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Allow students to pursue their own questions as you work to incorporate the NGSS into your curriculum.
Mary Colson (2016), as a teacher, designed lab and provide an activity about mineral identification for students. Students finished experiments successfully but they did not show enthusiasm for it. The teacher found some reasons. Students recorded some data after testing hardness and heft of minerals but they just got the numbers. They had no idea about how it became the number and why. The activity just focused on the feature of minerals but did not make connections with the whole earth science. Students could not know and think about the relationship between minerals and the developing nature. Mary concluded that this activity failed to make students feel the reality of scientific investigation and NGSS can create an authentic classroom.
Students should ask questions by their observation and they will pursue ideas they are interested in. Teachers can provide some opportunities for them to measure specific objects arouse their curiosity.
Leaving some room for students to have scientific practices is essential. Engaging students in scientific practices is more effective than covering all the materials for them. To NGSS-ify this lab, Mary has different but necessary roles, like a manager to keep everyone safe, a coach to provide directions. Students will not get a ready answer from the teacher but they can figure out results together.
In addition, “Use statements or questions to give an overall structure to your instruction”. The activities with larger context of ideas can help students think deeply and logically.
Arranging time and structure of a class is important for effective teachers. They can learn to teach science in an interesting way and create NGSS-friendly classroom through NGSS.
What I most like about this article is that it is written by a teacher who started out with just good lessons, but then problem solved to make great interactive lessons that really got students interested and excited. The advice about letting students pursue their own questions is so valuable because if students come use their curiosity to form questions, they are going to be more motivated and engaged. I also appreciate the advice at the end of the article encouraging teachers to try new things and learn from them as it is okay to say I don't know as long as you help your students find out.
Kelsie Rodman (Springfield, OH)