Translating the NGSS: Learning Sequences
Lesson Objective: Use an instructional model to deepen understanding of the NGSS
All Grades / Science / NGSS

Thought starters

  1. What do the teachers learn by analyzing Ms. Rivera's instructional sequence?
  2. How do the teachers reflect on what they learned about the NGSS?
  3. What is the purpose of Tool 4?
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  • Translating the NGSS: Learning Sequences Transcript

    Speaker 1: When they came back and we did do some engage and explore lessons, they

    Translating the NGSS: Learning Sequences Transcript

    Speaker 1: When they came back and we did do some engage and explore lessons, they had some context to what they were learning and I was like, "Oh man, I wish every day or every unit I could just take them to see something." The question then is how can you bring that into the classroom. Like what can you do at the beginning of learning sequences? Maybe you can't go to the museum, but maybe you can do something in the school yard.

    Speaker 2: Yeah, down the road, hopefully we'll, like as a whole [inaudible 00:00:43] to these kids we'll have a broader base of experiences that then you as a science teacher can draw.

    Speaker 1: This whole process is very iterative and you're gonna constantly be going back and-

    The process that the teachers are going through is part of a professional development curriculum called Five Tools and Processes for Translating the NGSS Into Instruction and Classroom Assessment. We have this group of about 15 middle school science teachers. The work they're engaging in is to help them translate a standards page into what they're actually going to do with students in a classroom.

    Speaker 3: This particular session is focused on the fourth of a series of five tools that have been designed specifically to help teachers plan for instruction and classroom assessment with the Next Generation Science Standards in mind. So we begin by grounding participants in the Miss Rivera Scenario.

    Speaker 1: Take out your Miss Rivera Sequence.

    Speaker 3: This is a scenario that they have seen before and we use this scenario to promote the different kinds of thinking that are associated with each tool.

    Speaker 4: We're given an instructional sequence about a teacher named Miss Rivera and we broke down each of her Five E lessons into a chart paper that had what the teacher does and what the student does.

    Speaker 1: We'd like you to think about what Miss Rivera considered as she planned for instruction and during instruction. What were the things she was thinking about in order to plan her lesson?

    Speaker 5: I think the most important thing was what questions would engage your students.

    Speaker 6: She had to consider phenomena that the students would relate too.

    Speaker 7: She wanted them to actually walk away with a deeper, richer understanding of how the world operates.

    Speaker 1: The learning goals, the performance expectations, background knowledge kids might have.

    Speaker 6: So it was like while she was thinking about what do they need to know and understand to apply this in a new situation on their own.

    Speaker 1: So the teachers come up with this list and then we look at that list. And that's exactly the template for Tool Four. All right, so I'm gonna invite you to go back over to your lesson charts. In Tool Four, we go back to our charts and we look at those lessons again.

    Speaker 3: Specifically, to look at the Next Generation Science Standards, to call out the three dimensions of the standards.

    Speaker 1: And so teachers are given colored post-its. Orange for the DCI's, blue for the Science and Engineering Practices and green for the Cost Cutting Concepts. And they go back to those charts and they put post-its next to language that they see that comes from each of those dimensions.

    Speaker 8: Predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms. [crosstalk 00:03:29].

    Speaker 9: Just write that, interdependent relationships with ecosystems?

    Speaker 8: I don't think you even have to write anything. I think you just have to take your orange and just-

    Speaker 9: Oh, just lop it on there.

    Speaker 8: Literally stick it on there.

    Speaker 6: Identification. Because they're identifying pattern, but they're also identifying relationships. So do you want to ... But, do you see why they are? Yeah.

    Speaker 1: After they do that, and they work in their small lesson groups, we step back away from the charts and we look at them and then we see the colors. Look at the bigger picture. You know, what do you see here? What do you just notice?

    Speaker 7: If you look across the entire thing, it's not like, "Okay, lesson two is all orange. Lesson three is all green." It's a nice healthy mix or potpourri of going across the entire thing.

    Speaker 1: Yeah, so we can actually see ... So this, this question about what does learning look at the nexus of the three dimensions? We can actually, sort of, look for that now as we look across and look for these three colors. We reflect on how she used the Five E Model in order to teach all three dimensions across her sequence.

    Speaker 10: I thought it was interesting that both the explorers had like five or more of the blue post-its, which is Science and Engineering Practices. It was surprising to me to see where the three dimensions fell in the different ease of each of the lesson. Actually going through the example during the PD, made it very clear.

    Speaker 1: So what's the practice? The performance expectation was to build arguments based off of evidence. So they were able to watch these videos, do some note taking, but then they were able to revise definitions, reflect on what ... It was there ... Kinda like a metacognition thing as well. Thinking back to what they had done and changing things. So then, I'm not sure ... You started by saying argument, but I'm not actually sure, based on what you just said, that actually argument is really the practice. It sounds more that it's about making sense of information.

    Speaker 3: So earlier in the lessons. right? Earlier in the lessons, she has them start to think about what they would consider as evidence?

    Speaker 1: Yes, and I was saying she's using ... She's scaffolding that. She's sort of modeling for them and giving them some of the pieces. Their thinking about it and then she then gives them the pieces they need. I think there's more autonomy though from the students though by the time we get over here.

    Speaker 3: And I wanna draw that line, that conversation about the line of evidence all the way back to lesson one. Just to mark something that's pretty key. What are they basing their conversations on? When they talk about their responses to Miss Rivera's questions or asking questions of their own, what are they basing their conversations on? Do you have ideas about that?

    Speaker 8: In the beginning it's just the background knowledge, but by the time she gets to number five, and I'm just kind of remembering a little bit, they're considering if they should allow people to begin to hunt the wolves again outside of the parks areas. There, they were just like, "Should they have brought them back? Shouldn't they have brought them back?" It was very not ... It was just up in the air. It was just from whatever they think. And then here we're finally saying, "Oh okay, now here's what we've been learning about ecosystems. Here's how they affect the ecosystems. Here's some data. Now, what do you really think about that question that we brought up in number one? And then they can use that. They're starting to really use that evidence idea. Now they can apply that same exact technique they learned in Lesson Five to Lesson Six.

    Speaker 3: And what I want to mark in what you said was here it was what they think, in some ways it might be opinion. Right? So we're not really, we're not really talking about evidence yet. We're talking about opinion here. And one of the things that you said, building on, I think, the conversation, is that students are really making claims based on evidence and considering reasoning as we move later. So opinion, prior knowledge, experience, what I think early and then evidence later. The purpose for Tool Four is to help them take the work that they have done in thinking about a coherent, instructional sequence and blow that out with more detail to think about how students will be supported in the Science and Engineering Practices and how will those cross cutting concepts be embedded in instruction to help students connect to the bigger picture and explain the phenomena.

    Speaker 11: We're tying all the lessons together in the end. We have stability and change. We have patterns. We have cause and effect. And we were even talking about system models from prior lessons and energy flow.

    Speaker 1: So the cross cutting concepts aren't there just as things we learn about. They actually help us with understanding and making sense of phenomena and those discipline core ideas. That cross cutting concept of patterns is useful, right? It helps them understand what we want them to understand.

    Speaker 3: We took a pass at the Miss Rivera Scenarios specifically to apply our ever deepening understanding of the BSCS Five E Instructional Model. They'll take what they've learned from this work with Tool Four and apply it to their own instructional sequence.

School Details

Brooklyn Secondary School For Collaborative Studie
610 Henry Street
Brooklyn NY 11231
Population: 690

Data Provided By:



William Leou
Lauren Defino



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture