Next Generation Science Standards FrameworkSummary Report (Click that name to go get the pdf for yourself. On that website look on the left under the picture of the book for the "download now" button)
Reading the Framework Summary helped me better visualize the structure of the new science standards. While I was very interested to read why there are new standards, I was most interested to learn what these new standards will be like and how they are structured. As I read about each dimension, I got more and more excited about the direction science education is moving in! These are going to require a lot of training for established teachers and our students are going to be surprised (and happy, I think) with the new direction science lessons should take if we begin using these standards in a way that is aligned with the vision described in this report.
This Summary Report described the three major dimensions of the new standards as being:
1. Scientific and Engineering Practices: They certainly seem to encourage using inquiry learning and the 5E format for lesson plans. If you are not familiar with 5E - it stands for lesson plans with this structure: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. If you want, maybe I can post some of my 5E science lessons. Comment below if interested in seeing an example or 2 or 3 or 7.
2. Crosscutting concepts: I am happy to see that there will be more emphasis on how different areas of science are connecting by common concepts. If students learn about those concepts and how they function they will be so much better prepared to learn any new science content.
3. Core Ideas in four disciplinary areas: This includes the three we are all accustomed to teaching: Life, Earth/ Space, and Physical Science. The new area, which has been a huge topic recently, is Engineering/Technology/ Science Applications. I am excited to develop ideas and lessons for getting my young students to be little engineers! If you can build something – I think you have a much deeper understanding of it than just observing and reading about it! It also looks to me like the standards will be labeled in such a way that teachers can easily access and understand the vertical alignment of core ideas across grade levels, which is a fantastic asset when you need to differentiate a lesson by remediating some students and challenging other students!