Yesterday I attended another webinar through Rubicon, called "Demystifying the Standards, NGSS in the Classroom, and Teacher Resources." I will say that I didn't find this webinar as helpful as I was expecting, as I think it was more structured toward people that have less understanding of NGSS. I do however, think it was a valuable use of time, as I did pick up some new ideas and resources.
The webinar started off making reference to A Framework for K-12 Science Education, which if you make an account with National Academies Press you can download and read it for free. You can also download Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards, and maybe some other resources. I haven't read it from start to finish yet, but I have skimmed throughout as I have been working on items for my students. I intend to read it, as it is a very beneficial resource. The webinar hosts referenced the goals for K-12 science education, which I think is very important for teachers and other invested in science education to keep in mind. The goal for students by the time they reach the end of 12th grade is to have some appreciation for science, be able to engage in public discussion, be careful consumers of science and technology related to life, learn outside of school, and have skills to enter careers, including STEM careers. Lofty goals we have cut out for ourselves, but these necessary to increase the level of scientific literacy we have among our citizens.
The hosts pulled out some key points from the framework goals that will further clarify what science educators need to develop and support in their classrooms. These points were: interest in science, equity in science, engineering, and thinking science, not fact-science. The equity piece stuck out to me in particular, as the first class I took this summer was STEM for All. This class addressed the various barriers that different groups experience in the world of STEM. I have some ideas to try out in my classroom, such as gender same groups in engineering tasks and carefully observing how this works to similar tasks carried out in more heterogeneous groups. The other point that stuck out to me was about thinking-science. As I began this journey to get more acquainted with NGSS and align classroom learning activities, I keep coming back to the thought that if NGSS doesn't change your practice, then you are doing it wrong.
The other piece that I found helpful was the modification of the 5E model to reflect how one can construct a lesson sequence through the lens of NGSS. Through this lens, Engage becomes the phenomenon that you select to anchor the less on or unit. Explore becomes the place in which students create, make and use models, and do investigations. Explain could be the point at which the teacher gives the students more information such as the actual vocabulary, or students could be doing some research or related reading. Elaborate is where students refine their models and apply their learning to a new situation. Lastly, Evaluate is place for authentic assessments, in which you can see more of your students' thinking. This lens isn't terribly different than the traditional 5E model, but it could simplify the lesson process as one works to implement NGSS.
One last thing that was shared with us was a website: NGSS Resource Round-Up. I haven't explored it just yet, but it looks like a worthwhile site to check out. The organizers talked about possibly reaching out with attendees to create a network of educators sharing NGSS resources and curriculum. I don't know what that may entail, but I'm game to find out if that comes to fruition.