NGSS 3-Dimensional Wave Riding

6922by Chelsea Haynes


As I sat among fellow teachers at a KDE Through Course Task Analysis session, Dr. Stephen Pruitt popped in to speak with us.  He gave us this courageous charge:

“Teachers, it’s time to take back your classrooms!”

He later mentioned that the state would no longer allow big companies to make assessments. Teachers will write the state assessments. This was music to my ears. I have finally heard positivity from the big boss, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education. If he is promoting this change, then why don’t we hear this same message in our schools? Why isn’t the NGSS wave hitting hard at the school level?

As summer break fades away, I reflect on my experiences in the last year; but, this idea still bothers me. Why isn’t the importance of NGSS getting translated to all stakeholders? Why are there schools that limit exposure to science? If we dig down deeper into the components of the standards, we can see so many cross-curricular opportunities.

Schools have been ingrained to think of standards as content that is assessable on the state test. This is why we have specific pacing guides, curriculum maps, etc to make sure everyone is teaching what the kids need to know. However, is this really what’s best for students to prepare for the future beyond the test? Absolutely not. The NGSS direct us to look at learning holistically through 3-D learning. All three dimensions are equally important– Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC). Teachers are good at getting students to understand the content or the DCI; this is how we have been teaching from the beginning of time. We need to get good at teaching them how to use the SEPs and CCCs.

Let’s take a look at the SEPs and CCCs…

Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) Crosscutting Concepts (CCC)
1. Asking questions and defining problems 1. Patterns
2. Developing and using models 2. Cause and effect
3. Planning and carrying out investigations 3. Scale, proportion, and quantity
4. Analyzing and interpreting data 4. Systems and system models
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking 5. Energy and matter
6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions 6. Structure and function
7. Engaging in argument from evidence 7. Stability and change
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

There are so many cross-curricular opportunities!  What an opportunity!  

That said, let’s dig deeper into one SEP that particularly is a struggle for some students- analyzing and interpreting data.


If you want to see what students are expected to do in your grade level, check out this standards reference table on the bottom of page 9.

One strategy I use to help teach a student to analyze and interpret data is the BSCS I2 strategy. For example, students are encouraged to annotate a data table to 1) identify “What I See” and 2) identify “What it Means”- aka WIS/WIM in order to make sense of it. I particularly like this strategy because you can use it at all grade levels and also a way to differentiate within a class. If you aren’t a science or math teacher, this can also be used to annotate any text as well.

I hope that my reflection in this post gives resources and motivation for you.  So I must ask you what was asked of me.  Are you ready to take back your classroom and ride this NGSS wave with me? Keep posted next month for more NGSS wave riding.