Tami Plein, GPAEA Science Specialist
During the 2018-19 school year, middle school science teachers from five Great Prairie AEA districts are piloting open resource (OER) curriculum units as part of the nation-wide OpenSciEd project. Nine teachers from Burlington, Centerville, Davis County, Ottumwa, and Sigourney, along with 19 other Iowa middle school teachers, are field testing prototype units, aligned to Iowa’s unique sequence of 6-8 science standards, with over 3000 Iowa students! Feedback and data from 10 lead states, including Iowa, will be used to revise the pilot units and develop the remaining OpenSciEd units.
All OpenSciEd units and associated professional development will be FREE for teachers over the next few years. In the Fall of 2019, two 8th grade, three 7th grade, and two 6th grade units will be available for Iowa teachers to implement. Each unit addresses a bundle of standards aligned to our Iowa middle school grade levels. Remember that Iowa’s Science Implementation Plan provides two extra years to implement the standards at the middle school level. Unit bundles available Fall 2019 include:
- 6th Grade: Thermal Energy Transfer, Cells & Systems
- 7th Grade: Metabolic Reactions, Ecosystems: Matter & Energy, Electric & Magnetic forces
- 8th Grade: Sound Waves, Water Cycle & Weather
All print materials will be available online (student editions, teacher editions, storyline, handouts, slides) for use on multiple platforms. As part of the pilot group, the Iowa teachers received kits with equipment and supplies for their first units. Materials lists for each unit will be available for interested districts.
Iowa teachers need high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials and associated professional development experiences. Having high-quality curricular materials is enough to account for over 40% of the positive effects of a successful multi-pronged intervention (Taylor et al., 2015). Iowa adopted a specific sequence of middle school standards that is unique and appropriate for our state. There are currently no Iowa-aligned, full-year middle school science curricula that have been identified in the marketplace. Therefore, there is a need for high-quality materials available to ALL Iowa teachers regardless of their district location, size, or finances.
OpenSciEd is an effort of the National Center for Civic Innovation. Its goal is to improve the supply of and demand for high-quality K–12 science instructional materials by producing free curricula designed for the new college- and career-ready science standards.