Over the last 2 years, I have been implementing a few simple ingredients from the Next Generation Science Standards. This year I am going to make a much bigger jump into the standards. For those who are not familiar with the NGSS, a major goal behind it is to help students think like a scientist, do science, and figure things out. Here is a list as to what thinking like a scientist, doing science, and figuring things out looks like. This list is called Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms. (Image from http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions Dimension 1: Practices)
These practices are also the type of skills that are needed to think critically and could even define the term, critical thinking.
I also plan to use Cross Cutting Concepts (Dimension 2) of science and engineering. These concepts are:
- Patterns. Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.
- Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.
- Scale, proportion, and quantity. In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
- Systems and system models. Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.
- Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.
- Structure and function. The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.
- Stability and change. For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.
(The list above was taken from http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions Dimension 1: Crosscutting Concepts.)
I have dreamed of leading my students to become critical thinkers and science literate. This is the path I will follow to achieve my goal. Good or bad, the plan is to reflect often and share progress, obstacles, triumphs, and failures.
– If I make the time. 🙂