Friday, March 7, 2014

Winning the Hearts and Minds

Wow!  I should have thought about sending this out to the NSTA community earlier.  Glad to have you on board.   I thought I would talk a little more about my NGSS transition team.  I made mention of them in my previous post.  The team is made up of 30 classroom teachers.  I made that a requirement for service.  Too often, specialists that are not living the day to day implementation of curriculum ultimately dictate what happens in the classroom.  I feel very strongly that that if a curriculum is going to be accepted by teachers, then teachers must be intimately involved in its creation.  I also made sure the teachers that help develop the curriculum are also there when we conduct the professional development.  I'm not in a classroom so I know I do not of a legitimate voice in front of teachers.

Besides being a classroom teacher, I also wanted representation from all areas of our county.  I have to make sure the curriculum speaks to all students and not just to the "Lake Wobegon" region.  This resulted in six teams of five.  One team for each grade level with a teacher from each of the five geographic regions.

The team has been meeting throughout the year and I am constantly amazed by their endurance.  We are dealing with some profound changes in how science will be taught.  Given that much of the change focuses on the "Practices", I opted to spend a lot of time on those (see image below).  I also wanted to make sure the team had a chance to think about how this curriculum would be reflected in our new Learning Management System (LMS).

Our first workshop was on "Argument Based on Evidence".  I was very fortunate to have Carla Zebal-Saul and her team from Penn State come down to work with us.  After reading her book "What's Your Evidence?", I know their CER (Claim-Evidence-Reasoning) framework was what I wanted for every student.  I will expound about this workshop later.


The premise for the second workshop really focused on how do we make math a meaningful part of the science curriculum.  What came out of it was a focus on having students apply the math concepts they should be fluent in for a particular grade level according to Common Core.

I am very excited about the upcoming April workshop.  Spatial literacy is something you will hear me rant about if you keep reading this blog.  A lot of current research points to it being a missing link in developing a STEM ready workforce.  This is particularly true in underrepresented populations.

The goal of the June workshop will be to complete Stage 1 and 2 according to Understanding by Design. This means establishing an essential question, enduring understandings, and a performance based assessment  for each unit.  These blueprints will then be turned over to the curriculum development team in July to complete stage 3.

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