With the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in full swing in my district, I thought it would most helpful to share how I plan my lessons to coincide with its three-dimensional learning requirements.
DCIs, CCCs, SEPs, oh my! So many acronyms, it is no wonder most teachers do not know where to start. But my hope is that this blog post will help you to not only make sense of the meaning of these, but also give you some idea of the process I use to devise an NGSS-aligned lesson.
The DCIs are most similar to the science content that your students need to know, therefore this is the first place I begin my lesson planning. I start here because if you do not know what science content to teach, it is impossible to plan for the science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts the students will use to learn this content. Here is an example of a DCI that I teach to in my atomic structure unit:
“PS 1.A - Each atom has a charged substructure consisting of a nucleus, which is made of protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons.”
Some DCIs may need to be broken down into smaller lesson objectives, for example the previous DCI could include lesson objectives for both learning about the history of the atom, ions, isotopes, and atomic mass. However, it is important to note that the NGSS now focuses on depth and not breadth. While it is important to paint an accurate picture of atomic structure, that can be done without necessarily teaching every single concept that the DCI may describe. Ideally, the students would be engaging in their own research and Q/A to uncover these concepts.
Which brings me to the second step in my lesson planning: selecting the crosscutting concepts. When you look at the DCI you must ask yourself, “what theme present in all of science can be used by your students to make sense of this content?” For example, if you are teaching about isotopes – patterns, structure and function, even stability and change are appropriate CCCs.
The final step in my lesson planning for an NGSS-aligned lesson causes me to ask myself, “how can my students act like scientists while learning this content?” Whenever possible I try to introduce a new unit by using some sort of phenomenon. For example, to teach about atomic structure I introduced the unit by using static electricity. Students constructed models, analyzed data they gathered from a simulation, and evaluated and revised their models based on observing the models constructed by their peers. When I am unsure what SEPs to include, I always try to plan my lesson around data – either data that I construct for the students, or data that the students compile. I have found this is the easiest way to ensure my lesson incorporates some sort of SEP and CCC.
Thanks so much for reading! I wish you the best of luck as we head into our second year of NGSS implementation. Please be on the lookout for more NGSS aligned lessons in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
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