Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Five Year Mission

Maryland has established a five year timeline for implementation of the NGSS (below).  In order to make that transition with all the other constraints on what the elementary science curriculum must be, I had to start in October 2013.

I can't speak to the secondary requirements.  I am only concerned with the preK-5 implications.  Notice I said "preK".  Yes, Maryland will have pre-Kindergarten science standards.  These have not been established.  The bottom line  is that I have to have at least six grades of curriculum ready by June 2017 in order to be ready for implementation in Fall 2017.  

How will I do it?  Well, I won't be doing it by myself.  I have assembled an amazing group of teachers to be my NGSS Transition Team. More about them later.  This team is meeting now to build the unit blueprints based on the Understanding by Design framework.  Their job is to build what I refer to as the bookends of a unit.  Once the performance expectations are established,  essential questions, and enduring understandings help frame the big ideas (Stage one).  They will also develop the initial performance based assessments that students will have to complete in order to demonstrate understanding (Stage two).  The rest of my timeline follows a very simple pattern.  

Once the NGSS team completes the blueprints, they hand it off to curriculum writers (which fortunately will be many of the team).  These writers will write the initial unit drafts (Stage Three).  Once these drafts are complete, my two resource teachers and I will add meat to the bones.  This will include the addition and creation of learning objects for our new digital curriculum system.  It will also mean the development and testing of the materials needed to implement the various hands-on experiments students will conduct.  That's right, I get to play with scientific materials in my job.  Envy me.  Once we are satisfied with the unit drafts, we train a small pilot group of teachers.  The goal is 10-15 schools scattered across our county.  These teachers implement the units and report back on what needs to be changed.  We make improvements and deploy to all schools the following year.  The year I am most fearful of is 2016.  I will be refining grades 3-5 and monitoring the pilot for grades K-2.  

So, what is your plan to bring the NGSS to the elementary classroom?


  1. For some guidance on standards for preK, take a look at the new NSTA Early Childhood Science Education position statement. It leads into the Elementary Science position statement. http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/
    The Massachusetts Pre-K Science and Technology/Engineering Standards (STE) are based on the NGSS.
    Peggy Ashbrook, co-facilitator NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum (ECSIF)

    1. I had a chance to read over the statement. Our state agency is currently working on the standards. There was a great discussion about the statement on "Lab Out Loud", the NSTA Podcast.

  2. Looking forward to following your blog and reading more about your overall process. We will soon be diving into a re-write of the curriculum - with the NGSS as one influencing component. As a teacher in an independent school, I have some flexibility. I am still trying to wrap my head around the creation of and the organization of the NGSS. Have their been any particular resources that you have found that have helped you out? Other than the standards themselves?

    1. Take a look at my earlier posting on "Bee an Engineer". I've really liked the Engineering is Elementary program. They are a great place to start dabbling in engineering. They do require you to add in the science content as it is not explicit.

  3. Hi Eric et al!
    I found your blog by reading a post about NGSS by Peter McLaren. I'm following along on YOUR journey as we are awaiting some decision making regarding OUR journey - here in New York State. Currently, we have had very little information about whether or not the state will adopt NGSS or adapt our current curriculum. (It is very frustrating as we are concerned about having resources ready for our schools.)
    We are part of a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in the Finger Lakes area of the state - located on the Erie Canal! Anyway, for 45 years we have provided science resources to elementary schools all across our state - to the tune of 14,000 science units distributed per year. Yet, we are a public school, non-profit, entity. Anyway, we are poised to develop brand new units that will embrace NGSS as well as CCSS. We just don't want to invest the time (which is taxpayer money) in doing too much development until we hear something from our State Education Department. Anyway, if you'd like to check out our website, please do! We do offer science units for sale - right now they are not explicitly tied to NGSS, but if NYS does go that way - so will the science kits. In the meantime, we have 3 mini units that are somewhat aligned to both NGSS and CCSS. Here is the main website. Use the tabs to find the CCSS units. http://www.espsciencetime.org
    Best wishes on your journey and I look forward to following along! - Mary Thomas, Elementary Science Program Assistant Director