A Look Back
As we move into the second half of the 2017-2018 school year, I want to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come. The average science teacher only began learning about the NGSS just a few years ago and school districts have been slow to figure out how to train and support science teachers during this transition. I began writing curriculum and supporting teachers with this website out of necessity. There were very few examples online of high quality NGSS-aligned curriculum and teachers were anxious about being asked to align their curriculum without the proper training. They were also frustrated that they were being asked to become curriculum writers on top of their very full time job.
As a digital learning coach, my job was to help teachers innovate their curriculum using technology and to help develop skills in providing engaging instructional strategies. However, I have always been an advocate for the student who is different and differentiation has always been at the forefront of my work. So, I developed a model for differentiating that also helped teachers make other pedagogical shifts to a more mastery-based approach to learning. The four-part learning progression model has worked well in providing systems to introduce and revisit phenomenon, use self and peer assessment to revise and improve student work, and building skills in empowering students and valuing student choice. The lessons on this website have helped many teachers transition to the NGSS and you all have done an amazing job with also transitioning to new student-centered instructional practices at the same time.
I will be finishing up the Unit 2 lessons and sharing this model and learning journey one more time at the NSTA National Conference in Atlanta on Friday, March 16th at 3:30 pm (Georgia World Congress Center, A303). I will also be video taping the session and adding it to this website for those who can not make the conference. However, when I return from Atlanta, I want to begin adjusting Units 3 and 4 to incorporate all of the new things I am learning as I have taken on some new roles with National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
Cari Williams is a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for the Tustin Unified School District in Southern California. She holds a MS in Instructional Design and Technology from Cal State Fullerton and works on the side as a consultant writing science and STEAM curriculum and training teachers. After working for 12 years in the classroom as a middle school science and STEAM teacher, she transitioned into the role of Digital Learning Coach in 2013. In this role, Cari helped teachers innovate curriculum and shift pedagogies through the integration of educational technologies. Her most current work as a TOSA is focused on engineering design in robotics, computer science, and Makerspaces. She is an official VEX Robotics event partner hosting tournaments for teams from around Southern California as well as leading 28 robotics programs servicing over 100 teams in the Tustin Unified School District. Although her expertise has taken her deep into STEAM education, she remains passionate and engaged in helping teachers transition to the NGSS through participating as a Science Peer Review Panelist for Achieve and as a Professional Learning Facilitator for NSTA.