Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reflections on a Second Summer of NGSS Curriculum Writing

I'm happy to report that I survived the summer curriculum writing adventure.   I have to honestly say that this year's work went a lot better than last year's.   This is not to disparage last year's writers in any way.  I simply did not have the experience with the NGSS at that time.  A year of working on that curriculum coupled with a healthy infusion of evidence statements yields much better work.  I can't compliment my team enough.  They far exceeded my expectation.  Among the tasks completed:
  • Unpacked standards using the evidence statements and converted them to "I can" statements.  
  • Created performance assessments including rubrics
  • Created "content assessments" and loaded them to our assessment engine
  • Wrote every lesson for the unit using Understanding by Design and 5E (see previous post for lesson plan outline)
  • Edited lessons within our learning management system
  • Made partnerships with outside entities in order to provide students with local and realistic roles within our performances.
  • Tested many of the hands-on aspects to the units. ( This is why we do this job.  Let's be honest.)

A few words about our assessment model.  You will see that I mentioned both performance and a "content" assessment.  Our units start by asking students to solve a problem using only their background knowledge.  This is a pre-performance assessment.  Whatever standards cannot be realistically assessed through the performance are assessed using the "content" assessment.  These usually assess more than content but I could not come up with another name.  "Leftover" assessment just would not work.  At the end of the unit, students are given a parallel set of assessments.  The performance is a chance for students to iterate their original design.  In between these two assessment events, every lesson comes back to solving the problem.  


Relevance, if you have not heard already, is of paramount importance to me.  To that end, one last comment about the evidence statements.  The team did a great job writing a curriculum that which assess the vast majority of them.  However, my charge to team was that if they could not make an evidence statement fit into the curriculum, they were not to use it.  Doubtless, this may come back to bite me whenever the assessments come out, but I would much rather have kids see their learning as meaningful to them.  


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