Education Week - May 22, 2013 - (Page 18)

18 EDUCATION WEEK n MAY 22, 2013 n SCIENCE IN PRACTICE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 at content, how they plan for investigations and activities,” said Diane E. Sanna, the director of curriculum and instruction for the 1,900-student Tiverton, R.I., district, where a group of teachers has been engaged in professional development, drawing mainly on the National Research Council framework document that was produced to guide the standards. “It’s going to provide much richer instruction,” Ms. Sanna said of the standards. “But it’s a big shift, and it will take time to make sure all the teachers understand [them].” The Next Generation standards, developed by a coalition of 26 states and several national groups, still await individual state adoption. Substantial attention, though, is being turned to laying the groundwork for implementation, including teacher training and professional development, assessment, and curriculum and instructional materials. (See Education Week, May 15, 2013.) In South Dakota, 8th grade earth-science teacher Monica L. Dorn has attended a series of workshops on the topic since last summer. “Most labs and lesson plans have one right answer you’re trying to get the kids to,” she said. “We brought these cookbook labs in and essentially tore them apart and rearranged them.” With what she’s learned, Ms. Dorn will lead workshops on the standards this summer. The standards, she said, reflect an approach to teaching and learning science that will require big adjustments for many teachers, herself included. “Students get the opportunity to do what scientists actually do,” she said. “Scientists don’t sit down and fill out worksheets; [they] don’t just sit down and take notes.” For several years, Rhode Island has supported a professional-development initiative for science teachers in eight districts and some charter schools that brings in experts from the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The focus this academic year has been on helping teachers grapple with the ideas behind the nrc framework and the standards to rethink their instructional approaches. “We need to augment our instruction to focus not just on what you know, but how do you know, and what can you do with that knowledge,” said Gregory K. Shea, a physics teacher at Mount Hope High School in Bristol, R.I. The Kansas City, Kan., district has been working with teachers this school year on the framework and standards, targeting the science and engineering practices as well as the “cross-cutting concepts” that span scientific disciplines, such as patterns; energy and matter; and cause and effect. “You’ve got people who say, ‘Oh, we already do this.’ But then, when they start looking at it, just looking at the practices and the cross-cutting concepts, they say, ‘Oh, not really,’ ” said Alan L. King, the curriculum director for the 20,000-student district. ‘Practicing the Practice’ Experts say that what sets the new standards apart is how they weave together three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas; science and engineering practices; and cross-cutting concepts. At the heart of the standards are performance expectations that ask students to take actions to show their learning, such as plan and conduct Photos by Gretchen Ertl for Education Week Old Lessons Scrapped As Teachers Gear Up For New Standards investigations, analyze and interpret data, and devise models. (Major funding for developing the standards was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Other funders include the Noyce Foundation. Both foundations help support Education Week reporting.) Mary C. Colson, a science teacher at Horizon Middle School in Moorhead, Minn., who was on the 41-member writing team for the standards, said she appreciates how the practices are “front and center” in the document. “In most state standards, the inquiry, the practices of science are kind of in their own section, so they are very much divorced from content,” she said. “But this time, they are woven together.” Ms. Colson said she’s already “tried things out” from the standards in her classroom, but admits that faithfully embedding the practices in class isn’t easy. “It’s a challenge for me to get kids practicing the practices of science,” she said. “It’s a different mindset.” She added, “I have lab experiences I’ve created, and I found myself looking at what I had done and asking: What practice am I wanting my students to focus on here? And what do I need to change ... so they ABOVE: Third graders Pauline Helger, left, and Hayley Morrow observe the underside of a crayfish in their classroom at Ranger Elementary School in Tiverton, R.I. Denise M. Truver shows her 3rd graders at Ranger the proper way to hold a crayfish. She’s revised her instruction in response to the new science standards. are actually practicing the practice, rather than telling me the answer?” Because the standards were just issued in final form in April, many early efforts to work with educators have relied heavily on the nrc framework document, a readerfriendly narrative published in 2011 that explains the vision and rationale for the approach to science education promoted in the standards. The framework is seen as a powerful resource for teachers. NRC Framework Seen as Valued Resource for Educators By Erik W. Robelen As science educators look at the Next Generation Science Standards, some experts and fellow teachers have a piece of advice: Don’t forget to read—and reread— the National Research Council framework. While the standards are often described as a “technical document,” the framework, published in 2011, is an accessible narrative that not only served as a blueprint for the standards, but also explains the ideas behind them, makes the case for why they are needed, and says what they aim to accomplish. “Teachers need to have their hands on that framework because it is very helpful,” said Denise M. Truver, a 3rd grade teacher at Walter E. Ranger Elementary School in Tiverton, R.I., who has been engaged in professional development to better understand the new standards. “The framework has kind of been our bible during this work,” she said. “I think it’s an amazing text.” She added: “It gives me a ton of background content knowledge, while it also gives me what students should know at the end of each grade span.” The congressionally chartered nrc assembled an 18-member panel of experts in science and science education to craft the framework, led by Helen R. Quinn, a professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University. “The standards themselves are best understood in the context of the framework, so those two documents should be traveling the world together,” said Philip Bell, a professor of the learning sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, who served on the nrc panel. The document isn’t billed just as a guide for the standards, but also as an aid for curriculum designers, assessment developers, state and district administrators, leaders in science teacher education, and science educators in “informal settings.” Its 13 chapters cover a lot of terrain, Also, early drafts of the standards have been used as a reference. South Dakota’s state education department brought together a group of teachers starting last summer “to work with some of the shifts found within the framework,” said Sam Shaw, a science, social studies, and fine arts specialist at the agency. As part of the work, some teachers, including Ms. Dorn—who teaches at Mickelson Middle School in Brookings, S.D.— from guiding assumptions to a careful explanation of the three dimensions of the standards: science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. It also devotes a chapter to implementation issues. “Standards provide a vision for teaching and learning, but the vision cannot be realized unless the standards permeate the education system and guide curriculum, instruction, teacher preparation and professional development, and student assessment,” it says. Coverage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is supported by a grant from the Noyce Foundation, at www.noycefdn. org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 22, 2013

Education Week - May 22, 2013
District Bets Big on Standards
FOCUS ON: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: States Stepping Up Mandates for School Safety Drills
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Schools Facing the Expiration of Windows XP
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Debates Roil Over Control of Schools in Baton Rouge
Study: Teenagers’ Brains Are Wired for Peer Approval
Analysis Calls for Dual-Language Pre-K for Young ELLs
PROFILE: Brian Pick
PROFILE: Dowan Mcnair-Lee
PROFILE: Mikel Robinson
States Tighten Disclosure of Teacher Evaluations
Blogs of the Week
NRC Framework Seen as Valued Resource for Educators
A Spec. Ed. Twist on Common-Core Testing
K-12 Colors Campaigns in Virginia, New Jersey
Policy Brief
CYNTHIA G. BROWN: The ‘How’ of Equitable School Funding
JIM CHILDRESS: Designing Learning Spaces for A New Age of Discovery
JEANNE ZAINO: Teaching the Metric System: A Cautionary Tale for the Common Core
Topschooljobs Recruitment Marketplace
LISA HANSEL: The Common Core Needs a Common Curriculum

Education Week - May 22, 2013