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NMSI Blog

Driving Change With Next Generation Science Standards

National Math and Science Initiative teacher training components for middle school science went through a radical re-design this past year taking into account Common Core and Next Generation Science standards.  Below is a brief update from Brian Graves, NMSI Science Director, on where we are and the philosophy behind these changes. It creates a NGSS teacher training component today that will continue to be the focus for our schools who are creating a pipeline of science students for the new AP science tests. 

The big thing to understand is that our training and materials (middle Grades through Physics) stress the importance of teaching and learning science through hands-on, minds-on activities.  We feel the K-12 Framework and the subsequent NGSS are tailored to how we have always presented our materials and our training. The development of the new standards has reinforced our materials and has guided our thinking in how to best improve what we have and what we do in training.  We have redesigned many of our Middle Grades, Biology, and Chemistry materials to be better aligned and more focused on delivering this message.
 
In training, we really focus on getting participants to see the importance of interconnecting the three parts of the framework and the NGSS – content, crosscutting themes, ands science & engineering practices.  While teaching content is essential it isn't the only skill needed to "understand science" and in isolation it does nothing for the "learning of real science".  Our teacher training and our classroom materials emphasize that tying the content to both science & engineering practices as well as to other areas of science is key.  Each of our lessons stresses the use of science processes and practices to show that real science is learned when content is applied and that application involves students doing (i.e. analyzing data, clearly reasoning, planning their own investigations, using evidence and data to support their understandings, etc…). In other words, we want to stress that in teaching science, we must get beyond simply acquiring a compendium of knowledge, definitions and rules.  We must inculcate our students with a yearning to know, to understand, to wonder.  We must not squelch their childhood eagerness embodied by their constant refrain of “why”, but rather embrace and entice the “WHY” by providing rich experiences which reveal the rules and enable students to build personal models of their own understanding.  

Find out more about Next Generation Science teacher training