At last, Unit 1 for each grade level are complete! Over the past five months, I have been editing and revising the learning progressions found in Unit 1 of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade curriculum. At first, I thought this might be a relatively easy task since the majority of the research, brainstorming, and designing of the lessons had already been done. But I soon realized that revising the learning progressions takes just about as much time as it did to write each one the first time.
One reason for this is that we have continued to learn and improve our teaching and grading practices through the lens of the vision presented in the NGSS framework since first implementing the four-part learning progression model. The parts of each learning progression are more deeply connected to the anchoring phenomenon and teachers are learning how to use student questions to help drive the mini-lessons they implement between the parts. The rubrics have evolved into thorough peer/self-review checklisks to help guide student learning and new mastery/standards-based rubrics have been created to help teachers evaluate essential learnings and help students refelct on three dimensional learning.
As a member of the Science Peer Review Panel for Achieve, we have been trained to complete the EQuIP rubric by looking for evidence of the bullet point “elements” found in the appendices of the NGSS framework; Appendix F: SEPs and Appendix G: CCCs. This practice helped me to incorporate the appropriate grade-band elements into the mastery/standards-based rubrics found within the 4-part learning progression curriculum. My hope is that identifying these elements for each part will help students and teachers better understand the interconnectedness of the three dimensions that should be occuring during the learning process and demonstrated within student products.
I have also included ideas and resources for mini-lessons and additional supports for struggling students within the teacher direction documents. My intention here is to help teachers understand that there is more to the learning progressions than the four parts. It is an expectation that additional mini-lessons, hands-on activities, and supports will be provided along the way to meet the specific needs of students and their classroom.
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.