The final version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released Tuesday, April 9th. The NGSS differ from the existing science standards in that they blend core science knowledge with scientific practices. To find out more about the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) check it out here. If your school is seeking quality, inquiry-based science teacher training workshops to help transition to the NGSS check out the science teacher training workshops I offer nation and worldwide at http://www.drdianateachertraining.com.
Karen Ostlund, PhD. provides an informative read regarding the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the conceptual shifts in the NGSS. The NGSS are quite different than the existing national science standards. The NGSS reflect how science is done in the real world by interconnecting three dimensions:
- Scientific and Engineering Practices,
- Croscutting Concepts, and
- Disciplinary Core Ideas.
For the past 25 years I’ve been conducting hands-on-minds-on teacher training workshops throughout the nation and world to all grade level teachers. I can honestly state that I view the soon to be NGSS as a positive movement to assure scientific literacy for our nation. I especially like the addition of the scientific and engineering practices, and the emphasis on making connections among the disciplines. Quite often teachers end up teaching a “bunch of” of isolated, disconnected facts as the science lesson. This type of instruction results in the lowest level of learning and comprehension. It’s all about making the connections, how do we apply what we have learned in the classroom to the real-world? If you are looking for quality hands-on-minds-on teacher training that aligns with the NGSS check out my teacher training website here.
To read the entire article check out the following link at NSTA
The math and reading sections of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) will be retired in the 2014–2015 school year. It will be replaced with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC test. The PARCC test will help educators align test results with the benchmarks set from what is known as the Common Core State Standards. The PARCC is tied to the Common Core, new, national academic standards that Florida and most other states have adopted. Even though the math however many Florida school districts will likely continue using the FCAT to test students in science.
To read more details about the changes that will take place in the FCAT in 2014–15 school year check out the following article by Khristopher J. Brooks in The Times-Union.
Florida Department of Education has released the 2011 FCAT and FCAT 2.0 results for reading, mathematics, and science. The results vary widely amongst the school districts in all areas. In reviewing the FCAT science scores many of the schools that improved in science scores attribute the gain to the implementation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. STEM practices and content are based on problem-based investigations, which necessitates a team approach to solving a problem. This type of learning environment promotes the development and strengthening of critical thinking and problem-solving skills in students. I encourage all school districts and schools that have not yet jumped on the STEM train to hop on now. Check out the 2011 FCAT and FCAT 2.0 results for reading, mathematics, and science at the Florida Department of Education site here.
Florida Department of Education released the FCAT writing scores a day ago, and school districts throughout Florida are searching for answers for why the writing scores were significantly lower than last year. In fact so low that only about 1/3 of students who took the FCAT would have passed. Why the dramatic change in scores? Several possible reasons follow:
- A new set of standards for how Florida Department of Education measures students’ progress was made in the middle of the school year.
- Two individuals grade the FCAT now versus one.
- School districts stated that teachers did not have enough time to prepare the students for the new writing FCAT standards.
The Florida Board of Education held an emergency meeting on May 15th, and voted to lower the passing score from 4.0 to 3.0. This will bring the passing scores for this year close to the 80 percent or more from last years scores.
I have a difficult time with standards being lowered whether it’s for testing purposes or individual courses. I believe we have to ask ourselves how writing is being taught to the students. When school districts complain that there was not sufficient time for teachers to provide instruction for the writing component of FCAT we are back to teaching for the test.
During my teacher training workshops I promote the use of reflective journaling in all science classes K-12. One of the first questions I ask teachers during my training is how many of them implement some type of science notebook in their class. Very few of the teachers raise their hands. In other-words, students are not being given the opportunity to write in science. Teachers really enjoy and learn a great deal from the journaling aspect of the teacher trainings I conduct, and many participants state that they will begin implementing journaling in the science classroom after the training.
Daily journaling in the science classroom allows the student to reflect upon what they have learned. The reflective journal is not your traditional student notebook with “ditto sheets” and lab sheets attached. Instead it consists primarily of the individual students ideas, thoughts etc.. My suggestion to all the Florida school superintendents and principals is to encourage teachers to implement reflective journaling in all science classes throughout the entire year. Reflective journaling allows students to develop and strengthen their inquiry skills, critical thinking skills, and writing skills.
For more detailed information about the low FCAT writing scores see the following article in Orlando Sentinel
The photos below are from a recent Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teacher training workshop I conducted.
Day two of the 2012 FCAT testing in Florida, and low and behold there just might be some issues with the science section of the FCAT. Check out the following article by Robert Krampf aka The Happy Scientist. Quite a few comments have evolved from his article.
Florida is facing a critical shortage of math and science teachers at the middle and high school level. Florida plans on using Race to The Top funds to spur the education of more of these critical instructors, according to the Florida Department of Education. I’m hoping that the Florida Department of Education seeks out quality educational experiences and long-term professional staff development for the math and science teachers that will be heading into Florida’s middle and high school science classrooms. Also, of importance is the need for teachers trained in STEM education practices. To read Leslie Postal’s article in November 28th, 2011 Orlando Sentinel see the following link.
Florida Governor Rick Scott wants to spend more dollars on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors at the university level. “If a student wants to obtain a degree in Anthropology they better look elsewhere.” The state of Florida will begin to shift funding away from certain liberal arts majors at state universities to promote STEM disciplines. Read further details in the October 13th, 2011 US News Report by Jason Koebler. I have not agreed with all of Rick Scott’s ideas, but in this case the governor is “spot-on” to promote funding STEM disciplines.
Just back from conducting 10 days of teacher training workshops throughout the state of Florida. As always it’s a pleasure to share my expertise and enthusiasm for science with the teachers I meet. The 2011–2012 school year is no different than the previous years, school districts and schools want for their students to do well on the FCAT. For students to do well on the science component of the FCAT it’s essential that the students have had the opportunity to conduct hands-on-minds-on, inquiry-based science investigations throughout the school year. The students must be able to comprehend science concepts. If they have been taught science concepts through route memorization and paper and pencil activities, they are sure to do poorly on the FCAT. The FCAT requires students to be able to think critically, including extrapolating information from extended questions, as well as interpreting data from graphs. During two recent FCAT science teacher training workshops teachers explored a wide-array of science concepts from the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. Teachers conducted hands-on investigations to explore Nature of Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Life Science concepts. Conducting investigations that allow the student to see the connections to the Big Ideas is essential. The following photos are from recent FCAT science teacher training workshops. I’m wishing all the Florida students and teachers a great year ahead, to ask questions, develop critical thinking skills, as they actively explore all the wonders of science.