The Connecticut State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2015. Currently, in Stratford, a team composed of teachers from all grade levels are working on creating curriculum, instruction, & assessments to reflect those standards.
Within NGSS, there are three dimensions of learning science, Cross-Cutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. Cross-Cutting Concepts are ideas such as patterns and cause & effect that occur across and connect all science disciplines. Science and Engineering Practices are skills, such as Developing & Using Models, Constructing Explanations, and Engaging in Argument From Evidence, that scientists and engineers use to investigate and design. Disciplinary Core Ideas are the core concepts and content across four domains: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth & Space Science, and Engineering.
For more information, please see the following:
- A Toolkit for Parents and Families
- Parent Guide for Understanding New Science Standards for Grades 6-8
- Parent Guide for Understanding New Science Standards for Grades 6-8 in Spanish
Units in NGSS are designed around an anchoring event and driving question. The anchoring event can be any complex phenomenon for which students can develop explanations over the course of a unit. These can be historically significant, social justice issues, or epic natural phenomena. The emphasis a unit then is in explaining the “why” of the natural event or phenomenon. The why often involves things that are not directly observable, either because they are so small scale, they happen so quickly or over such a long span of time, they are inaccessible to direct observation, and/or abstract. In order to express the “why” of an anchoring phenomenon, students use models and explanations.
Developing & Using Models: 5 Characteristics of Scientific Models
- Address a question about something in the real world.
- Include something invisible or hypothetical and rules for how those things interact.
- Must be consistent with the evidence that we have and make predictions about future observations.
Constructing Explanations: Claim Evidence Reasoning (CER)
- Claim– What do you know? This is a statement that provides an answer to the investigation focus question.
- Evidence- How do you know that? This is quantitative or qualitative data that has been gathered throughout the investigation.
- Reasoning– Why does your evidence support your claim? This links the claim and evidence, serving as a means of justification of why the student has come to the claim or answer, ideally linking the idea to a bigger scientific concept.