From Traditional Conclusions to Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

Constructing Explanations and Engaging in Argument from Evidence are two Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) practices I have heavily emphasized in my classroom over the past few years. My immersion in NGSS professional development that focuses on these practices has allowed me to develop new ways to engage my students and assess their abilities.

I teach seventh grade in a selective enrollment school in Chicago. When I first started teaching, I used a traditional lab report rubric (Figure 1) to help scaffold the conclusion writing of my students. The rubric focused on the skills we had started at the beginning of the year, collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data, explaining data, and reflecting on the work done in the lab.

traditional lab report rubric

Figure 1

In the beginning, some students had difficulty explaining their data; they could only state some numbers or a qualitative change they had seen. As I reflected on their data, I realized they were providing me with a lab analysis that was still very surface level. The assessment structure I used also restricted the explanations they were making to lab reports, which happened only a few times per semester.

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Smart Grids For Schools: Building A Real-World Understanding of Energy


One of the major themes throughout the Environmental Science course that I teach to our 7th graders is energy. We flow through the year like an electron, looking at how energy flows in ecosystems, the costs and benefits of obtaining energy from different protein sources, how energy is created from fossil fuels, the impact that energy generation has had on our atmosphere and climate, and finally, how alternative energies can be utilized to lessen the human footprint.

We do this by utilizing Illinois State University’s Smart Grids for Schools program.

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