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Instructional Planning and Teaching in Science

Instructional Planning

Next Generation Science Storylines - A team of science educators from Northwestern University in partnership with K-12 teachers has developed sample elementary, middle school and high school storylines. 

Next Generation Science Storylines has developed a Storyline Design Toolkit which includes instructional routines for developing and implementing units of instruction that are grounded in phenomenon-based instruction.

Ambitious Science Teaching was developed by the University of Washington to provide tools and resources that support rigorous science instruction at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. This site provides classroom video examples and educator-developed lessons. There are also tools for planning and scaffolding instruction.

Appendix L of the NGSS provides grade-specific connections of the science standards to the mathematics standards.

Appendix M of the NGSS provides grade-specific connections of the science standards to literacy standards for science and technical subjects.

Five Tools and Processes for Translating the NGSS into Instruction and Assessment provide tools, templates, facilitator guides and videos  tools which include fully developed facilitator guides and templates led teams through the process of unpacking the standards, determining evidence of learning, and designing instructional units and assessments. These materials were  developed by educators at the American Museum of Natural History and use the 5E learning cycle.

The NGSS example bundles provide grade-level examples K-5 and grade-band examples 6-12 of coherent instructional units. These examples are provided as a starting point for discussion. Bundling involves grouping elements or concepts from multiple PEs in lessons, units, and/or assessments that students can develop and use together to build toward proficiency on a set of PEs in a coherent manner.

All Standards for All Students
NSTA summary of  best practices meeting the needs of all learners in science.

Engaging Teachers with Equity in Science Instruction provides a “playlist” or series of teaching briefs and tools teachers can use individually or in PLCs to discuss issues of equity and social justice in science education.

Making Science Instruction Compelling for All Students: Using Cultural Formative Assessment to Build on Learner Interest and Experience provides professional learning focused on learner interest and identify. 

Appendix D of the NGSS provides seven case studies of diverse student populations and provide example strategies classroom teachers can use to ensure the standards are accessible to all students.

Locating and Evaluating Lessons/Resources

Scientific Phenomena
Using Phenomena in NGSS-Designed Instruction includes an interview with Brian Reiser about using Phenomenon in instruction, a written resource describing how and why to use Phenomena and another resource describing the Qualities of Good Anchoring Phenomena

Phenomena for NGSS  provides a searchable bank of phenomena that have the potential to be instructionally productive. The site also provides reasons for using phenomenon in science instruction.

Georgia Science Teachers’ Association Phenomenon Bank provides a searchable bank of phenomenon along with potential essential questions and instructional uses for each phenomenon.

#Project Phenomena was developed by the San Diego County Office of Education and includes criteria for selecting phenomena and a phenomenon database.

Lesson Ideas
Achieve has a panel of experts who are using the EQuIP - science rubric to analyze a variety of instructional units. Items identified as Examples of Quality Lessons are included on the NGSS website.

Classroom Resources at the NGSS Hub at NSTA provides detailed classroom resources with over 100 titles in the four disciplinary domains (life, earth, physical, engineering).

Teachers Try Science provides lessons that have been reviewed through the EQuIP rubric. These are individual lessons; not complete units. The site also identifies instructional best practices and has associated videos.

Betterlesson provides a variety of teacher-developed lessons from Kindergarten through high school. The lessons are organized by standard. The lessons have not been reviewed with a formal tool such as the NGSS lesson screener or EQuIP but could be used as a starting point.

CK-12 provides a set of online science textbooks as open educational resources. These are not aligned to NGSS but could be modified. 

Evaluating Lessons/Resources
While there are many resources that claim to be “NGSS aligned,” it is important for individual teachers and districts to be critical consumers and to use appropriate tools to help them determine alignment. This location provides tools for evaluating lessons and unit plans. Tools for evaluating full curricula can be found in the implementing standards  section of the educator resources.

NGSS EQuIP Rubric for Lessons and Units: Science - Scroll down the page to find the following resources:

  • Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric serves as a thorough evaluation of instructional materials and unit design with respect to the NGSS. This tool analyzes three different categories of alignment: three dimensional learning, instructional support, and monitoring of student progress. Additional information, including a video series and facilitation guide for how to use the EQuIP Rubric-Science, can be found on the NGSS website.
  • NGSS Lesson Screener was developed by Achieve, and is designed to be a quick look at a lesson to ensure it’s alignment to the criteria of the Next Generation Science Standards.  The Lesson screener was not designed as a thorough curriculum vetting tool, but as a quicker look to determine if full vetting is warranted.

Teaching and Reflecting

Teaching and Reflecting
STEM Teaching Tools include short courses and instructional tools developed by the University of Washington in collaboration with researchers and educators from across the county. Educators can search for tools focused on various instructional and assessment strategies.

PRISM – practices resource in Science and Math provides descriptions, videos, and strategies associated with each science and engineering practice and each mathematical practice. The faculty, staff and students from the University of California, Davis and teachers from Dixon Unified School District and Davis Joint Unified School District who developed this site also provide a framework and shifts that incorporate both the SEPs and mathematical practices.

Bozeman Science Videos includes information on and practical strategies for incorporating the practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in classroom instruction.

Successful STEM Education is a National Science Foundation initiative focused on providing information, events (with links to session materials), and resources to support effective STEM teaching and learning

Understanding the nature of science includes a variety of resources developed by the University of California Museum of Paleontology through an NSF grant to support understanding how science works.

Instructional Leadership for Science Practices has instructional tools (rubrics and instructional strategies) to promote and measure student engagement in the science and engineering practices. It also has supervision tools and case studies for instructional leaders to use for coaching and mentoring.

Instructional Tools
SEP Tasks formats were developed by the University of Colorado Boulder to provide a progressive set of tasks for each science and engineering practice that can be used to develop tasks around a common scenario, phenomenon, or engineering design challenge.

Crosscutting Concepts Prompts were developed at the University of Colorado Boulder. These prompts should be used as part of a multi-component extended task. The prompts can be open-ended and can also be turned into multiple-choice questions.

CCC Flip Charts provide sample questions that teachers can use to help incorporate cross-cutting concepts throughout instruction. There is a set for K-5 and a set for 6-12. There is also a short PPT with an activity for teachers.

Crosscut Symbols A collection of questions to help students view phenomena through the lens of the crosscutting concepts.

Modeling in K-2 Science are resources and strategies developed by the Teaching Channel in partnership with Ambitious Science Teaching. These focus on engaging K-2 students in modeling.

STEM Teaching Tool Playlist on promoting argument-based science learning

STEM Teaching Tool Playlist on Supporting Productive Student Talk

Talk Science is a primer describing the research behind and strategies that support student engagement in productive classroom discourse

LinkEngineering is a resource website that provides examples of engineering in educational settings. It also provides background information on engineering and engineering design.

Integrating Literacy Strategies into Science Instruction are videos and related resources showing classroom examples of incorporating paraphrasing, summarizing, using interactive read-alouds and more.

Research and Reports
Relating Research to Practice strives to provide access to and awareness of the developing body of knowledge relevant to STEM educators in both formal and informal settings. Browse hundreds of short research briefs, each one summarizing a current peer-reviewed research article.

Scientific Inquiry and the Scientific Method is a report from American Institutes of Research & Midwest Comprehensive Center describes the evolution of thinking and research about scientific inquiry, the scientific method, and the practices of scientists and engineers.

Taking Science to School provides a detailed examination of how we know what we know about children's learning of science and about the role of research and evidence.

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting research to work in K-8 Science classrooms is a foundational synthesis of research into teaching and learning science in kindergarten through eighth grade. Based on a National Research Council report, this book summarizes a body of findings from the learning sciences and builds detailed cases of science educators at work to make the implications of research clear, accessible, and stimulating for a broad range of science educators.

The National Center for Science Education website NCSEteach provides resources and information about teaching science.