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  • Writer's pictureSherry St. Clair

Integrating the Next Generation Science Standards: Guiding Questions for Instructional Leaders

Many schools are now trying to integrate the Next-Generation Science Standards into their classroom practices.  A part of the standards are the eight Science and Engineering Practices that depict the actions taken by scientists as they investigate the world and by engineers when building systems. They are designed for implementation in K-12 classrooms. As I conduct classroom visits for schools and help instructional leaders consider how to fully implement the Practices, the questions below are some that I consider for each of the eight Practices. As you read through these, please keep in mind these are actions students should be taking, not actions taken by the teachers.

1) Asking Questions Can students ask questions that are scientific?  Do they ask these questions of other students?  Can the questions they ask be answered through evidence they gather while conducting an investigation and/or experiment? Can other students answer the questions asked by peers utilizing evidence?

2) Developing and Using Models

Is there evidence that students create models that explain the natural world?  Can they create models that predict what may happen based on information?  Can they evaluate other models and talk about the limitations of those models?

3) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Is there evidence that students can design investigations and experiments on their own?  Can they also effectively conduct these investigations/experiments?  Can students effectively decide all aspects of the investigation without the input of the instructor?

4) Analyzing and Interpreting Data 

Can students effectively analyze data?  Can they make decisions about how to analyze that data?  Are they able to make an appropriate representation of the data?  Is there evidence they know how the data may impact the subject they are studying?

5) Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking 

Can students use mathematical skills or concepts appropriately when answering scientific questions?

6) Constructing Explanations 

Are students able to construct proficient explanations that focus on how and why phenomenon occurs?  Do they include supporting evidence in their explanations?

7) Engaging in Argument from Evidence 

Do students engage in meaningful student-driven argumentation?  In their discussions, do they use evidence for their claims?  Can they produce effective counterarguments?  Can they effectively support the ideas of others with the same claims?

8) Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information 

Can students proficiently read and analyze text that contains scientific information?  Are students able to compare and contrast information from various texts or media formats?

If instructional leaders find their students are not demonstrating these Practices, there are small steps schools can take to move towards the full implementation.  Please contact me for information and/or if you need further assistance. 


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