ESU#9 Area Schools: Professional Learning
The goal of this flyer is to keep you up-to-date on the current workshops and/or opportunities for professional growth in our area. Please feel free to contact me with updates, concerns, questions, or suggestions @ email@example.com.
Bookmark this flyer address as it will automatically update as well as include past, present, and future opportunities for professional growth.
NDE Science Specialist - Audrey Webb & SEPTEMBER MONTHYLY MEMO
Hello Nebraska Science!
In September's Monthly Memo, you'll find professional development opportunities, resources, and more!
Register for the Interstate Science Collaborative's Fall Book Club on Ambitious Science Teaching, the NATS Fall Conference and ESU 3's Activate Science Learning with Brett Moulding sessions for elementary and secondary teachers all in one place.
If environmental education is your thing, save the date for the Elevating Conservation: Empowering and Connecting Nebraska Nature and Science Educators conference in January. Or connect with the indigenous community and learn about the ethnoscience approach to chemistry in a virtual session.
It's application season as well! Nominate someone or apply for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching of Math and Science, the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award, or the National Youth Science Camp.
Science Education Specialist
500 S. 84th Street, 2nd Floor
Lincoln, NE 6851--2611
P: (531) 207-4186
NATS FALL CONFERENCE: OCTOBER 7-9, 2021
NATS FALL CONFERENCE: OCTOBER 7-9, 2021
The 2021 NATS Fall Conference planning committee has been working hard to bring you an amazing, in-person conference experience located at
Doane University in Crete Nebraska. Mark your calendars and REGISTER today!
Have a session you want to present at the conference?
Medical Terminology Games - Health Science
4 Engaging Medical Terminology Games to Boost Student Motivation
HEALTH SCIENCE | MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY: When teaching difficult concepts such as medical terminology, health science teachers can feel overwhelmed and frustrated. You want your students to engage with and memorize important material, but you might be uncertain about how to keep your students focused and energized. Worse still, you fear that your students may be bored and unable to master vocabulary that will be a part of assessments and certification exams.
We've seen thousands of teachers like you struggle to keep students engaged, which is one of the reasons we created our HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system. HealthCenter21 helps teachers save time while keeping learners focused in an engaging way. But sometimes you are looking for supplemental games and activities to boost your existing medical terminology lesson plans.
Our Beautiful Planet is a series of compelling 5-to-7-minute science films highlighting the cutting edge research that climate scientists are doing to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.
NSTA and Kikim Media have partnered to launch these films and this collection of classroom-ready lesson plans that highlight the science and engineering practices scientists use to explain the phenomena of climate.
The Future of Shellfish
Marine physiologist Markus Frederich is finding that while some sea creatures, like the lobster, seem to be climate change losers, others, like the green crab, appear to be winners. Markus and his students show us how and why.
Grade Level: Middle School | Time: Two (2) 45-minute class periods
The Superpowers of Seaweed
In Maine, marine biologists investigate a way to protect shellfish from the damage caused by one of the lesser-known consequences of climate change: the rising level of carbon dioxide in the ocean. CO2 makes sea water more acidic and that damages shells. Their experiment: raising mussels in close proximity to seaweed, which takes CO2 out of ocean water.
Grade Level: Middle and High School Levels | Time: Two (2) 45-minute class periods
The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the rest of the global ocean. Since 2004, its temperature has been rising at a rate of one degree Celsius every four years. If that rate continues, by 2050 the Gulf of Maine would be eight degrees warner. This film highlights the impact on Maine’s economy, weather, and way of life it this warming continues.
Grade Level: Community Activity | Time: One (1) 60-90 minute session
FREE Lesson Plans
(K-5) Free E-Book and Data Collection Activity Sheet!
About the Book
Florence the Data Scientist and Her Magical Bookmobile is a picture book for young readers 6-8 that explores and explains one of today’s most important and fastest growing professions: data science! How can recording and analyzing data for patterns help make predictions about the future? Join Beatrice as she finds out.
ELA + SEL + Science Writing Competition:
The project weaves together social-emotional learning, science, and English language arts to leverage the pandemic as a ‘teachable moment’ for students to reflect on system connectedness. Resources for teachers, elementary students, and middle/high school students to take part in the project and writing competition can be found here: https://ianrcommunities.unl.edu/pandemic-pathways. Deadline to submit a story to the writing competition is April 30, 2021!
If you can help support us in getting this offering out to your teacher network, we would really appreciate it! I am also attaching a graphic we used for social media if that’s helpful.
Thanks for your time and consideration!
Erin Ingram, Ph.D. (she/her)
Science Literacy/Community Engagement Coordinator
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
252 Chase Hall | 3605 Fair Street
P. O. Box 830726
Lincoln, NE 68583
Freebies for K-12
Girls and Women in STEM Web Page
Developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center with funding from Johnson & Johnson, this page offers a mix of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) resources to excite K–12 audiences about STEM. The resources—including lessons, quick activities, e-books, news articles, engineering design challenges, and curriculum—engage learners in STEM pursuits that encourage all students—especially girls—to consider careers in STEM fields. For example, activities such as Simulating Sutures (ages 7–11) develop critical-thinking skills as students design suture models with yarn (natural fiber), plastic lacing (synthetic fiber), and pipe cleaners (staples) and practice medical stitch techniques to compare the performance of each suture type.
Accompanying lesson materials include brief interviews with suture scientists Toykea Jones and Vivian Liang, who describe their jobs and share how they got started in their careers. Colorful infographics feature current information and statistics relating to timely topics such as Learning Science Through Inquiry, Digital Initiatives in STEM Education, and Transforming Science Education. Teachers can share the downloadable infographics with middle and high school students to help them see the benefits of pursuing STEM studies.
Girl Scouts at Home (With STEM)
At Girl Scouts at Home, Girl Scouts USA’s online platform, K–12 teachers can access engaging STEM activities “for every girl” (and boy!). The 14 activities—developed as part of the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, Manufacturing, and Design initiative and modified for publication on the Girl Scouts at Home platform—explore STEM topics such as nanometers, computer coding, engineering design challenges, and circuits. For example, students might use household materials to Build Your Own Touch-Screen Stylus; create rock sculptures kept in place by nothing more than shape, weight, and friction in Rock and Roll: Balancing River Rocks; or research mosquito behaviors, then play a game to Be Mosquito Smart. An educator guide with relevant details (e.g., time and materials needed, setup, and instructions) accompanies each activity.
Planting the Seed With Primary Sources
Help students of all ages explore the role of gardens and gardening in history with primary sources from the Library of Congress (LOC). A recent post in the Teaching With the LOC blog highlights images and blog posts from two teachers on the topic. One post, Primary Sources in Science Classrooms: Plants, Photos From Tuskegee, and Planning Investigations, suggests learning activities based on a historical photograph of workers in a Tuskegee Institute greenhouse. In the example, fourth graders use a modified version of the LOC’s Primary Source Analysis Tool to observe (I see), reflect (I think), and question (I wonder) to organize thoughts about the photograph, which spurs further research about the historic work undertaken at the Tuskegee Institute. Similarly, the post Preparing for Spring by Celebrating School Gardens has students examine a U.S. School Garden Army poster from 1918, then reflect on questions such as what was the “U.S. School Garden Army,” and why were the U.S. Bureau of Education and Department of Interior marketing it? These musings can help students consider their own gardening efforts and the larger purpose for gardens in school and community environments.
Mars Rover Perseverance Website
Excite K–12 students and space history fans of all ages about space exploration and beyond with these educational resources about Perseverance, the latest rover to land on Mars. The website from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum features articles, podcasts, videos, and even an augmented reality (AR) app to give visitors a front-row seat to Mars exploration and discovery. Listen to the podcast AirSpace: The Rover, which in 15 minutes examines the details of NASA’s Mission to Mars, including what makes the mission so special (hint: Think soil sample caches and the very first helicopter on Mars). Watch a live (archived) video chat with an aspiring astronaut and founder of "The Mars Generation," who shares the latest developments in and future plans regarding Mars exploration. Drive a rover, walk the Martian surface, and play robot geologist using the Mission to Mars AR app
In this game for grades K–2, students build physics and engineering understandings as they design solutions to mini-golf challenges. Originally created to supplement a physical science curriculum module for kindergarten from Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, How Can We Change an Object’s Motion?, the game asks students to manipulate wooden blocks onscreen and test big and small pushes to successfully guide a golf ball to the hole. The web-based game can be played on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Elementary and Middle Levels
Activities to Do With Children Outdoors
From creating nature-inspired poems and investigating nature mystery boxes to researching “green” careers and comparing soil samples, these simple, family-friendly activity ideas from Project Learning Tree enable K–8 students to learn about nature, build emotional and physical resiliency, and observe and appreciate the natural world—right in their own backyards! The activities, which are downloadable in both English and Spanish versions, include instructions, guiding questions, and additional resources. Several activities—e.g., The Closer You Look (investigating tree structure) and The Shape of Things (investigating shapes in nature)—also include demonstration videos.
The Homeschool Scientist
Filled with hands-on experiments, curriculum choices, science resources, and expert advice, this website helps elementary and middle level educators in homeschool and classroom settings lessen their fears around teaching science and infuses lessons with fun. Search for activities by science discipline or topic, and browse the site’s collection of free printables, which address everything from notebooking pages on outer space to atom lessons and animal reports. Science activities include How to Make a Peep Blow Up a Balloon, Milk Fireworks, and How to Make an Easy Birdfeeder. The site also provides resources and tips (via blog posts) to help educators and parents stay organized when conducting science experiments at home or in distance-learning environments.
Middle and High School Levels
Science and Our Food Supply is a curriculum program published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that features inquiry activities (Teachers Guides), videos, and games to help students connect food safety, nutrition, and biotechnology topics to their everyday lives. For example, Science and Our Food Supply: Exploring Food Agriculture and Biotechnology (2020 Edition) highlights the use of modern agriculture technologies. The guide’s activities address topics such as selective breeding, DNA in food crops, genetic engineering (GE) methods, evaluating food from GE plants, and labeling processes for food containing ingredients from GE plants.
The website also has resources to increase students’ food safety knowledge. Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety Interactive Video is a lively, 45-minute presentation summarizing content in the guide Science and Our Food Supply: Investigating Food Safety from Farm to Table. Food Safety A to Z Reference Guide is an online glossary of food safety information and definitions in an easy-to-access alphabetical format. Use these resources to build students’ understandings about food safety topics, then test what they know with the game Love a Million (Bacteria). Similarly formatted to the TV quiz series Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, this game—which includes game rules, question sets (four questions each), and an answer key—lets students have fun while teachers assess their knowledge of food safety science and safe food handling practices.
Infectious Diseases, Science Literacy, and Citizen Behavior: Helping Students Make Connections Using Historical Newspaper Articles
A recent post from the Teaching with the Library of Congress (LOC) blog summarizes an article that appeared in the Sources and Strategies column in the January/February 2021 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies. Written by the LOC’s Michael Apfeldorf, the column highlights three historical newspaper articles (from the LOC) about measles and actions citizens could take to protect themselves and their neighbors. The column also suggests teaching strategies for using them in middle and high school classrooms, such as close textual analysis and comparing and contrasting. As the historical newspaper articles were written in different time periods (one in 1913, another in 1955, and a third in 1963), the strategies provide valuable opportunities for students to delve into the historical connections between science literacy and citizen behavior.
Middle Through College Levels
Vax! Understanding Epidemic Prevention Game
Try this game to teach middle to college level students about the dynamics of epidemic spread and prevention. The interactive, puzzle-style game developed at Penn State University helps students understand how disease spreads across a network and how vaccines work to reduce the spread. In the game, players prepare for an outbreak by vaccinating a “network” (a series of connected dots) that models human social networks. Then an infectious outbreak begins to spread, and players are challenged to quell the epidemic by quarantining individuals at risk of becoming infected. Before playing the game with students, click through an interactive explanatory “tour” of the game to learn definitions and information about its key components (e.g., networks, epidemics, vaccines, and quarantining). A second interactive module explains how herd immunity works and how it differs among pathogens.
Metals in Aqueous Solutions
In this online simulation for grades 9–12, students conduct tests of various metals in aqueous solutions to determine the relative reactivity of the metals and record their observations. Through four simulated tests, students observe a total of eight metals in various combinations with the corresponding metal nitrate solutions and hydrochloric acid. Students interpret their collected data to construct an activity series—i.e., a list of elements in decreasing order of their reactivity—of the elements used in the simulation. (Note: Though all educators can access the online simulation activity for free, only American Association of Chemistry Teachers members can access the simulation’s accompanying teacher’s guide.)
A collection of 10 lessons from the Nature Conservancy explores environmental topics. Targeted for grades 9–12, Nature Lab’s lessons include accompanying teachers guides and videos and address topics such as urban runoff, biomimicry, and climate change. In addition, a Virtual STEM Career Fair promotes dynamic careers in those fields. Through a 45-minute video presentation and accompanying materials, students meet three STEM professionals working in dynamic positions in engineering, ecology, and advocacy. Visit the website for descriptions of all the available Nature Lab lessons and access the relevant Teacher Guides.
Elementary Science Opportunity: 3rd - 5th Grade
Great Opportunity for 3-5th grade Science Teachers!
I am reaching out to you because of your work with educators in outdoor learning spaces. I am currently recruiting 35 teachers or afterschool educators to participate in Garden TOOLS for Corn, a Nebraska Corn Board-funded opportunity to receive FREE professional development, curriculum resources, and supplies to support student learning in school garden spaces.
Garden TOOLS for Corn leverages BBC micro:bit microcontrollers to encourage students in grades 3-5 to explore outdoor growing spaces through technology. Students will have opportunities to design solutions to address personally meaningful issues and improve garden spaces.
Nearly 200 pre-service elementary teachers have already received Garden TOOLS for Corn training. We are now expanding our reach to offer training and supplies to in-service teachers and afterschool educators across the state! In addition to the Garden TOOLS for Corn virtual PD experience, participants will receive an “ag tech in the outdoors” kit (valued at $350 which includes a classroom set of 15 BBC micro:bits and assorted accessories).
If you or a teacher you know is interested in registering for our virtual workshop scheduled for March 8, 2021 from 1:30-4:30 (CST), a registration form is available here: https://forms.gle/TiWaZmc6ANcGLKNt5. Registration is limited and priority will be given to those who work with students in grades 3-5. If you have additional questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erin Ingram, Ph.D.
Science Literacy/Community Engagement Coordinator
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
252 Chase Hall | 3605 Fair Street
P. O. Box 830726
Lincoln, NE 68583
Links to Virtual Field Trips
platforms that can be used to take virtual field trips around the world, build vocabulary and
background knowledge, check out the setting of a novel, or make connections to current
- AirPano https://www.airpano.com – 360-degree videos and images from around the
- Good Maps Treks https://www.google.com/maps/about/treks/#/grid - Destinations
include Egypt, Nepal, India, Canada, and the U.S.;
- National Geographic https://www.youtube.com/user/NationalGeographic - Videos
about different cultures, foods, animals, and more;
- Nearpod https://nearpod.com – 360-degree panoramic views to spark discussions in
science, social studies, and other subjects;
- 360Cities https://www.360cities.net – A collection of panoramic images from around
the world; here’s a school version: https://schools.360cities.net ;
- Google Arts and Culture https://artsandculture.google.com – Interactive views that let
students walk through museums and explore notable architecture.
“6 Free Resources for Virtual Field Trips” by Monica Burns in Edutopia, January 26, 2021
Tennessee District Science Network
In early 2019, NextGenScience launched the Tennessee District Science Network (TDSciN), a group of six districts in Tennessee working collaboratively to improve their science programs and move towards the vision of science education reflected in the Tennessee Academic Standards for Science.
From the outset, district leaders identified three major challenges:
- Educators were still learning how to assess student reasoning in science as required by the new standards,
- Not all students were provided with meaningful science experiences, and
- Students were scheduled to take a new state assessment. With the goal of addressing these challenges by improving understanding of assessment features designed for today’s science standards and advancing equity in science, the work of the Tennessee District Science Network was two-pronged: coherent but separate professional learning opportunities both for district leaders and for educators.
Resource and Tasks: https://ngs.wested.org/tennessee-district-science-network/#high
ILLINOIS SCIENCE TEACHING ASSOCIATION & HS Storylines
ABOUT THE WORKING GROUP
After engaging in over 200 hours of professional development with national experts, we knew that in order to really understand how to bring NGSS to classrooms, teachers needed to experience the same productive struggle that kids do in an NGSS classroom. With that in mind, we formed the first storylining working group, which is open to anyone to join at any time. The group is led by Dr. Jason Crean and Mrs. Kristin Rademaker and meets once a month to maintain that open collaboration. We are able to offer Professional Development Credits to participants with an open-door policy.
We began this project with 3 goals in mind:
- Train educators in three-dimensional learning, teaching, and coherent curricular design through sustained collaborative work and by both experiencing and doing it themselves;
- Create coherent storylines, including embedded three-dimensional assessment pieces that will evolve over time through continuous feedback from pilot teachers; and most of all
- Share our work- for teachers, by teachers, for free- with any stakeholders interested in making the fundamental shift towards a three-dimensional classroom.
Virtual Field Trip from the University of Nebraska State Museum
Science Chat Special: Winter Weather
Virtual Field Trip
with Kristen Axon, Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Student
ONE DAY ONLY │January 26, 2021
Kristen has loved weather since she was a little girl. She now chases storms for science. When most of us stay inside, she goes out! Kristen is excited to share her passion and the instruments scientists use to track and monitor the weather. During the program, learn what makes ice and snow, and then hear about when Kristen worked for an ICICLE! There will be plenty of time for Q&A as well.
Sessions will take place at 9:30 a.m. (Microsoft Teams), 10:30 a.m. (Zoom), or 2:00 p.m. (Zoom).
Central Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair
CENTRAL NEBRASKA SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FAIR
The Central Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair is going VIRTUAL for 2021.
- Students will build a virtual poster.
- Students will create and record a presentation about their project.
DETAILS BELOW ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. SEE WEBSITE FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION.
- Project registration OPENS on January 1, 2021 at 12:00 AM CST.
- Project registration CLOSES is February 17, 2021, at 11:59 PM CST.
- Students must submit their virtual poster and presentation by 9:00 AM CST on February 24, 2021.
- Finalists will be announced on social media on March 7. Interviews with the finalists will be scheduled.
- A virtual award presentation will be made available on Monday, March 15, 2021, on our webpage.
- THREE Projects in grades 9-12 are eligible for the VIRTUAL ISEF competition.
- Special awards (including cash prizes) are available in both the junior high and senior high divisions.
- There are NO registration fees thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund!
- More details on how the format of the poster and presentation will be emailed out and posted on our website by January 1, 2021.
If any teachers want to be notified by email of announcements concerning this competition, please contact me using the email below to get on the mailing list: (email@example.com).
Central Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
FREE Webinars from Argument Driven Inquiry!
Free Webinar: Tool Talk and Types of Investigations
In this webinar, we'll discuss tips and tricks for the tool talk, and go through the different kinds of ADI Investigations.
- Date: Wednesday, Jan. 27th
- Time: 1:30 pm Pacific, 3:30 pm Central, 4:30 pm Eastern
Free Webinar: Argument Creation and the Argumentation Session
In this webinar, we'll talk through some tips and tricks for making the argument board creation and argumentation process go smoothly in a virtual setting.
- Date: Wednesday, Feb. 24th
- Time: 1:30 pm Pacific, 3:30 pm Central, 4:30 pm Eastern
Launch Nebraska: Supporting Independent Science Learning
NDE’s Science Education Specialist
Office of Teaching, Learning, & Assessment
I am excited to share that Audrey Webb has accepted our offer to become NDE’s Science Education Specialist. Audrey’s first day will be Monday, June 22nd.
For the past four years, Audrey has taught in the San Francisco (CA) Unified School District teaching high school science. In this position, she designed and implemented project-based curricula for secondary biology, physiology, and physical science. In addition, she is a member of the San Francisco Teaching Residency program, a program designed to train teacher candidates in equitable instruction and assessment, cultural relevance, and restorative practices. Audrey also has experience as a Title I Reading Teacher and an EL Support Specialist. She holds a B.A. in Science from St. Olaf College (2011) and a Master of Education from Stanford University (2016).
Audrey is a “native” of three-dimensional science standards, and I am excited about the experience she brings in providing phenomenon-based instruction and assessment, informed by her training at Stanford. She has family in Western Iowa, so she is excited about getting closer to her family.
Once she starts, I know that Aubrey will start to make contact with each of you, but I wanted to let you all know the good news. Thanks!
Challenger Learning Center & eMISSIONS!
Hello from the Challenger Learning Center, we know that today’s students are tomorrow’s innovators and we are excitedly gearing up for another successful year. If you have already booked your e-Mission, we look forward to working with you and your students! If you have not yet booked your e-Mission for this year It’s Not Too Late!
You will find the current list of e-Missions and e-Labs that we offer for grades
We value your commitment to quality education, and our staff at the CLC will continue to support you in this process. If you are having difficulties with scheduling, for whatever reason, please contact us so we can assist you in anyway we can to bring these exciting distance learning experiences back to your school.
Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me or our Program Registrar Kristi West at 304 243-8740 email@example.com
Laura Ondeck | Lead Flight Director
The Challenger Learning Center
316 Washington Ave, Wheeling WV, 26003
Phone: (304) 243-2029 | Fax: (304) 243-2497| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences
The Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences is designed to promote science and technology across Nebraska by providing incentives for students to apply creativity and critical thought to solutions of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and engineering problems. It offers an opportunity for students to meet, exchange ideas, and discuss career possibilities with scientists and engineers from colleges and industries.
Students will develop a scientific research project, write an abstract of the project, and give an oral presentation the day of the competitions. Students will compete in two divisions: Grades 6-8 in the Junior Division and Grades 9-12 in the Senior Division. Each Regional Science Competition will select 6 junior and 6 senior high projects to advance to the State Science Fair. Judges at the State Science Fair will nominate ten Senior Division projects to attend the American Junior Academy of Sciences Conference. These students will present their research in a poster and round table session. There are 6 different regional science fairs your school can compete in. Contact the regional director for registration and more information.
OER Microsites and Other OER repositories for PK - 12
https://goopenmichigan.org/ - Social Studies textbooks by grade level, Science materials and CK-12 flexbooks for 4 - 8th grade, check out the Phenomenal Science Collection - Units of Study for lower grades are here
https://secondarysciencemodules.uconn.edu/ - Storylines, units, tasks, and assessments are linked to the multiple DCI’s covered within. For multiple grades.
https://sites.google.com/uni.edu/welcome-to-assist-science/unit-plans?authuser=0 - Elementary Science Units K - 5
https://www.uen.org/ - Flexbooks for Science for 3 - 8th grade a well as Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science with web pages with supporting materials for each book, lots of CTE content and materials
https://wlresources.dpi.wi.gov/ - Physical Science Textbooks and Materials, Life Science Textbooks and materials, Professional Development Materials
http://ioer.ilsharedlearning.org/ - All subject areas at all levels
https://www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org/ - textbooks
Unwrapped Indicators by Nebraska Educators! Looking for vocabulary? Concepts? Skills? Level of Rigor?
3 Ways to Know if You’re Using Quality Science Materials
3 Features of High-Quality Science Materials
1. “Phenomena don’t have to be phenomenal” but they should be intentional.
Phenomena are observable events that occur in the universe that students can explain or predict with their knowledge of science. Tides, sunrise, leaves changing color, and the way dew collects on grass are just a few of the many examples of phenomena.
Phenomena-driven instruction can transform classrooms into places where students’ curiosity and wonder are the foundation for learning, where building knowledge is centered around understanding the natural and man-made world around them, and where kids are honing the investigative skills of scientists that can benefit them no matter what path they ultimately choose.
But what separates average instructional materials from great ones is that the best materials are purposeful when presenting phenomena. They connect the phenomena students are exploring to the core science ideas and concepts students need to learn.
Chemical reactions often make impressive phenomena, but students need to be able to explain what caused the color to change, or what caused a gas to be released, or how the number and types of atoms were conserved during the reaction. Without opportunities to collect data or analyze information about the reaction to build these explanations, the reaction serves as nothing more than something interesting to see.
It’s easy to pick out all sorts of engaging phenomena to wow students, but if phenomena are only used to capture student attention, taught in isolation, or are irrelevant to students’ experience, we’re missing a huge opportunity.
Instead, these questions are at their best when students investigate them as a way to engage in science and engineering practices or to identify larger patterns and connections on their way to a deeper understanding of science content. In short, the content students must master should always guide the choice of phenomena, not the other way around.
2. Students have opportunities to do the thinking, questioning, designing, and discovering for themselves
The phenomena we choose matters, but so does the way students engage with those phenomena. We must be wary of materials that do the work of students for them, explaining phenomena too readily or presenting content as a series of facts and terms for students to memorize.
For example, we should shy away from content that simply shows students a video of an eclipse to generate interest and immediately follows this video with text that describes how an eclipse occurs. Instead, students should have opportunities to generate their own questions and ideas about the cause of an eclipse, and then engage in opportunities to model or test their own ideas as they make sense of this phenomenon.
Quality materials provide common entry points and opportunities for students to ask their own questions, collect their own evidence, and construct their own explanations connected to science content.
What’s more, well-designed materials offer structures that support kids in thinking like scientists: in identifying patterns so that they can understand cause and effect relationships, in digging deeper into systems and models to test ideas or develop explanations based on the data they’ve collected and the knowledge they’ve been building.
The research shows that students are most likely to excel when they are engaging in science rather than just learning about it. The best materials support teachers in creating classrooms where students are not simply passive recipients of facts, but active participants in constructing their own knowledge.
3. Learning objectives are meaningful and connected to the standards
As educators, we all understand that the lessons and units we’re teaching students have bigger learning goals attached to them: goals for the day, goals for the week, goals for year. The materials you’re using should display that same level of understanding and connection to those larger learning goals, and the standards students and teachers will ultimately be held accountable to.
In examining science materials, it’s a good idea to take a look at how the learning objectives are presented to both the teacher and the student. It should be clear how each objective relates not only to the performance expectations but to the larger standards for a particular grade-level or grade band. Assessments play a role here as well: how students are evaluated must be directly connected to what the materials present and the knowledge kids are spending their time building.
Teachers and students will be in a much better position if materials are clear about how each learning objective is connected to the bigger picture. Programs can offer many different pathways for meeting the standards, but those paths should be evident to the ones guiding and participating in the learning.
The Support Teachers and Students Deserve
We know that instructional materials are not the silver bullet. But we also know that materials can make a difference in what and how students learn. Teachers who will be inspiring the next generation of science leaders deserve the support of great content that provides exciting, intentional opportunities for kids to explore the natural and man-made world and develop a deep understanding of how it works.
I believe that only through working together can we ensure all students have access to science education that will prepare them to be citizens who can make informed decisions and leaders who can work together to discover and develop solutions to our most urgent challenges.
National Geographic! Geo-Inquiry Experience! Paid! Check it out...
In 2019, the National Geographic Society will be hosting a Summer Institute for middle school teachers from across North America. The National Geographic 2019 Summer Institute will be held Monday, July 15 - Saturday, July 20, 2019 at the Jackson Campus of the Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming. During the institute, National Geographic will train selected educators to be facilitators of in-person outreach and professional development for National Geographic Educator Certification and the Geo-Inquiry Process. Throughout the week educators will spend time reviewing adult learning principles, learning more about National Geographic Society’s educational values, and becoming expert facilitators.
National Geographic will cover the cost of all food, accommodations, and transportation for educators teachers during the institute. Participation in the summer institute is the first step in a partnership with the National Geographic Society. For the commitment to National Geographic and this initiative, each educator will receive a $600.00 stipend paid in installments over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year. Prior to applying for this opportunity, please review this document to understand the expectations associated with participation. To be considered for final selection, please complete this application form by January 28, 2019. If you have any questions regarding the National Geographic 2019 Summer Institute please reach out to the Educator Network at email@example.com.
Science Teacher shares her expertise in DESIGN CHALLENGES:
How is your NE College & Career Ready Science Standards implementation going?
University of Nebraska State Museum & V I R T U A L Field Trips
Visit "Archie" and company from your classroom! No need to schedule transportation, pack a lunch or even leave your school when you visit us on a Virtual Field Trip. Our educators and scientists interact with your students on a variety of science and natural history topics through our live, interactive videoconferencing programs. Classes are designed to fit within your schedule, curriculum needs and are aligned with science standards. Many of our programs include a physical kit with hands-on materials to enhance your visit.
Thanks to Brandon Timm at Aurora Public Schools for sharing this information. If you have questions, he has experienced such a field trip and utilized a kit. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.