• Two hikers looking at a terrain map

Curating Curriculum

How can I find the NGSS lesson plans I need to use?

By Jennifer Childress Self | July 10, 2024

Although the school year just ended, it feels like the summer is already flying by. Some teachers are already hard at work planning for the next semester. Many of these teachers are turning to the internet, using sites like Teachers […]

  • Teacher making observations on the ground

Discoveries Nearby

Integrating Place-Based, Data-Rich Instruction in Science Education

By Sara Salisbury, Leticia Perez, and Karen Lionberger | June 5, 2024

“I was driving in the car this morning when a construction project slowed down the flow of traffic. Sitting and waiting, I looked out my window and saw what looked like a bunch of weeds…but they were […]

  • Three teachers talking in a school

Is Once a Year Enough?

Lessons Learned from Program Evaluation and Classroom Formative Assessment

‘Tis the season to talk about testing. Or is it? Must our focus on assessment be only at the end of the year?

As educators and researchers at WestEd, we recognize the value of continuous evaluation throughout the lifecycle of projects, […]

Missed an Episode? No Problem!

How might instructional recap strategies support student learning?

My friends and I have a tradition of getting together every Wednesday night to watch one of our favorite shows. Before we start a new episode, we catch up by watching the recap of the previous episodes. With a lot happening since last Wednesday, […]

  • Photo of students in a classroom

Implementing new standards takes a long time!

The Power of Perseverance

Around this time of the year, it’s common for people to take a step back from the goals they set for themselves in early January. Perhaps they wanted to eat a healthier diet. Perhaps they wanted to learn to play a musical instrument. Early in January, it […]

Seeing is Believing: Building a Shared Vision of Quality Science Instruction

What does it really take to build a shared understanding of the shift in teaching and learning expected in today’s science classrooms?

In the years following the adoption of new science standards, states and districts must begin to navigate the complexities of transitioning to new learning goals — including updating instructional materials, […]

  • Young girl recording data from a test of a machine

Gaining a Foothold for Science in the Early Elementary Grades

Can curriculum materials play a role?

If the status of science instruction in the elementary grades could be described in one word, it would most likely be: undervalued.

For more than twenty years, science has been undervalued across the K–5 grades with the amount and quality of science instruction varying widely. For example, the findings of the National […]

  • Two teachers examining student work

Student Work is Gold, Part II

How can student work be used to strengthen assessments?

In our first blog post, Student Work is Gold, we wrote about how student work from assessments can become the key to unlocking instruction that is truly responsive to students and advances their three-dimensional learning. But student work can also be used to make the assessment itself […]

  • Two people piloting a helicopter

Piloting Toward Expertise in Science Education

How can we develop expertise in science education leadership teams?

You’ve likely seen or heard a helicopter flying overhead. Perhaps you have even flown in one. If I asked you to draw a diagram of how a helicopter works, what parts would you include and how would these parts interact with each other?

Most people reading this blog are probably considered […]

  • Girl and mom baking cookies.

Customizing Cookie Recipes

How can we help teachers modify instructional materials?

When I was teaching in a school for refugees, we didn’t have a lot of resources, but we did have instructional materials[1] that covered the curriculum. It saved a lot of time to not have to create everything from scratch. However, the materials weren’t written with my students […]

  • Students looking at data

Opening the Door to Data Science in STEM Classrooms

How can we help all students navigate our data-rich world?

It’s a strong possibility that by the time this blog comes across your screen today, you will have received multiple alerts based on a collection of personal data about you. Maybe it was your watch or phone telling you how much screen time you had […]

  • Students working with a teacher

Motivation Matters

Five Design Principles for Supporting Student Motivation and Engagement in Science Classrooms

This is an exciting time for science education. Spurred in part by the release of A Framework for K12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards, science educators are changing their classrooms to enact instructional experiences that will help all their students to […]

  • Teacher and students

Cultivating Cultural Competence

What does it take to build affirming science learning environments? What can be gained?

Can you think of a time when you felt like an outsider or an “other” in the room? We have. As one of only a few girls in an AP Physics class, one of us remembers being told that girls don’t […]

  • Young School Girl with mask

Getting Back to Business

How do we equitably accelerate learning in science?

After a long and distressing absence, students have been back in classrooms this fall across the country. We’re not back to business as usual, though. Schools and districts have been trying to figure out how to address students’ “unfinished learning” — the learning targets for a grade or […]

  • Group of teachers planning with sticky notes

How Can We Move the Needle for NGSS Implementation?

Influences of a Large-Scale, Intensive Initiative on Teachers’ NGSS Implementation

Nearly a decade since the release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), teachers are still struggling to implement key NGSS instructional shifts: focusing on phenomena and problems, integrating engineering practices and content, and incorporating the science and engineering practices (SEPs) and crosscutting concepts (CCCs). […]

  • Two girls designing

The Power of a Parking Lot

How Can Engineering Design Make Math More Accessible to All Students?

The research literature is clear: Integrating mathematics and science can lead to students’ increased enthusiasm, increased achievement in both disciplines, and an increase in relevant and authentic experiences. As part of a recent project to better understand the impact of disciplinary integration and how to support it, […]

  • Family on a Mountain

Supporting Student Learning in the “Forgotten” Dimension

Do we have to assess CCCs?

Since the release of A Framework for K12 Science Education a decade ago, Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) have become part of the national conversation about science education. Almost all states now include CCCs in their state science standards, and more instructional materials include CCCs every day. There is a difference, though, between […]

  • Girl takes a water sample

Brokering Knowledge in Diverse Classrooms

How can teachers attune to students’ cultures?

I recently returned from a long-awaited trip to Guam. As a member of the NSF INCLUDES SEAS Islands Alliance research team, I was there to study how Indigenous/diasporic islanders, who have historically been underrepresented in the geosciences, maintain identity and a sense of belonging to their heritage culture, while developing STEM […]

  • Middle School Girls with test tubes

Two Things that Improve Student Outcomes: Quality Materials and Systemic Support for their Implementation

It is hard to believe that we are nearly a decade out from the release of A Framework for K–12 Science Education (Framework) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Also noteworthy is that we are now at a point where the vision for science education put forth by the Framework has become part of education policy in many corners of the […]

  • Teachers discussing in a group

Student Work is Gold

Forming Professional Learning Communities Around Student Work Analysis

“That mind shift has to change. It’s not just: I gave a test, here’s a score, it goes in the gradebook…now we have to do something else so the student does accomplish the standard.” – Secondary Resource Teacher

When we […]

  • close up of magnifying glass and writing in book

Way more than an answer key

What does effective teacher guidance look like in science instructional materials designed for today’s science standards?

In my first year as a teacher, I relied heavily on an inquiry-based textbook as I enthusiastically dove into writing units and lessons for my high school biology course. As I mapped out my plan, I […]

  • A girl and mom cooking

Am I Following this Recipe Correctly?

How can we use feedback to support student learning?

I recently came across a recipe for “fesenjoon“, a Persian staple at my family’s Thanksgiving table. As I attempted to recreate this stew that I’d eaten many times, I found myself repeatedly speed-dialing my mom: “Is this the […]

  • girl using a drill

CCCs as Power Tools: Are we equitably equipping students to use them?

Do all students have to know they’re using a CCC?

Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) were included in the Framework for K-12 Science Education as one of the three dimensions of science even though the CCCs hadn’t been explicit in science and engineering education before. They were always implicitly there, of course, underlying the content students learned, but because they were rarely included in learning goals, only a relatively small […]

  • girl looking through fishbowl

Studying Nemo: Real-World Phenomena and Problems?

How realistic should phenomena and problems be?

The whole idea of this blog was inspired by questions we get from the field. One question we’ve been hearing a lot lately is “do phenomena have to be real?”

The importance of phenomena and problems is their role in engaging students and driving […]

  • young boy behind a birthday cake with sprinkles

Are SEPs in the Science Instruction Cake Batter or Just Sprinkled on Top?

What would it look like for students to progressively develop science and engineering practices?

Over the last decade, we’ve all shifted our focus from inquiry skills to science and engineering practices (SEPs). We’ve seen the work of engaging students in SEPs explode in a good way. It’s becoming normal for students to use models to describe what’s going on or to use claim-evidence-reasoning structures to list evidence and make […]

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