NGSS – Shifting Mindset and Practice: Distinguishing Between Unit Design and Unit Execution

1. State the focus of the workshop and its relevance to the science teacher education.
Despite the growing familiarity with the “new” science standards, there are still uncertainties around what 3-Dimensional (3D) instruction actually looks like in the classroom and how to create units accordingly. The answer to these uncertainties is multi-faceted and tied directly to teachers’ understanding of the dimensions, their planning process, and how specific teaching strategies can be used to support 3D Learning. In our work with school districts, we have developed tools to help stakeholders realize the connections among the three dimensions and pedagogy that matches the implementation of 3D learning in classrooms. In the session, participants will consider how a clear delineation between execution and development of units can aid in their success on both fronts. They will be provided the space to consider best practice and be exposed to two tools that will help them create and execute 3D units.

2. Explain who within the ASTE membership would be most interested in your presentation (e.g., methods instructors, educational researchers, curriculum developers, etc.) and why.
In-service teachers, teacher educators, and curriculum developers might be interested in our presentation. We will be providing two tools to use when designing and implementing NGSS-aligned lessons. This can help teachers envision a method for planning units and a method for executing lessons, as well as delineate the difference between the two. This can help curriculum developers effectively design units of instruction. This can provide teacher educators with one way in which to approach PD support around unit development and execution with their participants.

3. Describe the expertise/experience of the workshop presenters to present in the topic area.
Martha Inouye is a Research Scientist and science PD specialist in the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center at the University of Wyoming. Prior to her current position, she taught at both the middle and high school levels. She completed an M.S. in Natural Science Education, during which time she conducted research on and facilitate PD pertaining to the NGSS. As a research scientist, Martha has also been facilitating k-12 science PD, specifically with regard to the development, implementation, and dissemination of NGSS-aligned curricular materials and pedagogical strategies, with Dr. Ana Houseal.

Dr. Ana Houseal is the Outreach Science Educator and an Associate Professor in the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center at the University of Wyoming. As a former teacher, she has experience design, executing, and evaluating middle-level science units and knows the challenges that come with classroom teaching and shifts in teaching expectations. As part of her PhD research, she worked with the National Park Service in Yellowstone to design and implement a curriculum. Ana has also spent the last seven years facilitating K-12 science PD around the state of Wyoming, specifically with regard to the development, implementation, and dissemination of NGSS-aligned curricular materials and pedagogical strategies.

4. List the learning objectives of the workshop and how you will assess whether participants met those objectives.
a) Participants will be able to describe the difference between unit design and unit execution
i. Assess: Participants will complete an electronic exit ticket at the end of the workshop asking them to describe the differences between the two, and questions they have.
b) Participants will engage in a modified unit as “students” and then a guided session as “unit developers” and make connections to their own settings.
i. Assess: Through the use of formative assessment tasks such as “Silent conversations” and reflective journaling, participants will provide feedback on their understanding of the mini-units.
ii. Assess: Connections to participants’ own settings will be shared both in small groups and publicly. These will be added to the website materials.

5. Provide a description of the workshop activities/ instructional strategies you will be using to meet the objectives.
To create a unit storyline that is 3-Dimensional and coherent throughout requires foresight, planning, and an intimate knowledge of the content and phenomenon you seek to target. How do we create a general flow that helps us plan more efficiently while sparking student curiosity? How can this flow help us maintain coherence during the entire unit while helping students make sense of the world? How do the steps for planning a coherent storyline differ from the execution of that storyline? The answer to these questions will be explored and a simple, yet powerful, process will be introduced to assist teachers, instructional facilitators, and curriculum directors create aligned, meaningful units. In this workshop, participants will discover this process through video examples and activities and be shown how to make the transition to NGSS units with coherent storylines easier and more impactful. Initially, participants will discuss and respond to a prompt that will allow us to gauge their prior knowledge about the components of an NGSS-aligned unit. After, they will engage in a mini-unit that models the process of a storyline and provides a common experience for all participants. Then, they will experience guided instruction on developing a mini-unit with another phenomenon. Finally, we will explore the difference in the two processes and reflect on ways in which these will be useful in their own settings.

6. Describe how you will make yourself available/offer support to the participants for continuing their learning and collaboration after they return to their home institutions.
Participants will have access to a website with resources from our presentation, a forum with which to communicate, and contact information with which to send queries. In addition, an FAQ page and Connections page will be created for the website based on the exit ticket questions and discussions.