First time in a decade state reviews new grades K-8 materials to teach latest standards
Curriculum experts including Smithsonian re-envisioned science class and created phenomena-based science programs for California’s Next Generation Science Standards
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California science classes are about to get a surge of new resources to support an energetic, student-driven, hands-on, and phenomena-based vision of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). The state is reviewing new science instructional materials for the first time in 12 years to help science teachers succeed in teaching students the latest standards. The Calif. Department of Education (CDE) accepted submissions for science material adoption for grades K-8 this spring and will make recommendations for materials adoptions this month for formal adoption in the fall. Teachers have been working hard to adapt to positive, but major changes in science education as the state took a leadership role two years ago when it created its own new “Science Framework.” Many teachers have older books that were not written to the standards and therefore don’t cover the new content. Schools need new high-quality materials to address new forward-thinking standards, requiring phenomena-driven three-dimensional learning, instruction across the curriculum, and learning that is relevant to students’ lives.
Almost 20 expert science publishers, including leading school science supplier Carolina Biological Supply Company working together with expert curriculum developers from the Smithsonian Science Education Center, welcomed the challenge. They submitted new print and digital science materials written specifically to align with the state’s new standards. Both Carolina’s and Smithsonian’s three-dimensional science investigation-based programs turn students into scientists during short 30-minute (grades K-5) or 45-minute (grades 6-8) investigations that fit into the school day. Phenomena-rich investigations and meaningful engineering design challenges put the experience in students’ hands. Carolina’s Building Blocks of Science™ |3D (K-5) and Smithsonian Science and Technology Concepts Middle School™ (STCMS™) make science engaging as students work in groups to drive their own investigations of science phenomena and learn through hands-on physical experiments and digital simulations.
Adoption recommendations will be made in July and finalized in Nov. by a committee appointed by the CDE. Potential new programs are posted on its website.
“Elementary teachers have been especially challenged for the first time to fit science instruction into their day,” said Kristen Mayfield-Evanishyn, Marketing Manager at Carolina. “Investigations that can be completed in 30 minutes give teachers an immediate and manageable take away. Carolina’s Building Blocks of Science|3D was designed to meet the full intent of California’s Science Framework and reflect its vision and philosophy. We digested the information and worked the criteria into our program. We were careful to meet every facet of CA NGSS.”
The Calif. State Board of Education adopted its Science Framework for Calif. Public Schools in Nov. 2016 to address NGSS, but implementation at schools has taken time. With the review process for science instructional materials to help teachers under way, implementation is a step closer.
“NGSS asks students to focus on the process of learning, not just the product,” said Dr. Brian Mandell, Division Director of Curriculum and Communications at the Smithsonian. “NGSS asks students to plan and conduct their own investigations, look for patterns in data they collect, and arrive at an understanding of the content based on their own evidence the way a real scientist or engineer would. NGSS represents an extraordinary challenge for curriculum providers and I believe STCMS, and the research grounding its development, meet that challenge head on.”
With instruction that goes beyond meeting the CA NGSS, Smithsonian developed STCMS and partnered with Carolina to publish and distribute it to schools. STCMS steps up to the challenge of meeting the full intent of the standards: 1. Three-dimensional learning; 2. Coherent learning progressions; 3. Students making sense of phenomena and designing solutions; 4. Science content aligned with English language arts and mathematics; and 5. All standards, all students. The program is in use at schools nationwide and teachers at schools such as Westmore Oaks K-8 Elementary School in West Sacramento, Calif., reported positive impact on their classes.
“I was observed by my principal last month for a formal evaluation,” said Jennifer Garcia, a teacher at Westmore Oaks K–8 School. “I had her come into the 7th grade class. The curriculum I am using with my students, Smithsonian Science and Technology Concepts Middle School, really helped me do a lesson that addressed all areas of good teaching, all aligned to NGSS and Common Core State Standards! I had an amazing lesson 2.1 and amazing observation.”
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