NM Teachers Unite to Spread New Science Methods

A new science teaching standard implemented in New Mexico last year is intended to help students learn in a more hands-on way, and a group of Grant County educators is leading the way in helping teachers incorporate this new standard into classrooms here.

The Grant County Making Sense of Science Leadership Team has hosted three courses that have taught teachers about teaching the new state standards that were adopted two years ago, and intends to put on more courses in the future. 

The Leadership Team is a group of eight teachers from Grant County who received a grant from Freeport-McMoRan to put on courses in the area, said Lisa Garcia, a member of the Leadership Team. 

“Our area [is] an underserved area as far as science professional development,” she said. 

The group received training from Making Sense of Science, a division of California-based organization WestEd, so they could serve as “facilitators” here in Grant County.

Click here to read the full story published in the Silver City Daily Press (June  26, 2019)

Inside One California District’s Approach to Redesign STEM Education

School is out for summer. But in Tracy, Calif., teachers have been hard at work.

Inside the staff development training room at the Tracy Unified School District, a group of about 25 teachers and curriculum specialists gathered this summer to overhaul the district’s approach to teaching science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The plan is to go from an approach in which most subjects are taught separately to one in which lessons integrate state standards in math, science, computer science and English language arts.

“We just can’t be siloed anymore,” said Deborah Coker, a teacher on special assignment at Tracy Unified. “There’s not enough time in the day to teach everything separately.”

Across California, schools and districts are working to implement the Next Generation Science Standards that were adopted in 2013 and to prepare students for the new California Science Test, which was administered for the first time this year. Tracy Unified’s new STEM curriculum is rooted in the new science standards, which emphasize hands-on projects and integrate several scientific disciplines. Each STEM unit will feature science and engineering projects that involve elements such as writing, public presentations, math and computer science.

Click here to read the full story published by Ed Source (June 28, 2019)

Tribune Editorial: Science Is What It Is. Until It Isn’t

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Because some people are more than uncomfortable with the current established views of such things as evolution and climate change, they cling to the belief that those scientific facts aren’t any more real or settled than, say, the old view that the Earth was the center of the universe or that disease was caused by demons.

Galileo proved that Aristotle was wrong, this school of thinking goes, so why shouldn’t we assume that, say, Darwin was wrong, too?

That was the argument that the Utah State School Board wrangled over, for eight months of review by a committee of experts and, on Thursday, five hours of patiently suffering through a great deal of anti-intellectual dogma before voting to approve a new set of science standards for students in the state’s public elementary and high schools.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune (June 10, 2019)

More Fun to Figure It Out

Who knew that the table game Mouse Trap has seven subsystems? After a class period of exploration, sixth-graders in Greg Busse’s class not only knew about subsystems, they could identify where each started and ended in the game.

Early in the semester, students were asked to use the game, where the object is to successfully move a mouse-shaped piece along a Rube Goldberg-type path, to learn about subsystems and identify “contact points” where the mouse needs to find energy to move from one phase to the next.

Students divided into groups to identify boundaries of one of the seven sections of the path. Each section — or subsystem — was identified as the point at which the mouse found energy to connect it with the next section of the path.

 

The hands-on exercise readied them for upcoming science classes, during which they were to be divided into groups and presented with a situation. Students then were expected to identify problems and find questions needing answers, apply scientific techniques to find the answers and share the results.

Busse was utilizing for the first time this school year the MiSTAR curriculumdesigned for sixth through eighth-graders. “The idea is to have students come up with the questions and then the answers by themselves,” he said.

Busse said he worked with the Kent ISD science team to bring the relatively new standards into more classrooms. MiSTAR is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, a set of teaching guidelines outlined in “A Framework for K-12 Science Education.”

 

Click here to read the full story in School News Network (June 11, 2019)

Alaska Schools Now Have More Guidance on How to Teach Science in the Classroom

The Alaska State Board of Education unanimously approved new science standards on Friday, which are much more detailed about topics like climate change and evolution than the ones previously recommended for schools.

It’s been more than a decade since the state reviewed how science is taught in the classroom.

The new standards are based on a model called Next Generation Science Standards, which encourages more hands-on learning. Dozens of other states have already adopted a framework of these new standards.

All of the public comments at the meeting were in support of adopting the change.

However, this doesn’t mean all students across the state will get the same science lessons. It’s still largely up to the school districts to decide how to incorporate the new material.

Click here to listen to the story on Alaska Public Radio (June 10, 2019)

The Biology Chronicles

Step into Godwin Heights (Michigan) High School biology teacher Cory Klocko’s classroom on any given day, and you’re bound to see few eyes on the teacher. Rather, you’ll see students discussing, hypothesizing and testing their theories to answer questions such as “Why is Addie sick?”

Addie is a character in one of three narratives provided by the Next Generation Science Standards storyline curriculum embraced this year by Klocko and his colleague, biology teacher Derek Stoneman.

Memorizing facts is one thing, but understanding concepts is quite another. Thanks to the three storylines, which cover an entire year of biology curriculum, students are ditching the flashcards and homework and finding that biology is pretty cool when it revolves around telling stories.

As one storyline goes, Addie gets sicker over time and antibiotics aren’t helping. Students have to figure out why, and the solution requires learning about bacterial evolution, growing bacteria on an agar plate and understanding antibiotic resistance, among other things.

Less Memorization, More Assimilation

The new curriculum is unlike anything Madison Hall, a 10th-grader in Klocko’s Biology class, has ever seen.

“The teachers let the students find the answers as a class without telling them the answer directly, and help steer the students in the right direction to understand the material,” Madison explained.

Click here to read the full story featured on School News Network (Kent, Michgian, Independent School District) May 31, 2019

Proposed Utah Science Standards Head to State School Board

A State School Board committee on Friday approved new science standards for Utah public school students in grades K through five and nine through 12, but not before some pushback on the teaching of evolution and climate change.

Except for some slight tweaks, the proposed standards were approved by the Standards and Assessment Committee and will be considered for adoption at an upcoming State School Board meeting.

The effort to update the standards started in late 2017, said Ricky Scott, science education specialist for the Utah State Board of Education. Friday’s committee hearing came after a lengthy process to update and write new standards and a 90-day review period, which included six public hearings.

 

Dawn Monson, president of the Utah Science Teachers Association, urged the committee’s approval of the new standards.

“Students need the opportunity to experience and question. This is what the SEED standards (Utah Science with Engineering Education standards) are. It’s not about content but it’s about pedagogy. The students need an opportunity to be the scientist,” Monson said.

But others pushed back against the new standards.

 

 

Click here to read the full story in the Deseret News (May 24, 2019)

Report: States Face Continued Big Lift with Science Standards

New science standards have been adopted in some form by forty-three states (the most recent being Maine), based on some combination of the Next Generation Science Standards and the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education. But that’s hardly the final word for instilling more STEM into the classroom. A new report from Achieve, a survey among state education agencies on science policy, has found that there needs to be more work done by states to emphasize required instructional time for science in early grades, establish a course sequence for science topics in middle school and match graduation requirements with state-defined science learning for high school.

Click here to read the story in T.H.E. Journal (May 22, 2019)

Click here to read the Achieve report (May 13, 2019)

Maine Adopts the NGSS

Congratulations to Maine. Governor Janet Mills signed LD 283, which contained the revised science and engineering standards in the Maine Learning Results. The revised standards are an adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards. The signed bill is currently going through the Maine Administrative Procedure Act to officially become law through the Secretary of State’s office. It is anticipated that the law will take effect near the end of this school year.

Click here to read the press release.

Flint River Watershed Coalition Receives $74,000 Grant

FLINT, MI– A $74,000 grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has been awarded to Flint for the development and implementation of water quality monitoring program for the city’s river.

The program, Flint River Green Bridges, is an expansion of the city’s existing Flint River Green program that’s implemented in 22 local school districts and reaches 1,200 students each year.

The expansion will engage hundreds of local students and bridge careers, curriculum, classrooms and communities, according to a press release. This is the coalition’s first federal grant.

“This will be a great opportunity to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) while giving students a chance to think critically about water quality issues,” James Hall, an 8th grade science teacher at Hamady Middle School stated in a press release.

The 18-month project is a partnership with the University of Michigan-Flint’s Discovering PLACE, the Flint hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, which will enhance teacher training and support the implementation of outdoor field research.

“This new curriculum will allow teachers to not only meet the NGSS and state standards, but will also allow classrooms to actively engage in place-based learning through activities and action projects,” Tammy Wylie, a 7th grade science teacher at Hamady Middle School stated.

Click here to read the full story in MLive (May 1, 2019)