This tool can help you evaluate your own current practices regarding NGSS-aligned three dimensional instruction. It can also be used in planning to ensure that you are incorporating the Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts regularly throughout your unit activities.
*This tool is one part of How To Integrate Science and Engineering Practices (NGSS Strategy Bundle)
. If you have purchased the bundle, please do not purchase this tool. It has been included.
The NGSS reflect how science is done in the real world by intertwining three dimensions: Scientific and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.
For many years, we have been teaching science with a focus on the content (in NGSS language, this would be a focus on the Disciplinary Core Ideas). Our state standards described what students should know, and our lessons taught those facts and ideas. This model doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did). Why? First, Google. Yep, just Google. Why should a student memorize the characteristics of various minerals, when you can just Google them? Second, who cares? Unless you’re going to become a geologist, you probably won’t need to remember what color streak pyrite leaves.
Wouldn’t it be better if our students, instead, focused on understanding how matter cycled? And how that mineral they’re holding there was once part of a different rock? That the energy they learned about in their physical science class powered the changes in matter they explored in chemistry to create the new rocks they were examining in earth science? And what if they could devise a test to determine what type of mineral it is using their knowledge of chemical reactions? What if they could then use their data to support their conclusion?
In the above examples, you can see evidence of both content AND skills -- or in NGSS language, practices. The NGSS specifically integrates Science and Engineering Practices with the content. I.E. You should NOT be teaching “the scientific method” or even “science inquiry” independent of relevant content. And you SHOULD be adding engineering into the mix.
By integrating the three dimensions, you are adding authenticity to your curriculum and a rationale for learning by demonstrating how it is all really interconnected. Moreover, you are giving students the time and opportunity to practice these skills and develop these understandings over and over. Finally, you are giving students a taste of what science looks like in the real world. Science is a lot more engaging when you are learning it the right way. This tool can help you implement one piece of that puzzle.
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