Tami Plein, Science Specialist
Shane Barron (New London), Abby Richenberger (Burlington), Kelly Hackett (Fort Madison), and Becky Morey (Fort Madison) collaborate with Drew Ayrit (WACO) using Google Hangout during the last Network session. GPAEA Science Consultants are experimenting with distance learning to provide teachers with more options to meet their professional development needs.
Groups of GPAEA Middle School and High School Science teachers have been working to develop units and identify resources that align with both Iowa Core Science and the Next Generation Science standards. The purpose of the Science Network sessions is to provide networking amongst GPAEA science teachers. It is beneficial for science teachers to have the opportunity to work with others who are teaching similar courses. Participating in professional development with teachers in the same discipline allows teachers to share ideas and experiences. With the possibility of new science standards in Iowa and the need for teachers to better align with our current Iowa Core Science Content AND Literacy standards, the network helps meet the need for collaborative groups of science teachers.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K-12 science standards created through a collaborative, state-led process. In addition to states, the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and other critical partners were active in the development and review of the NGSS. Writing and review teams consisted of K–12 teachers, state science and policy staff, higher education faculty, scientists, engineers, cognitive scientists, and business leaders. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) also had two public web-based feedback periods prior to the finalization of the standards, during which over 200,000 unique visitors viewed the standards. In addition to the public feedback, state leaders, teachers, scientific and educator organizations, higher education faculty, scientists and business community members reviewed drafts at specific intervals. As one of the lead state partners, Iowa is in the process of considering adoption of the NGSS.
The NGSS lay out the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts that students should master in preparation for college and careers. Regardless of Iowa’s adoption decision, districts can use the Next Generation Science Standards as an avenue for implementing STEM in all classrooms K-12. NGSS performance expectations align with the broadly stated Essential Skills and Concepts of the current Iowa Core Science, but provide districts with grade level standards for K-5 with well-written assessment statements that will support districts moving towards standards-based grading. NGSS has embedded engineering and science practices in the standards, unlike the stand-alone science as inquiry in Iowa Core. NGSS also has built-in connections with the math and ELA standards. If teachers develop and implement curriculum starting in the elementary level, as NGSS does, this will give our students the background needed to consider and pursue STEM careers in the future.