Evaluation and Assessment

Converting "old-school teachers" to NGSS

I'm entering my third year as a STEM Coordinator/Science Resource person at a K-8 school, and my main focus is supposed to be about guiding the classroom teachers to better science teaching.  Obviously, converting to NGSS-designed lessons has been paramount (to me) for the past 2 years.  My problem is that very few teachers have adopted the NGSS philosophy.  I'm still seeing a lot of reading the textbook, doing an activity once a week (if we're lucky!), and following the old "mile-wide but an inch-deep" methods of teaching science, along with using the textbook-provided science tests.  I know that if I try to get them to assess their science activities differently (following the NGSS assessment format), I'll really get some kickback!  Many of the teachers I work with are older, with 10-15+ years of teaching experience, and I spent a lot of my first year just proving that I wasn't their adversary.  Does anyone have some suggestions that I could try this coming school year, or how to transition to NGSS assessments with them?  Thanks!

Colleen Hampton
Colleen Hampton
45 Activity Points


I am one of those older teachers with 20+ years of experience. I started out doing hands on science because I am truly passionate and curious about how things work! Regardless if it is life science or physical science, I have to figure out how it works, how things are connected, and how can I share that with my students. I feel your frustration. Recently, for 3 years, I was a STEM Master Teacher and traveled on a rotation through 4-5 schools (PreK-5). It took quite some time to establish relationships with the teachers. In order to make a break through with some of the teachers, I modeled lessons. I bought materials if they didn't have them at the school. I would model the lesson for the first session, then they would co-teach with me, and if there were a 3rd section, they taught the same lesson. I made sure I broke the content down to a very basic component and gave the teachers a list of "look fors" while I was teaching that would help them with the flow of the lesson. I did not front load lessons. I would start with a demonstration, video, or question. A huge part of the teachers' fear was, not having all the answers. I told them, students should have questions that are not answered by the teacher. 

I'm a Lead Teacher now and handle science curriculum. There is a huge disconnect with science in my district. There is zero professional development for elementary teachers. I've had success one on one with teachers but it's taken a long time. I have to say, age is not the variable here, lack of content knowledge, lack of professional development, and lack of ever seeing an engaging science lesson in action is the trifecta for failure to teach a 5E, NGSS, hands on science lesson. 

Can you sit down and plan out a week with your teachers? 

btw- have you checked out ngss@nsta.org

There are lessons and resources there organized by science strands and grade levels.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
92069 Activity Points

Hi Coleen...

Have you looked at the Picture Perfect STEM science lesson books for K-5?  Perhaps modeling a few of those lessons with/for a few teachers who are interested in expanding their science especially with these lessons that exeplify great science and engineering practices while also aligning with many literacy and math standards through their trade books. So many lesson set covers a lot of standards.

I am a retired, yet still active, K-12 Science Coordinator (from a large school system) and change is difficult and slow. Getting a few eager teachers who wish to do science in an experiental way and developing them as your leader team will help move things along...not quickly...but still move forward.  Students love to interact with materials and doing science, so providing these lessons and books and modeling/team teaching a few of the lessons could be a door opener... for the K-5 group.   Good luck! 

As for assessment at the 6-8  grade group, my best choice is ExploreLearning interactive lessons that can be used in whole or part.  The gizmos (interactive part of lesson) and associated lesson information and assessment questions are terrific. It's very teacher friendly in its set up.  Lots of learning for teachers and students in each lesson..all lessons aligned by either thru search or state standards or textbooks.  There is a cost per student or per school or system.  You can try it out for free for a month by registering... to determine its value at https://explorelearning.com

I don't think you can transition to the NGSS performance assessments without establishing the proper practices and quality lessons first.

I too hate textbook work, vocabulary work and worksheets....when it can be FUN and learning by doing.  Good luck!  

If you choose to try some of the lessons or ExploreLearning, and need support to get started...I am willing to help.  Post contact information if wanted or needed.

Kay McLeod
1455 Activity Points

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