How can you use the NGSS in elective science classes?
Content changes are one of the most obvious changes – and the easiest to understand — when it comes to adopting the NGSS. The NGSS is all about helping students develop the BIG IDEAS in science. While most standards – for years and years – have focused on facts and figures, information to “stuff” into your students’ brains – the goal of the NGSS is to develop in students a conceptual understanding of scientific ideas and foster the skills (or in NGSS language, the practices) that scientists use every day to understand the natural world. For that reason, when you look at the standards, you don’t see a list of facts – or even topics.
Instead, the part of the standards that addresses content is called the Disciplinary Core Ideas. Disciplinary Core Ideas. The CORE ideas all students should understand about our natural world before they graduate high school.
The NGSS were literally designed to outline the BASIC science understanding and skills students should have by the time they graduate. For many students, it will take them their full K-12 career to achieve these standards.
But In Science Electives…
That said, for students who are preparing for post-secondary study and/or careers in science fields — who are taking advanced courses or science electives — your content very well may fall outside the scope of the NGSS. And that’s OK! You’re adding that EXTRA. So while you should absolutely be working to address the DCIs that are relevant to your course, you may be adding a whole lot of extra content in as well. You’re supposed to. Your students are going above and beyond the “core” science knowledge and skills. So don’t sweat it, and don’t feel like you can’t use the NGSS. You can. You can tie in what’s relevant (reinforcing what students have already learned in their “basic” classes) and – this is the important part – you can “NGSS” your actual instructional approaches to provide your students with a truly engaging and empowering classroom experience that will prepare them for science in the real world!
So if you are teaching science electives or advanced courses, don’t think you can’t “NGSS your classroom.” Adopting the NGSS isn’t just about content. Adopting the NGSS is about changing the WAY you teach science, and you can do that no matter WHAT content you are teaching.
If you’re wondering about what kind of changes you should be making in the WAY you teach, check out the Intro To The NGSS mini-course — totally free, delivered by email, and completed at your own pace! Enroll by clicking here!
Science Teacher Tribe: Convenient and Comprehensive NGSS Professional Development
If you are anything like me, transitioning to the NGSS can be totally overwhelming. Teaching is hard as it is – you’re busy keeping up with the “normal” lessons day to day and week to week, plus grading, meetings, IEPs, behavior management, so on and so forth. I get it. Who has the time or energy to figure out all that goes into these new standards and their impact on your curriculum, let alone what it means for your teaching!
Well, I’m happy to say there IS an easier way. You don’t HAVE to muddle through everything, and you definitely don’t have to do it alone!
Imagine feeling confident that the curriculum you designed is actually aligned to the standards, that your units incorporate the three dimensions and engage your students in Science and Engineering Practices that matter. Imagine your classes full of students who take ownership of their learning, who thrive on “figuring it out” and “puzzling through it” and come to learn the content through discovery. Imagine days where you DON’T have to stand in front of the class, battling for their attention, delivering boring lectures and notes, printing worksheet after worksheet, and wasting tons of time on review and reteaching — only to have your students fail to perform anyway. Take a minute and really consider — a classroom where learning sticks, and the engaging activities you’re already doing lead to true understanding. It’s not magic, and it doesn’t necessarily come easy, but it IS possible.
Learn more at the Science Teacher Tribe Course and Community.