If I had known last year what I know now, my Kindergarten classroom would have been set up completely different. Last year, I did “science”. We carried out fun activities related to the theme of the week; planted seeds during our flower week, hatched caterpillars during our insect week, and made Mayflowers around Thanksgiving. I want you to start using the NGSS today!
These were all fun and exciting to the students but did it really teach them how sciencists work? Did it make any connections to their real lives? Yes my students were having fun but what was I really teaching them?
What’s the point of the NGSS? How do I start using the NGSS in my classroom today?
If you’re like me, you’ve asked yourself those two questions. It has been a journey for me this year to understand why I’m doing these things in a new way and I want to help you learn too!
As teachers, we want high school graduates to be able to problem solve, make sense of research (make sure it’s credible), and have a basic understanding of how the world works in regards to science. We have to start teaching students these skills in Kindergarten if we want them to be successful in science.
The NGSS are revolutionary. They are helping teachers make sense of the science that students need to do all those things we want for our students. The NGSS provide a framework to do this but it can be very overwhelming. I want you to think about the 3 core parts of the NGSS as pieces that make up a larger rope. Keep reading to find out what they are.
Breaking it down: the 3 core parts of the Next Generation Science Standards
1. Cross Cutting Concepts- the 7 concepts that are found throughout all areas of science. The CCC allow you to connect what seemed like unrelated sciences together.
- cause & effect
- scale, proportions, & quantity
- stability & change
- energy & matter
- structure & function
- systems & system models
For example: patterns can be observed in space, animal life cycles, and in elements of the periodic table. In the past, these topics have been taught seperately and students didn’t make connections between them. Now with NGSS, students can recognize that patterns are found everywhere.
2. Disciplinary Core Ideas- This is the “content” where what the students need to know is developed and explained. The content is broken down into grouping by grade level.
- primary (k-2)
- elementary (3-5)
- middle (6-8)
- high (9-12)
In Kindergarten, students will learn 3 main bundles of standards Pushes & Pulls, Living Things, and Patterns & Effects of Sunlight.
My resources focus on these skills to help all my Kinder teachers out! You can see my Research STEM resources here.
3. Science and Engineering Practices– the skills that scientists while they are researching and testing in the real world.
When creating the NGSS, the writers wanted to make sure that the standards mirrored real world applications, which formed these 8 practices.
- asking questions & defining problems
- developing & using models
- planning & carrying out investigations
- analyzing & interpreting data
- using math & computational thinking
- constructing explanations & designing solutions
- engaging in argument from evidence
- obtaining, evaluating, & communicating info
The 8 practices are embedded into the standards to make sure that students are working to understand them on a deeper level. By the end of their education, students should be able to do all 8 easily.
I specialize in creating resources to support teachers who are using the standards in their Kindergarten Classrooms. My Intro to STEM and class communication posters are incredibly helpful to your students.
Need more information? Check out the standards at https://www.nextgenscience.org/
What should your next steps be to start using NGSS in your classroom?
I’ve just provided you with a basic overview of how the NGSS are set up. It’s time to dive in and do the work. Over the next few weeks, I will be diving into the Kindergarten Standards to help my K Teachers out. Make sure you’ve signed up for my emails to stay up to date on new blog posts. Sign up here. I hope you can now start using the NGSS in your class today!