The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) bring exciting shifts to the science classroom for both teachers and students. With summer right around the corner and the 2015-2016 school year not far off, we’d like to share how you can jump start your NGSS learning!
And check out these NGSS Resources to continue your NGSS learning:
What better way for students to study science than to provide them with a supported nature immersion experience? Since 1978, SFUSD has partnered with the National Park Service Golden Gate National Recreation Area to provide no-fee science programming for SFUSD classrooms in their local parks. For the 2015-2016 school year, we are offering two elementary programs described below. Environmental education opportunities for K-2 and 6th-12th grade students are listed below as well.
2015-2016 Overnight Programming for Grades 3-5
The SFUSD Environmental Science Center’s coastal landscape serves as the students' laboratory, while SFUSD staff support daytime student science investigations. Evenings are spent notebooking, processing daytime experiences, cooking dinner together, participating in a campfire circle, and investigating the landscape through night-hike science activities. Classes are provided tents or indoor sleeping options. For the 2015-16 school year, all programming has been updated to support the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
To participate, each interested teacher must register at the link below and attend a three-hour workshop on Wednesday, September 2, 4-7pm. Priority acceptance will be given to grades 4 & 5, classes from Title 1 schools, and teams of teachers across a single grade level from the same school. Each teacher on a grade level team MUST register on their own. Registration will close on Friday, August 28, with notification of acceptance or waitlist status to all applicants. For more information, photos of programming in action, a sample schedule, and facility information, visit our website. Apply here: Overnight Application Form
Third Grade Habitat Exploration Day Programming
For SFUSD third grade classrooms, registration is now open for a no-cost four-hour, supported day program in your school’s local park during the 2015-2016 school year. All programming supports the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core ELA, and aligns to your third grade FOSS curriculum. Title 1 schools will be given priority, as will teams of teachers from the same schools. To participate, each individual teacher needs to register using the form below. If accepted, a pre-trip hour-long meeting will be scheduled with the ESC staff at your school site in the fall.Registration ends Friday, August 28 and email notifications of acceptance or waitlist will be sent out by September 1st. Apply here: Day Trip Application Form
Options for PreK-2 & 6-12 Teachers
Are you interested in an overnight science program for your students? The following free and fee-for-service partners work to support SFUSD classrooms (K-12 unless specified):
For questions, please do not hesitate to reach out for support to Lisa Wojcik (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are here to serve and support you to provide meaningful, place-based science learning for your classroom community!
This past October, our city and county government of San Francisco formally recognized that “…direct exposure to nature is a necessary component of a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and cognitive development” through enacting the “San Francisco Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights”.
This bill supports the 100,000+ children growing up in San Francisco, of which 55,000+ are enrolled with SFUSD. To help support our students participate in these experiences, SFUSD is supporting our first-ever “Get Outside Week” scheduled for April 20-24, 2015. SFUSD is on track to being one of the greenest districts in the country. For a free SF Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights poster, please send your name and school address to email@example.com. The following are the 10 experiences explicitly named in the bill and agencies that work to support them:
1) EXPLORE ALL WILD PLACES IN THE CITY
The best introductory guide for field experiences in San Francisco is Finding Urban Nature, An Educators' Guide to Exploring San Francisco Natural History. This manual is free and is often provided with summer professional development workshops. The guidebook provides detailed prep tips to consider, bathroom locations, MUNI routes and ‘quick tips’ about each park. Important information about what to consider, how to pack and prepare are also included. Self-guided adventure booklets exploring wild jewels of the city can be purchased from Urbia (bulk discounts for SFUSD classes).
2) HARVEST AND EAT A FRUIT OR VEGETABLE
All SFUSD schools are going through, or have gone through Prop A Bond Renovations. A portion of bond funding is put aside to create usable, educational green-spaces at each site. These spaces can directly support many CCSS and NGSS standards. If you are looking for inspiration for your own site, many elementary and secondary sites have excellent examples to borrow from. To have your students participate in this activity in a larger or more developed garden space, have your class to participate in the SFPUC sponsored Garden for the Environment Field Trip, or, reach out to the many amazing community gardens sponsored by SF Rec and Park. You can also use this on-line map to find where you can harvest fruit in public places.
3) PLANT A SEED AND WATCH IT GROW
Easily done within your classroom and transferred to your school’s outdoor green space. Observations of seed development not only satisfy many educational standards, but also help students connect to their community and environment in a fun and personal way. SFUSD sponsored FOSS kits provide basic supplies for elementary classrooms to support this activity. For school garden ideas and resources visit SFUSD’s Education Outside.
4) VISIT AND CARE FOR A LOCAL PARK
Our GGNRA Parks Conservancy, and SF Rec & Park provide supported stewardship programming for classrooms every single day of the week! Contact volunteer coordinators through the links to find out the best way to get your schools involved. The SF Parks Alliance has created this on-line map to help find local events and parks.
5) SPLASH BY THE OCEAN OR THE BAY
The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association provides fantastic elementary and secondary programming that encourages standards-based student exploration of San Francisco's Pacific coastline. For Bay-based experiences, contact the Bay.org agency, which provides supported school group experiences along the Bay shoreline of San Francisco.
6) PLAY IN THE SAND OR MUD
Our own SFUSD Environmental Science Center supports structured, sandy-beach exploration with elementary students on the second day of their overnight. Secondary students can participate in citizen science activities by participating in LiMPETs Sandy Beach Monitoring at Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Ocean Beach or Fort Funston.
7) DISCOVER URBAN WILDLIFE
Citizen Science projects are an excellent and engaging way for students to investigate what wild plants and animals share San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences regularly hosts Citizen Science gatherings for students of all ages. The Randall Museum provides an amazing facility that cares for many rehabilitated and non-releasable indigenous animals that students can learn from up close. eBird and iNaturalist.org are both free (and simple) apps that you can use to record and share your wildlife observations with the scientific world (and get answers to unknown species).
8) SLEEP UNDER THE STARS
Our own SFUSD Environmental Science Center (ESC) houses one of the only two permitted camping spots within San Francisco. ESC camping is available for SFUSD elementary school groups. While registration is full for 2014-15, our April science department newsletter will open registration for 2015-16. If you are looking for something for secondary students, Camping in the Presidio houses the only other camping spot within our city, and is open to PK-12.
9) CLIMB A TREE
Golden Gate National Recreation Area Land’s End hosts the Pacific Leadership institute that provides a safe and accessible tree-top, teamwork challenge opportunity appropriate for students above the age of 10, and for administrative teams!
10) RIDE A BIKE
SFUSD’s Bike to School Week is occurring simultaneously to “Get Outside Week” during April 20-24. To organize a bike-train, or safe bike route with your students, please contact the SFUSD Department of Sustainability.
If you are interested how to get your school more involved with Get Outside Week, or other resources that may exist to help you support these efforts, contact Lisa Wojcik of SFUSD's Environmental Science Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students who know how to engage in argument from evidence will be able to think critically about claims and their sources.
Adapted from Appendix F of the Next Generation Science Standards
Argument is the soul of an education because argument forces a writer to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of multiple perspectives - Niel Postman
Arguing from evidence is an integral part of what scientists, engineers, and engaged citizens do. Scientists argue from evidence to reach agreements about the best explanation for a natural phenomenon. Engineers argue from evidence to identify the best solution for a design problem. And if they want to be credible, citizens back up their claims with evidence. Therefore, students need to be taught to defend their own ideas with evidence, as well as “listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on their merits” (Appendix F, NGSS). From healthcare to transportation to environmental stewardship, a myriad of personal and societal issues require citizens to make informed decisions based on their ability to decipher “good science” from “bad science” or claims that are supported with sound evidence from those that are not.
The Common Core State Standards also recognize the importance of arguing from evidence. Standard Mathematical Practice 3 and the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards ask students to “Construct viable arguments and critique reasoning of others," and to “Read, write and speak grounded in evidence" respectively.
Below is an example of how the practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence progresses from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
Below are examples of Earth and Space Science performance expectations from the NGSS that incorporate the practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence.
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
K-ESS2-2. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
5-ESS1-1. Support an argument that the apparent brightness of the sun and stars is due to their relative distances from the Earth.
MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
Writing in Science - Arguing from Evidence - Learn more about the importance of arguing from evidence and learn how to teach your students to write in science and specifically to write refutational text.
Making Informed Decisions and Critical Thinking - Learn how to teach your students to make informed decisions and think critically (especially with respect to the barrage of information on the internet). These skills can be applied to any content area.
NSTA webinar - Presentation about the NGSS, with a focus on Arguing from Evidence starting on slide 14.
Introducing and Assessing Argumentation in the Science Classroom - Presentation from Seeds of Science, Roots of Reading (scienceliteracy.org) explaining argumentation and offering ideas about how to assess student learning.
Bozeman Science video about Engaging in Argument from Evidence - This video begins with a discussion of the heliocentric and geocentric model of the Universe that eventually lead to the Copernican Revolution. It highlights the importance of both informal and formal arguments.
What is STEAM Education and Why are we Exploring it in SFUSD? STEAM is the purposeful integration of the Artistic practices and content (Visual, Media, Performing, Literary) into the teaching, learning and assessment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Why, as a 21st century educator, should I be interested in STEAM?
A STEAM approach allows and challenges us to:
So, what does STEAM look like here in SFUSD?
Here are a few examples of the work, investigations, creativity, and play happening in our district:
In addition, the Arts Integration Specialist, Kim Campisano, works through the STEM - Science team in collaboration with various departments of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction (VAPA, Multilingual, STEM, ELA/Humanities) to identify or develop following Strategies and Structures:
"Sometimes I wonder if there's more to life than unlocking the mysteries of the universe."
Asking Questions and Defining Problems
Adapted from Appendix F of the Next Generation Science Standards
A scientific question is defined as one that can be answered through empirical evidence. Asking questions is often the first step towards scientific inquiry - students may be driven by their own curiosity, or a prediction as a result of a previous investigation or experience, or the desire to solve a problem. Through research, investigation and observation students can work towards answering their questions about the world. Students also need to be able to ask questions of and think critically about data and the claims of others.
Much like asking questions is the first step towards scientific inquiry, defining problems is often the first step towards the engineering process. Students need to define a problem or address a human need before they can go about finding a solution. Part of this is also defining the parameters of a given problem - What materials can be used? How much time is given? What systems are involved with the design? Defining problems is an essential skill not only for engineers, but for all citizens. Teachers define problems & work towards solving them countless times a day in their classrooms!
Below is an example of how the practice of Asking Questions and Defining Problems progresses from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
Below are examples of Engineering performance expectations from the NGSS that incorporate the practice of Asking Questions and Defining Problems.
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
NSTA article - One page resource with more information about this practice.
NSTA Webinar - Includes a presentation about Asking Questions and Defining Problems, along with other resources.
Bozeman Science video about Asking Questions and Defining Problems - A quick introduction to this practice and its applications.
How to Ask the Right Question - Tedx Youth Talk - Great food for thought about why asking questions is important, and how to ask questions.
Engineering is Elementary - Saving Salila's Turtle - A video of an elementary classroom discussion that uses a read-aloud as a springboard to define environmental problems. An accompanying unit for grades 1-5 is available here.
Exploratorium Snacks - These activities, which are classroom-ready versions of Exploratorium exhibits, can be used to generate questions with students.
Elementary Materials Update: A big task of our department is to remove arguably the biggest barrier for teaching science: materials. We are working with 25 schools at a time to rebuild their FOSS kits. This means that teachers are inventorying what is missing, and placing orders with our department. These schools will continue to inventory their kits yearly so that we can order replacement consumable materials. By the end of the 2015-16 year, we expect all SFUSD elementary schools to have rebuilt FOSS kits. Please contact Leah Plack at email@example.com if you have questions about this process for your individual site.
Looking for materials for your classroom? There are a variety of places to get free or reduced-cost general supplies and science specific materials for your classroom. In addition to the locations listed below, Craigslist, garage sales, and your family/friends may have items that you can repurpose. Use the power of social media to connect with people looking to donate to your Donor's Choose campaign, office supplies, or their old laptop/tablet.
The Science Team at Curriculum and Instruction had an amazing year of learning, teaching, coordinating, collaborating, imagining, and planning. We've been fortunate enough to be able to support organizations in bringing science experiences directly to our students. Watching students participate in hands-on science has been exciting and rewarding! Here are a few of the largest events we were able to support:
In addition to student centered events, the Science Team has offered professional development and science support to teachers through central and site-based Professional Development sessions. To date, we've been able to offer:
This year also marked the launch of several new modes of communication from our department, including:
Keep watching these spaces as we fill them with resources for SFUSD teachers, students and families!
We look forward to continuing this support next year, while innovating new ways to encourage high quality science teaching and learning for all SFUSD students. Stay tuned for PD opportunities, science events, student opportunities, and more!
A new set of science standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), were adopted by the state of California in September 2013. These standards were developed through a collaborative, state-led process that resulted in rich content and practice. They are arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The NGSS build upon our best knowledge of how students learn science and identify a coherent set of disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts and science and engineering practices that all students should have mastered by the end of 12th grade. We are currently in the Awareness phase of implementation and will be working to support all SFUSD teachers in aligning their practice to the NGSS by 2016-2017. In this Spotlight, we will highlight how the SFUSD Office of Curriculum and Instruction will support this work next year and how you can begin to make the shift to the NGSS in your classroom.
For elementary teachers, our focus during the 2014-2015 school year will be on supporting the Common Core implementation through science instruction. There are a limited number of minutes in a school day, and teachers are continually asked to fit more and more into that set amount of time. The elementary science team at C&I is focused on supporting teachers in identifying ways in which they can bundle their instructional minutes and ‘feed two birds with one seed’. As part of this work, we will be offering a series of professional development sessions called “Integrating Science and the CCSS”. We will also be developing tools and resources for this work that will be shared on our science website.
To prepare for the implementation of the NGSS, we encourage all teachers to:
Our 2014-15 focus on the NGSS for secondary teachers will be two-fold:
Unlike with the implementation of the CCSS for ELA and Mathematics, we have the opportunity to use several years for our shift to the NGSS. We encourage all teachers to:
SFUSD Environmental Science Center Programming for 2014-15 by Lisa Wojcik, Program Director, SFUSD Environmental Science Center WojcikL@sfusd.edu
The definition of science is ‘the study of the natural world’ . What better way for students to study science, than to provide them with a supported nature immersion experience? Since 1978, SFUSD has partnered with the NPS Golden Gate National Recreation Area to provide a free, 2-day, 1-night, supported science program at beautiful, coastal Fort Funston.
The SFUSD Environmental Science Center’s coastal landscape serves as the students' laboratory. The first day of programming, students participate in upland hiking and science theme exploration. Their second day focuses on sandy beach and ocean theme exploration. Day hikes and exploration are supported by SFUSD naturalists. Evenings are spent notebooking and processing daytime experiences, cooking dinner together, participating in a campfire circle, and investigating the landscape through night hikes and science activities. Classes are provided with tent or indoor sleeping options.
In addition, free day-programming is available for K-8 teachers at our coastal Fort Funston location. Programming is tailored to your classroom needs, with middle school students working in partnership with the Parks Conservancy Native Plant Nursery at Fort Funston.
For more information, check out photos of our programs in action, a sample schedule, and facility information on our website.
K-8 Day Programming
Apply here for 2014-2015: Day Trip Application Form
If you are a 6-12 teacher interested in bringing your students on an overnight science experiential program, the following fee-for service partners work to support SFUSD classrooms, often scholarships may be available:
Our Science Department Team members are committed to updating visitors on science education topics and other areas of concern. Please share your thoughts with us as well.