An NGSS-Aligned Earth and Space Science Curriculum

A conceptual storyline for teaching Earth and Space Science at the high school level - aligned to the NGSS.As I mentioned in my previous posts, the curriculum I was given for my first year as a ninth grade earth/space science teacher was basically a list of content students had to “identify” or “explain” plus a copy/paste of the relevant Next Generation Science Standards, coupled with a “pacing guide” that was essentially a table of weeks aligned to textbook pages. Real top notch, right?


Obviously, I needed to make some changes. That said, it was my first year in a new school in a new district, and I had to co-plan with another earth science teacher who had been there for ages. I was determined to align the units with the NGSS, but at the same time, I definitely wasn’t in a place where I could make drastic changes to the structure of the course.

That would change, however.

By the end of the year, I had enough clout with my principal – as well as the support of a great colleague (who had moved into an academic coaching position!) – to write a proposal for a revamped earth/space science curriculum. And it was accepted by our district’s science coordinator for use at our high school!

NSTA Conferences 2016 // You always have a travel companion when you’re nursing. #teachermom

How did this come about? Well, first I attended the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference in Nashville in 2016 and was able to participate in a workshop about writing curriculum aligned to the NGSS. They provided an amazing tool to help organize units into conceptual storylines, which is what we worked from to build our new earth/space science curriculum. While I have developed my own “tool” I use to plan my year-long courses now, this was very helpful to us as we started our process. If you would like to learn more about the process I used today for this discipline-specific course, check out my previous blog post – How To Create An NGSS-Aligned Course Curriculum.

Working together, Mindy and I created an awesome curriculum that our principal and science coordinator loved, and this was even shared with other earth/space science teachers in the district through our shared drive. While the district has yet to officially revise and adopt a new earth/space science curriculum (one actually aligned to the NGSS!), we were given permission to use this new model at our school – which I’ll call a success!

Download our Scope and Sequence and Pacing Guide here! (Side Note: We decided to include HS-ESS1-4 in a Physical Science class, so that is not included in our sequencing. Don’t forget to address it somewhere!)

a high school earth science curriculum, ngss-aligned

While you’re at it, join our Facebook group for support in implementing NGSS-aligned instruction. And don’t forget to sign up for Intro To The NGSS to get a free mini-course delivered right to your inbox!