Cruise ships are massive vessels.
Steering and re-directing them is complex, time-consuming, and takes a lot of energy. But, eventually, they move. Which is good, because if a cruise ship only went in one heading direction, most people would never find taking a cruise to be worthwhile and inevitably you would run aground.
The cruise ship of my school’s Science Scope and Sequence has started to re-direct. While the process will take time, our heading is starting to point more towards our port-of-call: better alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards.
(If you need a primer on how the Next Generation Science Standards are different than the previous Science standards, fellow blogger Al Gonzales has done a fantastic job explaining the shift in layman’s terms at his post NGSS Science Shifting).
In a previous post I explored some possible options on how to realign our current scope and sequence to better fit with Next Gen Science Standards. Based on feedback I received as well as work from our district Science coordinator, we explored a handful of options on how to better align and we generated pro/con lists for each option in a Google Sheet.
Since we currently use two years of the BSCS curriculum, we explored what NGSS realignment through that packaged curriculum would look like. We also looked at shifting our current offerings down one grade, to essentially teach Biology at 9th Grade, Chemistry at 10th Grade, and Physics at 11th Grade. Finally we looked at a guiding framework generated by the State of California, which provides a three or four year integrated science framework built around natural phenomena.
Through each lens we did a gap analysis to determine which content Discipline Core Ideas (DCIs) are covered, as well as which ones are weakly addressed or not addressed at all. DCIs are the traditional “Science” content, and then each DCI, when taught, should be layered with Cross-Cutting Concepts (e.g. Cause and Effect) and Science & Engineering Practices (e.g. Constructing Explanations and Finding Solutions).
While, as Al noted, realigning a current curriculum to make it more “NGSS-ey” is not the optimal solution, our team found that solution struck the best balance between ensuring most of the major DCIs were covered while keeping the workload placed upon teachers manageable. With our current curriculum, the thin points in instruction are known quantities, and we can find ways to bundle together clumps where DCI coverage is thin with authentic phenomena in a new activity or unit, as opposed to an entirely new curriculum.
One big reason we shied away from a pre-packaged curriculum such as expanding our BSCS offerings is the uncertainty that comes with a new curriculum, coupled with the understanding that no widely-available curriculum has been built from the ground-up for NGSS yet. We know that our current curriculum fits in one school year – we don’t have that level of certainty with new curriculums. In fact, we only get through 8 of the 16 chapters in the Level 2 BSCS curriculum with our 10th graders.
Finally, we decided to view the “California model” as more of an advisory model, because the framework offers a suggested string of phenomena but no pre-built supporting materials to help implement such a framework. That led to a perception from our team that the CA model would require significant investment of time from our teachers to build new curriculum – something we are not looking to do, as next year we will have more than enough transition keeping us busy. (Our high school is expanding from 3 grades to 4, and contracting from 107 minute periods to 80-ish minute periods). We liked the story lines and connected phenomena the CA model proposed, and plan on using it to help inform how we can address those areas where DCI coverage is currently thin.
Our motors have been churning and our cruise ship has slowly been changing its course – but just like a cruise ship, a small change in our heading now can have a drastic effect on our final destination. 10 months after I first asked the question, I’d like to again explore the question “In your district, what steps are teachers taking (or have already taken) to identify and address gaps in meeting the NGSS Strands?”
“Wheelhouse Control Board Of Modern Industry Ship Approaching To Harbor At Night” image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Positives Negatives Buttons Show Analysis Or Examine” image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Cruise Boat” image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Latest posts by Francis Jequinto (see all)
- Student Teaching from the Student Teacher Point of View – Part 2 - December 20, 2016
- Student Teaching from the Student Teacher Point of View – Part 1 - November 29, 2016
- Redirecting the Next Gen Science Cruise Ship - October 30, 2016