Introducing Preservice Teachers to the NGSS

Preservice teachers need to become familiar with the research base that informs the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and its underlying goals and assumptions as outlined in the Framework for K12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). However, preservice teachers may struggle to make personal meaning of this information and how it applies to practice (Ricketts, 2014). The goals of reform can be hard for novice teachers to comprehend, and without this understanding they may implement instruction that differs from the intent of reforms (Lynch, 1997). Therefore, prospective teachers must understand both content and structure of the NGSS, as well as how to adjust their teaching practice to meet the intent of these reforms (Reiser, 2013; Windschitl, Schwarz, & Passmore, 2014). Recommendations in the literature (cf. Hanuscin & Zangori, 2016) suggest that preservice teachers need (1) deep understanding of content; (2) understanding of the NGSS and Framework; (3) images of the NGSS in action; and (4) opportunities to plan, enact, and reflect on NGSS-aligned instruction.

This 1.5 hour workshop will focus on helping teacher educators, and specifically elementary science methods instructors, explore ways to introduce the NGSS to preservice elementary teachers. This will be an introductory-level workshop for instructors who are seeking ways to introduce preservice teachers to the standards initially, and support preservice teachers’ understanding of the NGSS and its underlying pedagogical implications, which is but one of the four recommendations for addressing the NGSS in teacher education.

In reflection of effective teaching and learning, the workshop will follow the 5E Learning Cycle:

Engage: [10 minutes]
Attendees will turn and talk with a partner about how they have incorporated the NGSS into their science methods courses and the benefits and challenges of these strategies, followed by a whole group discussion.

Attendees will participate in a series of ‘mock’ learning experiences/tasks used in our methods courses and will debrief each of these to draw insights about the types of learning they afford. We will draw on our respective experiences to share the ideas that preservice teachers bring to these learning experiences, the challenges they encounter in learning about the NGSS, and the insights they gain during the activities. Facilitators will also share their ‘next steps’ following implementing each of these activities in their methods courses.

Task #1: Is it in the NGSS? [15 minutes]
Participants will experience a learning activity in which prospective teachers draw on their science autobiographies to identify science topics and experiences from their own elementary years. They then investigate the NGSS to see whether these will be part of the science they will teach their own students.

Task #2: Then and Now [15 minutes]
Participants will experience a learning activity in which prospective teachers compare the state standards under which they were educated to the new standards, identify important differences, and the implications of those for instruction.

Task #3: Three Dimensional Card Sort [15 minutes]
Participants will participate in an activity in which prospective teachers write on a post-it note their most memorable learning experience as a science learner. On the board, there are three sheets of paper, an orange (for DCI), a blue (for SEP), and a green (for CC). However, the prospective teachers do not know what the colors represent. As the prospective teachers share, if “doing science” is emphasized in their memory, the methods instructor has them put their post-it note on the blue sheet. If their memory focuses heavily on learning content, they put their post-it note on orange, etc. After all cards are posted, they infer the different foci of each color and we use these to introduce the 3 Dimensions of the NGSS.

Task #4: Snapshots of Practice [15 minutes]
Participants will experience an activity in which methods students complete a card sort of two-three-sentence classroom learning “snapshots”. They then identify the Science and Engineering Practices in which learners are engaged in the snapshot and/or the Science and Engineering Practices the teacher could emphasize as a part of instruction. Discussion post-activity focuses on the role of the teacher in making student engagement in the practices explicit, and often the apparent “overlap” between the practices.

Extend: [20 minutes]
Attendees will work in small groups to develop a plan for their science methods course as presenters visit small groups to offer guidance.

Evaluate: [post-workshop]
Attendees will complete the ASTE workshop evaluation, but will also provide feedback to the facilitators via Google forms. The form will address participants’ perception of whether they met each objective (see next section) and provide a space for open-ended remarks. Facilitators will evaluate the workshop based on this feedback, but also on analysis of the materials developed and shared by participants via Google Drive.

The objectives are as follows:
1.) Identify the implications the NGSS for the elementary science methods courses in their respective context.
2.) Develop awareness of preservice elementary teachers’ prior knowledge, learning difficulties, and concerns regarding the NGSS.
3.) Analyze strategies used to introduce the NGSS into elementary science methods courses by experiencing these strategies as a learner.
4.) Create plans that incorporate the NGSS into science methods courses.

We will use Google Drive to create a folder of shared resources and materials to which participants can continue to add. This shared space will provide opportunities for ongoing exchange of ideas about how to support preservice teacher learning about the NGSS. Our ultimate goal would be to connect with other methods instructors for the purposes of submitting articles to Innovations in Science Teacher Education and eventually drafting a proposal for a new ASTE monograph.

Both novice teacher educators (new faculty, graduate students, or faculty who lack experience with elementary science) who need support as they develop their PCK for teaching elementary teachers and veteran teacher educators who need support updating their knowledge and skills in light of the NGSS can benefit from this workshop. We hope that attendees will be contributors to the workshop as much as learners.

The facilitators involved in this session have been professional collaborators for over 7 years, and each teach in different university settings, both geographically and in terms of institution type, and calendar (semester/quarter). Over the years they have learned a great deal from sharing their practice with each other and hope to do the same with participants!

Deborah Hanuscin is a former elementary teacher and Professor of Science Education at Western Washington University. She has 18 years of experience teaching elementary science methods and was a 2014 ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator. She has authored numerous articles on elementary science teacher education, and is co-author of the book Designing and Teaching the Elementary Science Methods Course.

Morgan Presley currently teaches in the Biology and Education departments at Drury University. She interned with Dr. Hanuscin in elementary science methods and elementary science teacher professional development. She has been teaching elementary science methods for 1 year, along with 2 years experience teaching content and field experience seminars to preservice elementary teachers.

Tiffany Hill is an Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Emporia State University. She was trained to teach elementary science methods under the direction of Dr. Hanuscin, through a course titled Designing and Teaching the Science Methods Course and an internship in her elementary science methods course. She currently teaches elementary science methods and supervises students in their concurrent student teaching internship. Prior to her work at the university-level, she was an elementary classroom teacher.

Jeni Davis is a former elementary teacher and an Assistant Professor at Salisbury University. She has taught over 10 sections of elementary science methods in the past seven years, beginning with Dr. Hanuscin at the University of Missouri. While teaching the science methods course, Jeni concurrently worked as a content-focused coach for preservice teachers as job-embedded professional development during their field experience.

No cost required for participants. Presenters need access to a projector and internet during the session in order to allow participants to access resources online.
Participation will be limited by room capacity.