I’ve been in the same classroom for 28 years, room 302. 302 is a great classroom. Thousands of students have walked through its doors ready to learn and to laugh. I’m in the process of moving into a much smaller math classroom. I’m going through my own stuff from 31 years of teaching and through a collection of equipment and materials that was purchased during the NSF’s Race to Space in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the changes in science education over the past 60 years and the changes in my own practice.
One of the biggest changes over the years has been the evolution of learning standards.
Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s). I began my career using SLO’s written by teachers in my school district. The SLO’s mirrored the textbook we used and were a laundry list of the content I was expected to teach. I placed the huge binder on a shelf. I never used them, my principal never mentioned them and my students never saw them.
Washington State’s Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALR’s). These listed the content students had to know and identified how they would be expected to demonstrate their level of understanding. EALR’s also included Systems, Inquiry, and Application, which included some of the NGSS Crosscutting Concepts (CCC’s) and Science & Engineering Practices (SEP’s). I used the first version to check that I “covered” all the EALR’s. I still have my copy of version 1.2. I can see that I used this document on a fairly regular basis to plan instruction. EARL’s also show up in some of my vintage assessments. My principal expected to see the EALR’s for each lesson he observed.
Next Generation Science Standards. I teach my students the three domains of the NGSS—Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI’s), CCC’s and SEP’s. All three domains work together. I call out the SEP’s and CCC’s as we encounter them and we develop success criteria for the SEP’s. The content is still present, but it is no longer always in the driver’s seat. Learning Targets match up with DCI’s, SEP’s and CCC’s. Assessments match up with Learning Targets. Grades are determined by success criteria on the three domains. My principal expects every lesson to be grounded in at least one of the three domains of the NGSS.
- SLO’s: District standards in an unused binder based strictly on content knowledge.
- EALR’s: State standards based on content knowledge that included some of the SEP’s. Used by teachers as a guide to instruction.
- NGSS: National standards based on all three domains. Used by students, teachers and principals. Embedded in instruction, assessment and evaluation.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
Married to Larry, an old Coast Guard salt and amazing man.I get to share Larry with our yellow lab, Sherman.