Hello world. I have been neglecting my blog for far too long and there are no excuses. My plan is to at least put out one new blog each month. That being said, I would like to make this my start, my do over.

I would like to start by talking about my summer experience. This past summer I was allowed to attend the International Marine Conservation Congress in St. Johns Bay, Newfoundland. This is a marine science conference that was one of the most exciting times I have had at a conference. I met some of the most amazing people while I was there like Samantha Oester, Keni Rienks, Edd Hind, David Shiffman, Amy Freitag, Brett Favaro, Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley, Andrew Lewin, Andrew Thaler, Ken Hall, Matt Tietbohl, Vanessa Robetizch, Marianne Teoh and Michelle LaRue (I know there are so many others that I didn’t list here but they are just as awesome!). These are just some of the many fantastic people I was able to meet in real life and some for the first time to make new friends.

My experience at this conference was eye opening. I had the opportunity to talk to so many scientists about what they do, how they use the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in their work. It was definitely worth it! The conversations I had helped me to better understand, to better be able to help my students do what scientists do. My highlight was being able to present a poster and have some great conversations about how I am working with scientists to make connections and impacts with my students. Many times I was able to have conversations that helped me to better understand how the scientists use the nature of science to investigate and do their work.

As a science educator, being able to spend time with practicing scientists was very refreshing. It was a great way to help me professionally better my science skills and knowledge. I hope I was able to make a good impression on many of the scientists that I met that we, science educators, are doing our best to help our students to better understand the process of science.

I am hoping that these new connections and friendships will allow me to keep expanding my professional relationships working with science professionals. These connections will only further help me to better serve my students. One of the neatest things about working with practicing scientists is I get to see how the NGSS is being used in their practice which only helps my students through new opportunities such as virtual talks (Skype) and/or mentorships with science fair projects.

I can’t thank Samantha Oester enough for allowing me to attend and encouraging me to present. It was through her generosity and encouragement that I was able to attend such an awesome science conference and make so many new friends. Thank you.

Currently I am looking forward to the next similar opportunity.

Last school year, my students were able to work with scientists in a variety of ways. I thought that having my students work with experts in their field would be a huge benefit. Many of the students were excited to hear the talks and some even mentioned they had no idea that was an option to study. There were three main ways that my students worked with the scientists, virtual Skype sessions, asynchronous communication (twitter, email, Google Docs) as experts on a certain Performance Expectation and/or as mentors for their science fair projects.

At various points through the school year, I would be able to get a scientist to Skype (I also used Google Hangouts and Zoom) in and talk with my students. These virtual conference calls were not just random talks but would be about a specific task or Performance Expectation. My goal was to find a scientist who was researching in the field that we were investigating at that time in class. Before the talk started, I would talk with the scientist about what my goal was for the conversation but would let them choose the day, time, platform and length of the talk. These talks allowed my students to ask deeper questions to the expert and allow them to see the variety of people who were scientists. My students would look forward to these conversations and did a great job of asking questions. Over the course of the year, each class had at least three virtual talks on a variety of talks from scientists from all over the planet.

The second method would be centered around a specific unit such as ecosystems. When the class was working through this set of PE’s, a variety of ecosystems were used. I was able to find a scientist who was an expert in each of the specific ecosystems. The students would use Google Docs/Twitter/Email to converse with their scientist to help with questions or deeper understanding through their project or investigation. These interactions were fantastic for my students. It made the students think about the types of questions they were asking and how can they use the Cross-Cutting Concepts while in the class. All of the scientists went above and beyond in their interactions with my students.

The last main interaction between my students and a scientist was in a mentorship role. Scientists would act as a mentor to no more than five science fair projects. They would be there for advice, help answer questions about the design and be there if something went wrong. In the first semester we used a software called Acclaim and the second semester we used Google Docs. This coming year I am leaning toward using email and having the students CC me on every email they send. This will be done during class each week since we have access to multiple devices in my room. I would have to say this interaction did make a difference as this is the first year that three of my students made it to state with one winning first in her category.

Getting in touch with the scientists is easier than you think. It takes some time to make those connections but when you do, it opens up a whole new set of experiences for your students and your classroom. Talking with all these scientists has been a fantastic experience for me, professionally and personally. I can’t thank them enough for their time helping my students. Thank you.

If you have any questions about how to do any of this, feel free to email: Patrick.goff@fayette.kyschools.us or find me on twitter @bmsscienceteach. I look forward to hearing from you.

I sit here with a simple question, Why NGSStweeps? Why do I want to put time into another program about NGSS? For me it really comes down to a simple truth. I love the NGSS and what they stand for in science education. I look forward to the #ngsschat each time. That chat helps invigorate me, pump me back up and get ready to go at it again! After each chat though, I’m like, we only get one hour? I could keep it up for a lot longer. I know there are amazing things going on out there with some amazing people leading the way. We need avenues to share these amazing stories along with our challenges and difficulties.

As a science nerd, I follow @realscientists, @astrotweeps and @biotweeps on twitter. I LOVE those accounts! It has been through those accounts that I have found some of the most fantastic folks to work with and help my students. Following those accounts got me to thinking? Why can’t we have a feed like that for science education, and specifically NGSS? I know there are folks out there who could easily fill a weeks worth of time about what it is they are doing. We need to share these stories. We need to share our adventure in implementation. I have heard it from many people that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I think this account can reach a wide audience and be a help to many of us. I think this can be a great tool for online PD as a sounding board, share a thon, idea generator and a great way to expand your PLC. I am excited to help this project move forward.

With all that being said, I talked about this idea with some of my online PLC friends (@vogelwendi, @tcmssciteach, @jaclyn_austin, @tdsull0518, @KRScienceLady) early this year and we decided to give it a go. We decided to form the admin team and see if we could get this project off the ground. Everyone felt this was a great idea and an excellent way to help teachers see what was happening in various NGSS classrooms across the country. We were able to break up the construction of the website, twitter site, emails and publicizing the account. It was truly a team effort to get this account off the ground. At NSTA16, we went live with it during the #ngsschat hour and the excitement was there for sure.

Currently, we have at least 16 people who have agreed to take a week, from elementary all the way through university instructors. I believe this will be a great mix of educators and will really give us a great chance to share and collaborate in a more in depth fashion. Our first week was handled by Taylor Sullivan and she did a wonderful job of showcasing her class. By sharing her work, thoughts and students with us, everyone who watched that week was able to walk away with a good idea of how she implements NGSS and what her students are able to produce.

If this sounds of interest to you, stay tuned for more details and please give @NGSS_tweeps a follow.

Over the last few months, maybe a year at this point, I have had the honor of talking and learning from Dr. Samantha Oester. She has been a wonderful mentor to both myself and my daughter, great to talk to and get to know, and willing to help my students out. I have learned so much from following her on Twitter that I can’t thank her enough. She isn’t the only scientist that I can say this about but that would be for another blog story. This story centers around a little observation I made following her. After getting to talk with Dr. Oester for awhile, I was invited to join #hearttheoceans movement, a movement to help bring awareness to the importance of the oceans. I wanted to do something for that but wasn’t sure what I could do, especially being in landlocked Kentucky! Well, I had noticed that Dr. Oester and Dr.Januchowski-Hartley had been writing conservation minded Haikus. I figured, my students could watch a part of a the Life Series episode on Fish from the Discovery Channel and then write their own haiku’s. So I asked both Dr. Oester and Dr. Januchowski-Hartley if I could use a couple of theirs as examples (which they both graciously said yes). Now at this point, if you thought 8th graders would think this was dumb, some did, but others took it as a chance to shine and be creative. I posted the best ones to twitter and if you want to read them (please do and let me know which one you liked) go to #conservationhaiku and mine are by my account name @bmsscienceteach. I am proud of what my students did and will try to get another activity like this in the mix for later. It was a fun and different way to let my kids express themselves. Thanks for listening and as always, I am open to feedback!

A quick overview of an idea I am working on for an upcoming Ecosystem Unit. A large portion of the PE is to construct an argument that changes in an ecosystem affect the population and to evaluate possible design solutions to maintain biodiversity. To this end, I planning on having the students work in small groups and investigate an ecosystem. I could do the traditional research and present of their findings. I could, but I’m not. The big twist, has been to recruit a number of scientists who are willing to help act as experts in their selected ecosystem. There has been an overwhelming amount of support to help my students which is very humbling. They are willing to communicate with my students through twitter, skype or google hangouts, and through Google Docs. I have had scientists volunteer to help from around the United States, Peru, England, France and even Saudi Arabia! I am super pumped about this project. The big ideas are getting firmed up, now to move on to the little ideas, firm up the use of the Science and Engineering Practices and Cross-Cutting Concepts in an intentional manner.

Over the summer I had an idea on how to upgrade the science fair process for my students. There were many parts that I changed but the biggest, and one of my favorite was to get practicing scientists to help mentor my students. The mentors were there to offer advice, ask questions, prod and challenge my students through their process. I can now say, I know it helped. You may ask how do I know? Well I could say that the projects were of an overall better quality than before. More importantly, I can point to the fact that of the 7 students I sent to the district fair, 5 of them earned a medal and are moving on to the Regional Science Fair.

I want to thank the scientists that took their time to help. That took time from their jobs, family, personal time to help my students. I can not thank you enough for your help. I know it helped my students. I know they appreciated your help.

Thank you.

The mini-task my students have undertaken is centered around the following PE: 08-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects. Previous to what I am about to describe the students completed an infographic on a particular Natural Hazard of their choosing. Students were looking at data and developed this infographic to help inform people about the likelihood of another occurrence. Part of that was a Google Hangout with an earthquake specialist out of Colorado who helped talk with students about forecasting earthquakes.

In this mini-task (phenomena was damage from natural hazards) the students were asked to look at current technologies (warning plans, prevention, detection, recovery and so on) to help mitigate the effects of the Natural Hazard they had investigated. Once they have done research, they were asked to make an innovation and predict where the technology might be in 20 years. Students are in the process of developing a model (could be a physical model or could be a technical drawing). We are not done with this mini-task yet but some of the ideas are pretty darn interesting they are coming up.

Example: A student is investigating avalanches. She has proposed to develop a wrist band that would be handed out to all skiers by a ski resort. This wrist band would have GPS tech embedded in it with the capability to receive text alerts from the resort. The resort would be able to track all skiers in case of an avalanche, warn the skiers, and if rescue is needed, help pinpoint with better accuracy where the skiers were when the avalanche hit.

Example: A student is investigating hurricanes. He was very interested in the hurricane hunter planes and found out they drop on average 30 sensor packages per storm. He found out they were a one use tool and thought that was wasteful so for his innovation, he is looking to make them recoverable and waterproof.

My question at this point, does this mini-task embrace the 3 Dimensional approach NGSS asks for in the teaching? My thoughts are this: Are the students learning content? Sure. Are they engaging in the Science and Engineering Practices? They are asking questions, developing models, analyzing data, designing solutions, and engaging in arguments from evidence. Are they engaging in the Cross Cutting Concepts? They have to look at Cause and Effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity and Systems and System models.

I really want to make this task work. It has grabbed their attention and I have student buy in on this one. What do you all think? Good, bad, ugly? What could be done to improve it?