What NGSS Course Pathways Do You See For High School Students?

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Transitions can be both exciting and marked by uncertainty. As a science coordinator and classroom coach, I’m learning about NGSS K-12 transition as I go. I’m sure the same is true for many of you. After reading “A Framework for K-12 Science Education,” by National Research Council (NRC) and spending some time with state education leaders, I quickly learned, with respect to the NGSS transition, “There will not be a significant shift in WHAT students learn, but in HOW they learn.” With this in mind, I’m seeking resources that might reveal the most efficient way to embed the NRC grade band endpoints as a foundation, coupled with dedicated professional development on the 3-D Learning vision.

My uncertainty begins with the pathway of the grade 9-12 student, due to the specialized nature of high school science. Even with 20 years of experience in the high school science classroom, I’m not confident that I know exactly what course pathways might look like in grades 9-12. The same K-8 transition blueprint won’t work here because four more years of integrated science will not meet the needs of all students. This is where I find the Achieve bundling approach to standards extremely important.

What is Bundling?

“Bundles” are groups of standards arranged together to create the endpoints for units of instruction. Bundling is just one step in a curriculum development process; many additional steps are required to create instructional materials designed for the NGSS.

Why Bundle?

Bundling is a helpful step in implementing standards because it helps students see connections between concepts and can allow more efficient use of instructional time.

According to NGSS, the standards “are not intended to be taught or assessed one at a time, or in isolation. Therefore, one helpful approach to beginning the translation of the NGSS into curriculum and instruction is to “bundle” standards together, arranging them in groups for instruction. Bundles of standards can be helpful to show connections between ideas, facilitate phenomenon-driven instruction, and promote efficient use of instructional time. They can form end goals for instruction at a similar scale to that of traditional curricular units. Several bundles can be assembled such that they coherently address all of the standards found within a grade level of instruction; when this process is done strategically, the bundles can form the outline of an entire course.”

There is no one fail-proof way to bundle the NGSS standards, but the idea of grouping standards to best illustrate connections and build proficiency across all three dimensions is one worth exploring.

How are you approaching course pathways in grades 9-12?

Your ideas are welcome and appreciated. I look forward to learning with you and sharing more about my learning process along the way.

Patti White is a former high school general science, biology, and chemistry teacher at North Haven High School in North Haven, Connecticut. She taught in the classroom for 20 years and is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University. She is currently working as a science coordinator and classroom coach for her district, and is a part of Teaching Channel’s Tch Next Gen Science Squad. Connect with Patti on Twitter: @pwhite_diane.

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