When I first started hearing about and learning about NGSS I had some misconceptions. It was easy for me to misunderstand and believe the things I was hearing from others. Unfortunately, there are some myths related to the Next Generation Science Standards. After much research about these “new” standards, I wanted to help clear them up, just in case you were thinking much like I once was.
Myths about the NGSS
Myth # 1 – It’s basically the same thing just with engineering now. Nope. After looking at the standards with a first glance and not fully understanding them, it can appear that way, but it’s much more than just adding engineering to it. As I mentioned in my previous post, Understanding the Next Generation Science Standards, it is about the three dimensions. NGSS is focusing on the core disciplinary ideas (the content), science and engineering practices (Nature of science with engineering), and crosscutting concepts (bridging themes). If you were to just add in the element of engineering, you would really miss out on the point of the entire framework of the NGSS – and the crosscutting concepts. That also brings up my next myth.
Myth # 2 – As long as I teach STEM once in a while, I’ll be fine. Definitely not. Unfortunately, most STEM activities out there don’t even relate the concepts you are teaching in the classroom. They are often just random engineering activities. In a future blog post, I’ll explain more about what a true STEM activity is, but in the meanwhile, understand that implementing STEM is good IF it is used as an application piece of what you are teaching from the NGSS. Even at that, the engineering standards are much more than just “building” something. The engineering piece of the science and engineering practices is to help students begin to think more like an engineer in terms of solving problems. While that can be done in STEM activities, it should also be applied to other areas of the science classroom.
Myth # 3 – I have hands-on activities or inquiry-based activities in my classroom, so I’m already teaching it. Again, many lessons and hands-on activities are written with the best of intentions, but they may not be written with the alignment of NGSS in mind. NGSS is more about exploration and discovery. Additionally, most hands-on activities don’t address the building and testing of explanatory ideas (but instead just test one method or one time, and call it good!).
Myth # 4- It’s the same thing, but with a new name. It’s definitely not equivalent to the scientific method. NGSS places an emphasis on talking and argument in the classroom. Just like common core wants students to cite their evidence and explain their reasoning, students in science need to analyze, discuss and argue their reasoning.
Myth # 5 – The Common Core addresses science. While the common core does have a science standard in it regarding the technical books and reading them, that does not address science. It is addressing the genre of technical studies, such as science. That would not address science concepts, or the nature of science, such as modeling, experimenting or arguing from evidence (the huge emphasis described above). Students need to look at these kinds of texts (per common core) because they are more difficult to read. They are complex in structure, involve extracting information from, and are multimodal. This definitely does not replace the need to teach science as a core subject area.
The Next Generation Science Standards were put into place so that science would move beyond just students memorizing science concepts to students exploring and applying. While your curriculum or materials purchased may appear to be aligned, be careful in assuming they are. To be truly aligned, they have to address all three dimensions and include an element of application. I have a FREE rubric you can download that is from NGSS that can help you determine if a resource is truly aligned or not. You can download it here.