Tuesday, May 27, 2014

So why change to the NGSS?

Long time no blog.  Sorry for the absence.  I've been a little busy with our STEM Fair.  When 2000 people show up to your house, it takes some time to prepare.  I will discuss the STEM Fair in a later posts and what its future MAY holds for us.   The reason I am not talking about it now is, well.  I have to get permission to do what I want to do first.  I'm sure many of you have been following the discussion on the NSTA listserv to teach the "SCIENTIFIC METHOD" or not.  Clearly the NGSS makes it clear that separating practice from content is not the way to go, but then what?  Stay tuned.  

My timidity in discussing it as this point is due to the fact that I have to make sure the principals (all 110) are on board before making the change.  STEM Fair is not small undertaking.  For those of you that have suffered through the science fair process as a teacher and/or parent can appreciate the consternation it can frequently wreak.  So, any change has to be proceeded with a input from all stakeholders.  A lesson I learned the hard way many moons ago.   

The webinar I am doing is to present the transition plan; most of which you have seen here.  It is also to seek input from principals for those things I have not considered.  Undoubtedly, time will come up.  It is as inevitable as death and taxes.  So here is my response at this point.  Expecting to teach science for thirty minutes a day is a waste of time (cue GASP).  If you go back to my blog entry on "Rough Estimates of Unit Length", I have some idea of how long it will take to teach all that is asked in the NGSS.  With these estimates in mind, I went back to our current suggested schedule and did some calculations based on a daily schedule and if the same time was compressed into longer times but less days during the week.  Would I like to have an hour a day?  Yes, but I know the demands of the elementary day do not make it feasible.  Instead of asking for more total time.  I just want the time allotted to be used for efficiently.  

Please do not take these times as suggested instructional blocks, but look at them as another way to think about the daily schedule.   

Please do not take these times as suggested instructional blocks, but look at them as another way to think about the daily schedule. 

With that out of the way,  the next inevitable question is "Why change?"  I won't take credit for this. The idea came up at our latest state meeting.  One of my fellow curriculum supervisors (name omitted to protect the innocent) reminded the assembled that the last standards were written in 1996.  Starting there, she took the principals on a little journey of what has changed since 1996.  I borrowed that idea and created a slide to illustrate some of  the changes.

Just for some context.  Bill Clinton and Al Gore were elected to a second term. The other guy was our superintendent (which is only relevant if you are a local).  The gray scale picture is what NASA thought was evidence of life on Mars.  Coincidentally, the movie "Independence Day" where aliens come and try to take over came out.  Dolly the sheep was cloned.  Mad cow disease flared up in the UK.  The iconic Macintosh "blueberries" started appearing in classrooms.  Digital storage capacity swelled with the 100mb Zip Drive.  The cell phone of the age had to be shown.  Not the brick of "Wall Street", but close.  Lastly, gas prices went climbing past one dollar.  In another coincidence, Toyota brought out the first Prius.  So, why change?  The fact of the mater is science and now engineering are dynamic.  If progress continues, expect another set of standards by 2023.   If, I don't post again, you will know that I did not survive the presentation.      

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An NGSS Symbaloo for Curriculum Development

I have been compiling resources so my team is ready for this summer.  Symbaloo seemed a perfect tool to display the resources for my writers.  The basic anatomy of the webmix is as follows:
  • Turquoise is primarily federal and state resources.  PBS falls into this category.
  • Yellow is more open ended.  Some are private entities that supply content like Nat Geo.
  • Blue is strictly video based.  While most are linked to YouTube, I wanted to point my team in the right direction for efficiency purposes.
  • Orange are focused on PBL ideas.  I've been hitting the Buck Institute site very hard.  Fantastic stuff!  I love the Tubric for developing driving questions.  
As always, if you see something I missed, please pass it on.