thinking deeper than before.
- I am thankful that NGSS is being adopted in multiple states. I have been able to connect with teachers in other NGSS states, learn from them, and collaborate with people who are further along in adoption than we are. It also means there is a wealth of specific resources being developed that I can use as my own professional development, and pull from and use in my own classroom.
- I am thankful that NGSS intentionally incorporates reading, writing, and math. Science Communication is an important role, and all scientists and engineers need to know how to communicate effectively in a variety of forms. If I can work a little smarter, I should be able to plan a science unit, that also meets all of my reading and writing objectives for that specified time as well. Math and science are commonly seen to go hand-in-hand and these connections abound in the NGSS too! (This is a goal of mine for 2016 – to write a completely integrated unit.) As I’ve said before, I believe this integration also gives students a real purpose for reading and writing which helps motivate them to do the hard work required in all subject areas.
- I am thankful that NGSS has an emphasis on ALL students doing science and engineering. Having the opportunity to do science and solve engineering problems is highly engaging for all students. I appreciate that there was a focused effort to include special education students, English Language Learners, and diverse student populations as participants in science. (Read NGSS Appendix D for great case studies.) Science education should not be saved for the students “on standard.” Science gives all students new experiences, new exposure to vocabulary, and new opportunities to shine.
As a teacher, what are you thankful for?
Latest posts by Hallie Mills (see all)
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