Well, it’s been a bit since I have been on here. Let’s see what comes out.

It is the beginning of July and I am finally feeling like I can get back into the swing of things with planning for the school year. This is going to be a difficult year to plan for with the Next Generation Science Standards coming on board. By this time before, I would have had the first semester pretty well planned out and ready to roll. Now, I’m lucky to have the first two days. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic to be in this position. I’ve been waiting for this since I heard the news they were rewriting the standards.

For me, what this means, is that we are moving from a test driven set of science standards that were aimed at memorization to a set of true science standards that are going to get at the hear of the process of science. This process will be difficult to measure using the traditional paper and pencil test. That is a whole different discussion. What I am struggling with is how do I use the new standards as the minimum, which they are written as, and get at the process of science and not fall back in to the memorization trap?

One thing that has helped me is that I was lucky enough to be chosen to be part of the Design and Development team for my county to work with the NGSS. Our job was to try and make sense of the big picture information and lay it out to best help our teachers. We focused on the middle school level first. The group that came together represented a variety of schools but we all had one thing in common, we are science nerds who want what is best for our students. That desire showed through quickly in our meetings as we were dubbed the Nerdy Nine (we still plan on getting T-shirts).

Through those meetings, we wrestled with the standards, argued with each other and helped each other out to understand. It was a fantastic feeling to be able to put an idea out there and have our group talk it out. Some ideas we kept, others we tossed. Our group leader was really fantastic at letting us take the conversation where it lead and not directing us to do what he thought was the right idea. That has been the best group of professionals I have ever had the privilege of working with and can’t wait for this fall to keep working together.

During one of our meetings, we started saying how we really need to get the district science middle level teachers to talk more with each other. It is time to get people out of isolation. Isolation is not how we are going to move forward. From there, we said it would be nice to get us together to talk about how to start planning the daily activities around our new topics. Then it morphed into, why don’t we get a couple schools together to, hey, let’s invite the whole county! We said sure, we can put together a meeting to help out our folks so we sent the email out, only expecting about 20-30 to actually want to do this summer meeting. Well, 72 signups later, we saw there was a desire for help.

That’s it for now and I see where my next blog entry is going. A discussion of our summer science institute.

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