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The Science Materials Team & NGSS

The Science Materials Team & NGSS

Funny student doing science experiments

Just this week I wandered into the Mt. Baker Room at the Northwest Educational Service District to find 18 kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers using something called the EQuiP rubric (see my blog post from April 2016 EQuiP) and scrutinizing science curriculum. Who were they? What did they want to know? What was this rubric going to tell them?

When Achieve, Inc. published the Next Generation Science Standards (see my blog post from May 2017 NGSS), it was important to help educators understand what these new standards might look like in science classrooms across our country. What would students be doing to demonstrate their learning? What would teachers have to be doing to stimulate their students’ thinking and problem-solving abilities? EQuiP, short for Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products, is a powerful rubric that gives curriculum directors and teachers a tool to ask the right questions about the suitability of the science materials in their classrooms.

EQuiP first asks about a scientific phenomenon or engineering problem students will be asked to consider as they dig into a topic like energy or landforms, for example. Each portion of the science curricula should support student learning surrounding that phenomenon or lead to student understanding of the engineering question.

Back to the NWESD classroom and the NWESD Science Materials Center (SMC) Materials Team. This select group of teachers representing each grade level, kindergarten through fifth-grade, had two or more sample curricula to look at through the lens of EQuiP. Some of the curricula were from well-known publishers who have rewritten their materials to support NGSS. Additionally, in classrooms across the country, teacher groups have been collaborating to create their own lessons that support NGSS, so some of the curricula actually came from NWESD school districts. Some came from other school districts in our state. And then some came from new publishers who have just jumped into writing science curricula since NGSS came into use.

It turns out that day last week was just a start. The SMC Materials Team still has much work to do. The kindergarten and second-grade teachers were excited to find curriculum worth scrutiny by other grade level groups. Next month the Materials Team will reconvene and dig deeper into curricula clearly supporting NGSS.

Check out the NWESD’s SMC Process Supporting NGSS section.

I will check in with them again! Stay tuned, it sounds like the best is yet to come!

-Ed