3 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting With The NGSS

3 Mistakes to Avoid

3 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting With The NGSS

I want to quickly share with you THREE mistakes I made when I transitioned to the NGSS and what I learned from them. 

If you’ve been in the same boat, I hope you walk away knowing – it’s OK. 

And if you haven’t made these yet, I hope you can avoid that pitfall!

#1 I focused too heavily on the Disciplinary Core Ideas

When I first started with the NGSS, I really focused on creating a curriculum that aligned to the Disciplinary Core Ideas. In fact, I printed them all out, cut them into tiny strips, and organized my entire curriculum on these DCIs. While that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it simply goes to show you that I didn’t really understand what three dimensional instruction was all about. 
Don’t make the mistake I did. Content shifts are pretty easy. Focus on how you are incorporating the Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts.

#2 I thought hands-on and student-centered were synonymous with discovery and exploration

I thought that as long as students were the ones doing the work — sorting cards, completing a project, reading a text — that it was an exploration. I thought every lab and simulation that was hands-on was also inherently minds-on. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
“Student-centered” (aka, students are doing something independently or in small groups) and “hands-on” activities don’t always qualify as exploration and discovery. Many hands-on activities are in fact teacher-led — it’s just the leading is happening through a piece of paper or a computer screen. 
True exploration leaves options open to students. These activities withhold the big ideas, giving students a chance to make meaning from and ultimately arrive at the learning themselves. The teacher is the guide, for sure, but students still exhibit ownership and agency.

#3 I assumed everything labeled NGSS was really NGSS

This is SO NOT TRUE. Unfortunately, as states adopted the NGSS, curriculum developers decided to jump on the bandwagon without doing their own due diligence. Materials that aligned (more or less) content-wise were tagged with the standards, despite an utter failure to actually represent three dimensional instruction.
The reality is, if it wasn’t explicitly designed for the NGSS, it’s not going to align to the NGSS. That’s why it’s so important we learn to recognize what quality NGSS instruction and resources look like.