Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Red Wing Blackbird Study

Image result for outdoor science classEnvironmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Education Week recently published an article on an independent review of new middle school science curricula. The aim was to determine whether they "are truly aligned to" the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)." Six textbook series were examined. Four failed, one was viewed as partially aligned and one "got top marks for alignment, coherence, and usability." 

About 40 reviewers, mostly practicing teachers or science specialists, used "an in-house framework to judge each curriculum."

It made me think about what an NGSS classroom might look like...in action. I thought of a video--it is a favorite--in which a class learns about the behavior of red-wing blackbirds (I heard my first RW blackbirds about ten days after reports of their return.). I am especially fond of it because of its attention to animal behavior, an area of science that is easily overlooked in classrooms.

Teachers Alice Severson and Dom Lark are shown leading a class of 6th grade animal behaviorists. They happen to teach close to RW habitat and take advantage of that. The video is about 12 minutes long and features so-called three dimensional learning, a centerpiece of the NGSS.
As noted, "this video offers an overview of the unit. In subsequent videos, you will meet three of their students, and the series wraps up with Dom and Alice as they discuss and demonstrate how the unit influenced their ideas about teaching."

Image result for outdoor science class
The three dimensions in the new national science standards are core ideas, practices and crosscutting concepts. The learning involved is referred to as 3D learning.

The NGSS were rolled out in 2013 (Minnesota was involved in their development) and have since been adopted in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Not familiar with or want to know more about NGSS and 3D learning?

You may know that Minnesota has been involved in revising its science standards and is close to the finish line.  A Framework for K-12 Science Education:  Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas was an important resource for the team developing the revised standards. This document served as the basis for the NGSS. Not familiar with the Minnesota science revision process or want to know more? Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the relevant documents.

This video demonstrates some of the challenges of developing curricula that are aligned with NGSS standards.

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