Andi Nelson Andi Nelson

Steven Pruitt Shares the Top 10 Things He Learned about the NGSS at NSTA National Conference Chicago 2015

Posted on May 12, 2015 - 2:12 PM CDT

Tags: High School | Middle School | SMD E/PO Community | Educator

Dr. Stephen Pruitt from Acheive gave a 30 minute keynote speech at the NSTA National conference in Chicago, March 2015.  He has been leading the effort of the development and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. In this keynote, he shares the Top 10 things he learned in workign with and sharing about the NGSS this last year. His engaging message holds good food for thought for those of us who work with educators, and working with them in our resource development and professional development work. The 10 things are:

10) Eliminating the Black Box Is Hard - we are learning to think differently about how we teach science. Its a big shift in what we are used to - but it is much more effective, meaningful, and truthful.

9) Teaching Topics vs Understanding Phenomena - Until now, most science teaching encompasses sharing with students the detached explaination of their world, via a practice of "telling them the What." Understanding phenomena shifts the practice to an active state of answering "What is happening here," that allows students to experience the phenomena across fields, rather than as an isolated idea, creating opportunity to make meaning, rather than follow a prescribed sequence of information. 

8) Simply Reading the NGSS Does Not Lead to NGSS Expertise - In order to best understand the purpose of the NGSS and how it will look in an educator's classroom, it needs to be actively worked with to discover and utilize all its connective threads into a cohesive whole, not read as a manual. 

7) If You Can Eat It, It Is Probably Not a Model - it might be fun, it might be engaging, but it doesnt mean that it will be meaningful, or prevent misconceptions from forming for students. 

6) Cross-Cutting Concepts Are Still the "Third Dimension" - The most misunderstood, yet most powerful, dimension of the NGSS are the Cross-Cutting Concepts. These are the themes that can be found across all sciences, but are also what students use to make sense out of what they are experiencing. Without a concerted effort in addressing and identifying these components with students, their learning will remain "flat," or 2 dimensional, and will not have depth. 

5) Phenomena is Underplayed and Underappreciated - When students understand a phenomenon as a whole, rather than as an isolated topic in a particular science, they will be able to apply their knowledge with much more accuracy and confidence. 

4) Bundling Is Not Easy - "If you try to teach the NGSS one PE [performance expectation] at a time, a) you missed the boat and b) you're never gonna finish. They were developed to be coherent; they were developed to be something that goes together...if it doesnt make sense to you as a teacher, it will never makes sense to the child, actually do have to really think about how this bundle - what does it mean for you?...Units aren't actually going to encapsulate the knowledge, they are going to actually contribute knowledge."

3) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate, and Then Communicate Some More - the public wants to hear most from educators on education. Science teachers are unique in that they actually engage in learning to best serve their classrooms. This does not mean being terminal experts on all things. Only informed. 

2) Leadership Makes a Difference - "As a profession, we often forget we are one." Educators are the ones positioned to best advocate for what is best for students. 

1) 3D Learning Is Hard. We Do Not Help Teachers or Students By Pretending It Is Not. - The effort to implement 3D teaching and learning, regardless of whether a state adopts the standards, could result in better students, and better educated citizens. 

This is only a summary of his words and thoughts. Here his whole speech here.