Instructional shifts driven by Next Generation Science Standards require science lessons rooted in real world contexts and clearly articulated K-12 learning progressions. Learning targets are based not only on science content but equally on science and engineering practices, scientific literacy, and crosscutting concepts that thematically connect various science disciplines. Students are able to describe the relevance of each unit of study to real world issues that directly impact their lives and can document their skill progression in science over time.
Classrooms are vibrant environments where students actively direct research and lab investigations, participate equitably in evidence-based argumentation, and are encouraged to value the process of scientific discovery as much as the outcome. Over time, students are increasingly given opportunities to drive classroom discussion and to choose or define learning opportunities that best match their interests.
Curriculum & Pedagogy
The K-12 science curriculum is vertically articulated and follows the learning progressions recommended in the Next Generation Science Standards. For each lesson and unit of study, teachers plan for an appropriate balance of instructional strategies to support student engagement and understanding. Appropriate strategies include direct instruction, teacher-direct demonstrations, small and large group discussion, student-directed lab investigations, and a range of constructivist approaches including project- and problem-based learning. Purchased and teacher-developed instructional materials and activities challenge students’ thinking and encourage a gradual shift of responsibility toward the student over time.
The performance expectations in the Next Generation Science Standards require students to demonstrate an integrated understanding of science content, practices, and crosscutting concepts. Performance-based summative assessments are used in addition to formative and interim assessments measuring fluency with terminology, proficiency with lab equipment and procedures, scientific literacy, and scientific reasoning. Formative assessments are used to assess students’ prior knowledge, intellectual needs, and cultural experience so instruction can be refined accordingly.
Classroom Environment & Culture
The physical environment and cultural norms in the science classroom are critical to facilitating collaborative discourse and authentic scientific investigation. Student work is balanced appropriately between independent work and small and large group discussion. Students direct routines not only during labs but use a common approach to problem solving, scientific reasoning, and scientific discourse. Students and teachers share an understanding that the process of scientific discovery is of equal value to its outcomes.