Two years ago I got introduced to NGSS. At the time, I glanced over the material and thought to myself, "Yeh, I already do most of this." I do inquiry style labs, projects to drive instruction, a variety of assessments, application based learning, etc. But the more I studied NGSS and dissected the content, the more I realized that well, I do some of it, but I've got room for improvement.
I started tweaking my lessons, aligning them more toward 3D learning. I created a lesson plan template to ensure that I was adequately addressing NGSS. I discovered that most of my old lessons were fine, but required modifications, a bit more focus. I changed my powerpoints. Lectures, in my opinion, are still needed. I made sure that mine were more interactive, interwining crosscutting concepts and science/engineering practices. Instead of just giving students information, I would have them ask questions, answer questions, draw pictures, interpret data, derive equations, etc. I did have to go learn and appreciate the engineering method, which is something I had not known about before. And now have a method for incorporating engineering methodology (will share this in a later blog). I revamped my summative assessments, not going completely away from multiple choice, but starting to incorporate more FRQs (free response questions). My projects became more focused as I aligned what I wanted to see the kids do and know. But this is an ongoing process...to this day I still tweak/change.
When I hear teachers say, "I already do NGSS" I know for a fact that they really haven't spent enough focused time looking and truly understanding what NGSS is all about. I am a great teacher. I work very hard to deliver student-centered learning. Even I thought I was already doing NGSS. How wrong I was. And quite frankly, if we were already doing NGSS in our classrooms, our nation would be THE world leader in innovative science and our students would graduate with a application based appreciation of science and how it can be used. This is not the case.
To those teachers that claim they are already doing NGSS, fill out the NGSS designed EQuiP Rubric. I personally find the EQuiP Rubric to be too wordy, so I designed my own NGSS Lesson Plan Template. Pick your favorite lesson. Fill out this two paged template. If you are already doing NGSS then filling this out will be a piece of cake and you have the evidence to support to your administration that you currently "do" NGSS in your classroom.
TEACHERS....This overhaul of the science classroom isn't about what we used to do, it's about what we are going to do. My fellow science peeps, let's stop talking about our old lessons and let's start creating new and exciting ones!!!! We didn't fail our students, but we are going to make science eudcation better. As professionals, we are always reflecting on what we have done and how we can improve. Incorporation of NGSS is no different. It's about damn time that science became just as important and English and Math.