Now that the next generation science standards (NGSS) have been released, about half the states have adopted them. The missing element seems to be staff development. Because these new standards go way beyond content to address the very methodologies of education, it seems essential that all teachers have the support they need to implement the new standards. According to a recent article in the journal Science (vol. 340, p. 1391, 21 June, 2013), while 83% of science teachers think NGSS will improve learning, only 38% think they will get the training they need.
Now if the only thing that changed was the order of existing content, this wouldn’t be a problem. But these standards go way beyond that. For example, Engineering is now specified as a K-12 subject – a field that teachers in general need to know more about.
In general, the standards move us from nouns to verbs – to activities students explore to enhance their understanding of core concepts. For example, the standards state, with reference to the application of math in science: “Emphasis is on assessing students’ use of mathematical thinking and not on memorization and rote application of problem-solving techniques.”
Now at first glance, coming off a generation of NCLB-driven education, this shift is overwhelming. In fact it is delightful – provided teachers get the support they need. This support can take many forms, but our own approach is to engage educators in hands-on experiences that enhance learning and rekindle the joy that drove teachers into education in the first place.
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