So, today I asked my coworkers to break into subject matter teams. I gave them a set of every single performance expectation there is for high school science...all cut out into individual strips. They were even laminated! Ooooo....aaaaaa. I tasked them to assemble what the perfect class would look like for their subject matter. For example, the biology teachers created a course with all performance expectations they felt could be taught in an NGSS Biology course. I then gave them sticky notes and told them that once they had all their performance expectations, to attempt to group them according to concepts that would be taught during a school year.
I was a bit nervous because I feared that teachers would merely take the performance expectations that state their topic: Life Science PEs would go to Biology only. But instead, there were awesome discussions and these teachers created integrated courses! Go figure! The chemistry teachers pulled a healthy amount of Life Science PEs, finding that biochemistry could run as a theme within their NGSS Chem class. Physics identified quite a few Earth and Space Science PEs to generate a space unit when discussing gravitational forces. (Thank you Kepler, Newton and Einstein...you guys rock.) Biology identified many of the Earth and Space Science PEs to drop into a more indepth Ecology/Environmental unit.
There was an overall nice buzz in the room as teachers began to see the potential of new courses evolving. And there was an agreement that courses could focus on more depth as opposed to breadth. Not gonna lie...it was really incredible to see how everyone was working together to do this simple activity!
I would strongly encourage all science departments to partake in an activity like this. It was well worth the time (which ended only being about 45 minutes).
One thing is for sure....there will be no textbook that can adequately cover NGSS. The new style science class will end up being a unique experience that simply cannot be found in the pages of a book. I guess that is what NGSS meant by having students DO science.