A misconception that sometimes floats around about standards—whether they’re the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, or otherwise—is that they should be taught one-by-one, in the order that they’re written.
In truth, as most teachers and anyone who has tried to write curriculum knows, standards are goals that just need to be learned by the end of the school year. Teachers can do this through whatever methods, and in whatever order, works best.
But figuring out what works best is quite hard to do. Achieve, the group that spearheaded the development of the Next Generation Science Standards, recently released examples for how to “bundle” the science standards, or group them together to create units that make sense for instruction.
“Bundles of standards can be helpful to show connections between ideas, facilitate phenomenon-driven instruction, and promote efficient use of instructional time,” says the guide that goes with the sample bundles, which were written for curriculum developers and K-12 teachers.
For instance, as the guide shows, instead of teaching the kindergarten standards like this, one after another (and likely running out of time before getting to all the standards):
... teachers may want to bundle standards like this:
In the above model, the year’s worth of instruction is divided into three units. In that first unit, lasting about 14 weeks, students learn all about what plants and animals need to survive. That single unit touches on six different standards. (The blue boxes indicate the standard is only partially met in that unit, and will be repeated in a subsequent unit.)
For middle and high school, the Achieve examples divide the standards into possible courses. That may be especially helpful because, as written, the NGSS document doesn’t separate the middle and high school standards by grade or course title.
As Achieve points out, the samples provided are supposed to be helpful, not restrictive. “They are by no means the only way that standards could be bundled together, but they are designed to be illustrative of the process of bundling and the types of thinking necessary in building bundles that capitalize on the connections between standards,” the guide states.
Many teachers say they still lack resources for the science standards, so perhaps this will spur publishers and other curriculum developers along in creating aligned materials.
- Video Interview: Understanding the Next Generation Science Standards
- Eight Things to Know About the Next Generation Science Standards
- Next Generation Science Standards: What Do Lessons Look Like?
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.