Clunk! Swish! Tong… TONG! These are the sounds participants in the KCI NGSS Program hear as they bump ordinary clothes hangers, connected to short pieces of string, against
different surfaces in the classroom. After two minutes of self-directed exploration, the students are “hooked” by this phenomenon! Questions begin to form: Why are the sounds so different? How does the sound move through the string? What will happen if we use plastic hangers?
The simple “Hanger and String” activity is the kind of experience that NGSS asks teachers to use in their classrooms.Rather than starting with a lecture on sound theory, NGSS challenges teachers to start with a real-world phenomenon. Once students are engaged, they can formulate questions and use authentic science and engineering practices to explore their questions and explain their findings.
KCI‘s NGSS Program inspires teachers to actively engage students in hands-on,inquiry-based science. The program immerses teachers in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) practice lessons, which embody the teaching strategies and science content required by the new standards. Teachers gain a deeper understanding of the NGSS, and leave this five-day program feeling better prepared to make the transition to the new standards.
The program focuses on three components of NGSS: Anchoring Phenomena; the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs); and student-driven inquiry (5 Es: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate). During each day of the program, we engage teachers in real NGSS lessons. Each practice lesson connects a science and engineering practice to a step in the 5E process. To reach all teachers, we select practice lessons that span multiple grades. Similarly, we have chosen practice lessons that cover all four NGSS disciplines (life science, earth science, physical science, and engineering). Participants have time for “Reflection and Implementation,” allowing them to collaborate, find ways to apply what they have learned, and plan lessons to implement in their classrooms.
To measure impact, KCI surveys participants pre- and post-program. In the two summer programs, incoming participants arrived with little or no experience teaching NGSS. On a 1-5 scale, the latest cohort rated their overall knowledge of NGSS as 2.4 (not very familiar). After the program, respondents moved up 1.4 levels to “moderately familiar.” When reflecting on their understanding of the 5E instructional model, respondents moved up almost two levels, and they also moved up almost two levels in their confidence applying the eight Science and Engineering Practices.
Teachers enjoyed the program, mentioning the welcoming atmosphere and freedom to ask questions, time to organize their thoughts and focus, and the many resources provided. One teacher commented, “I liked the hands-on projects—we got to be students and actually experience what they would do/feel/learn during a lesson.” Another stated, “I feel I can jump into NGSS this year. Before I was afraid of the complexity of the new standards. Now I feel ready to do it.” KCI’s NGSS Program can jumpstart standard readiness in any school or district.
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