2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 9-7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM



, olds@unavco.org

In recent years, there has been much buzz about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Combining the three dimensions of scientific and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts, the NGSS creates a framework to improve student achievement and student understanding of scientific processes and ideas. The NGSS represents a shift in approach in which students not only learn core ideas within a scientific domain, they also become cognizant that their learning reflects the practices of scientists and engineers. Additionally, concepts that crosscut all disciplines such as patterns, cause and effect, and systems and system models, are emphasized as being present in all scientific and engineering fields. Through learning activities, K-12 students therefore become scientists engaged in the practice of science and are exploring and deepening their understanding of the world through scientific practices.

For over ten years, UNAVCO, a National Science Foundation funded Earth Science Geodetic Facility, has developed a suite of data-rich, classroom-ready activities and lessons free to educators and the public. A primary focus is on strategically broadening the use of geodetic and other data in educational environments so that students can authentically discover underlying concepts of Earth science such as plate tectonics, tectonic deformation, and volcanoes.

These data-centric investigations naturally lend themselves to the NGSS and the three dimensions of alignment. However, the process of articulating three-dimensional alignment within lesson plans is not an instantaneous transformation. The philosophical shift underlying NGSS goes beyond displaying an alignment table in the teacher’s guide. To truly embrace the spirit of NGSS, materials need to be modified and enhanced to articulate and embed the relevant scientific practices and crosscutting concepts into the instructional sequence, cueing teachers to point out these dimensions during their teaching practice, and blending these concepts into student assessments.

We will share the successes and challenges of aligning existing activities with the NGSS and next steps to further enhance the quality of the lessons through rubric assessment.