Strategies & Tools

Information & Resources

Strategies & Tools

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Overview

With the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, the classroom has changed significantly to encompass 3-dimensional teaching and learning. Like any other shift in pedagogy, there is no short supply of tools and strategies to help with the transition.  The tools and strategies you will find on this page are the ones that have been most helpful in my classroom and in the classrooms of the teachers I work with.

The strategies and tools on this page are organized into four categories: planning, sense making, making thinking visible, and incorporating the 3rd dimension. 

Tools for Planning

1. NGSS Evidence Statements: Each NGSS Performance Expectation (PE) has an accompanying Evidence Statement. The link to the Evidence Statements are located on the right hand side of the screen when you look up a Performance Expectation. The Evidence Statements are a detailed look into how your students can show proficiency for a given PE by being able to use the science and engineering practices to prove their understanding of the DCIs through the lens of the CCCs. Before planning a unit, I dissect the evidence statements for the unit’s PEs.  

 

3.  Planning a 3D Unit: The creation of a NGSS aligned 3-dimensional unit requires significant up front planning and preparation. Like teaching any unit for the first time, we need to understand the new content we are responsible for. The change for a 3-dimensional unit is we as teachers are not just responsible for teaching the content but the science and engineering practices and cross cutting concepts as well. To teach all three dimensions to our students, we must plan for all three dimensions.

More Information:

  • Planning a 3-Dimensional Unit

*this tool is expanded on on the page liked here

2.  Finding a Phenomenon: Every unit designed using the NGSS begins with an anchor phenomenon. Simply put, a phenomenon is real world event or experience that engages students to ask questions and seek understanding. The anchor phenomenon is the overarching phenomenon for the unit from which the students can derive the driving question and construct an explanation of by the end of the unit. Every major concept in the unit is tied back to the anchor phenomenon. There can be sub phenomenon in the unit; these are smaller level phenomenon that are used to explain one or some of the major concepts in the unit. The key of using a phenomenon is that students work to seek understanding of the phenomenon- the “right answer” is not provided to the students. A good phenomenon is relevant and relatable to the students causing student engagement and wonderment.

4.  Teacher Summary Table: A summary table is a chart with four columns and five rows. Each row is for a major topic or concept in a unit. In a given unit, there are between three and five major concepts. Summary tables can provide the structure for me to plan and develop a phenomenon-based unit. The summary table allows me to ensure my unit contains the necessary content and ensures that I am periodically connecting the content back to the phenomenon. The completed summary table is a constant reference for myself to keep what I teach consistent with what is expected, according to the performance expectations.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

5.  LP Development: A Learning Performance (LP) is a 3-dimensional objective or learning target. A unit consists of a series of learning performances. The learning performances act as a progression of student understanding of the DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs, of a unit. Each learning performance can be used to develop a formative assessment task. During the course of the unit, students’ mastery of the learning performances provide evidence of students’ mastery of bundled performance expectations.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

6.  Lesson Plan Template: With the switch to 3-dimensional teaching and learning with the Next Generation Science Standards, there are moving parts to keep track of when planning lessons. This is the lesson plan template I use when planning my lessons.

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7.  Lesson Reflection Tools: The process of adaptation and creation of 3-dimensional lessons and instructional materials is never finished. The lessons taught in my classroom and the student materials are constantly under the pressure of reflection, evaluation, and revision. Evaluation and revision occur based on student performance and formative assessment data as well as the reflection tools below.

8.  STEM Teaching Tools: Prompts for Integrating the Crosscutting Concepts: STEM Teaching Tools has created a fabulous tool for making the instruction of the Crosscutting Concepts explicit for students. In STEM Teaching Tool Brief #41, there is a series of suggested scenarios or tasks to present student with for each Crosscutting Concept.For each scenario, there is a set of suggested questions to ask students to probe student understanding of the Crosscutting Concept. These prompts can be used to adapt previously used assessment items, worksheets, lab activities, exit slips, do nows and other student deliverables to make these products more 3-dimensional.  

9.  STEM Teaching Tools: Tasks for Integrating Science and Engineering Practices: STEM Teaching Tools has created a fantastic tool for incorporating the Science and Engineering Practices into instruction. In STEM Teaching Tool Brief #30, there is suggested scenarios to present to students for each Science and Engineering Practice   For each scenario, there is a student task to probe student understanding of the SEP. These prompts can be used to adapt previously used assessment items, worksheets, lab activities, exit slips, do nows and other student deliverables to make these products more 3-dimensional.  

 

Tools for Sense Making

1.  Questioning for the Next Generation (QNG): Questioning for the Next Generation (QNG) is a protocol designed to increase student ownership of the unit, and promote student engagement. During the course of the QNG protocol, students engage in the Science and Engineering Practice of Asking Questions. The protocol works to assist students to ask questions regarding a phenomenon and looks to increase student understanding of both open and closed questions. Further, it leads students to evaluate the quality of their questions. QNG incorporates the Cross Cutting Concepts in an organic way that not only increases student understanding of the role of the CCCs in science but sets up the unit to explicitly includes these Cross Cutting Concepts. The Questioning for the Next Generation protocol occurs at the start of the unit and is used to develop the unit’s driving question. This protocol allows the students to engage with the phenomenon for a 45 minute class period, increasing student interest and curiosity in the phenomenon. The driving question is created by the students increasing student ownership in the content of the unit.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

2.  Student Summary Table: Summary tables are an important tool for student sense making and are an integral piece of a unit structure. The summary table is first used when the phenomenon is introduced and then again after every major concept that is covered.  A 45 minute class period is set aside to complete each new row of the summary table. This means in a given unit, there are approximately five days dedicated to filling out the summary table. At the end of the unit, the summary table acts as  a running record of all of the important concepts of the unit, and it becomes the study guide for the summative assessment.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

 

Tools for Making Thinking Visible

1.  Questioning for the Next Generation (QNG): Questioning for the Next Generation (QNG) is a protocol designed to increase student ownership of the unit, and promote student engagement. During the course of the QNG protocol, students engage in the Science and Engineering Practice of Asking Questions. The protocol works to assist students to ask questions regarding a phenomenon and looks to increase student understanding of both open and closed questions. Further, it leads students to evaluate the quality of their questions. QNG incorporates the Cross Cutting Concepts in an organic way that not only increases student understanding of the role of the CCCs in science but sets up the unit to explicitly includes these Cross Cutting Concepts. The Questioning for the Next Generation protocol occurs at the start of the unit and is used to develop the unit’s driving question. This protocol allows the students to engage with the phenomenon for a 45 minute class period, increasing student interest and curiosity in the phenomenon. The driving question is created by the students increasing student ownership in the content of the unit.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

2.  Student Summary Table: Summary tables are an important tool for student sense making and are an integral piece of a unit structure. The summary table is first used when the phenomenon is introduced and then again after every major concept that is covered.  A 45 minute class period is set aside to complete each new row of the summary table. This means in a given unit, there are approximately five days dedicated to filling out the summary table. At the end of the unit, the summary table acts as  a running record of all of the important concepts of the unit, and it becomes the study guide for the summative assessment.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

3.  Productive Student Discourse (Talks Moves): Student to student discourse is a high leverage student sense making tool. Talk Moves is a series of nine questions or strategies for teachers to use facilitating a class discussion. The purpose of the strategy is to probe student understanding to increase the depth of student knowledge and identify underlying misconceptions and gaps in understanding. By using the Talk Moves, a teacher can help students support each others understanding and facilitate the development of a class consensus.

4.  Student Discourse Sentence Stems: It always amazes me how much students struggle communicating productively with each other. It does not matter the level of my students; from my AP students to my lowest special education student, the ability to articulate and share information is a challenge. Like with any other skill development, I use scaffolds to help my students be successful. When we have a class discussion, my students use this sheet with sentence stems to help them construct their responses to each other.

5.  Gallery Walk: Gallery walks are used after the creation of a student work product like a model. Gallery walks allow students to “idea shop” by gathering ideas from the work of their peers while supporting each other in learning and understanding through the use of constructive feedback. After a gallery walk, students have the opportunity to revise and improve their own work product. The process of a gallery walk promotes the sharing of ideas and the growth mindset grounded in revisionary practices.

6.  Peer Feedback Sentence Stems: When students share ideas and make their thinking visible to their classmates, the natural progression is to provide each other with feedback. The key with peer feedback is teaching the students how to provide constructive feedback to their peers. I group feedback into three categories: agreement, questions, needs improvement. Normally when I use these sentence stems, each type of feedback goes on a different color sticky note. Students are instructed to provide a certain number of each type of feedback. By using the sentence stems, the feedback provided by students for the students leads to deeper understanding of the material.

Tools for Incorporating the 3rd Dimension

 

1.  Questioning for the Next Generation (QNG): Questioning for the Next Generation (QNG) is a protocol designed to increase student ownership of the unit, and promote student engagement. During the course of the QNG protocol, students engage in the Science and Engineering Practice of Asking Questions. The protocol works to assist students to ask questions regarding a phenomenon and looks to increase student understanding of both open and closed questions. Further, it leads students to evaluate the quality of their questions. QNG incorporates the Cross Cutting Concepts in an organic way that not only increases student understanding of the role of the CCCs in science but sets up the unit to explicitly includes these Cross Cutting Concepts. The Questioning for the Next Generation protocol occurs at the start of the unit and is used to develop the unit’s driving question. This protocol allows the students to engage with the phenomenon for a 45 minute class period, increasing student interest and curiosity in the phenomenon. The driving question is created by the students increasing student ownership in the content of the unit.

More Information:

*this tool is expanded on on the page linked here

2.  CCC Scavenger Hunt: The Crosscutting Scavenger hunt is a tool that can be used with a variety of different activities. Students choose two Crosscutting Concepts to focus on for the course of the activity. Students write the identified Crosscutting Concepts in the two perspective boxes. During the activity, students identify all the places where the students see the Crosscutting Concepts. This worksheet has been used to explore the school campus, while watching a video, after reading an article, while completing a gallery walk and in many other contexts in the classroom.

3.  STEM Teaching Tools: Prompts for Integrating the Crosscutting Concepts: STEM Teaching Tools has created a fabulous tool for making the instruction of the Crosscutting Concepts explicit for students. In STEM Teaching Tool Brief #41, there is a series of suggested scenarios or tasks to present student with for each Crosscutting Concept.For each scenario, there is a set of suggested questions to ask students to probe student understanding of the Crosscutting Concept. These prompts can be used to adapt previously used assessment items, worksheets, lab activities, exit slips, do nows and other student deliverables to make these products more 3-dimensional.  

4.  NSTA 2017 CCC Templates: Northeast Georgia RESA has developed a series of Crosscutting Concept worksheets designed to explore a topic or phenomenon through the lense of a CCC. Dr. Amy Peacock and Dr. Jeremy Peacock presented their Crosscutting Concept Templates at the 2017 NSTA conference in Los Angeles.

5.  CCC Posters: The Crosscutting Concepts should be explicit in our teaching and our student’s interactions with the content. Making the Crosscutting Concepts highly visible in my classroom has helped with this process of explicit teaching. These posters hang in the front of my classroom right by my whiteboard and are referenced by both me and my students.
 

A Science Classroom For The Next Generation