We are now three days into our school year. These days have been filled with beginning to build those student/teacher relationships, collecting forms, fees, handing out information and all of the beginning of the school year information. I sent home an email to all my parents before school started with my syllabus and safety contract. This was done to get the communication going early and to squeeze a few extra moments in the classroom. I am big proponent of getting that communication going with the parents and students early and often. It just helps out so much down the road during the year.

Well, how is the NGSS implementation going so far? Slow but good. Our grade level met and had a good discussion about an activity and how to better push the SEP within it. We disagreed on some points, agreed on others, laughed at some of our ideas and then settled on one activity that we all are going to give a go. We all agree that it probably is not where we want it, but we decided to give it a rip and analyze after as to what will we change.

Personally, I wanted to begin working on helping my students ask better questions. Questioning is the First Practice listed in Appendix F of the NGSS. I started with two of my classes just to see how it would go. My idea was this:
1) explain to them why I was starting with questioning
2) explain that the system had been stacked for the teacher to ask questions and students answer them
3) explain that unfortunately, most students were not asking high level, probing questions based on careful observation of phenomena
4) that we were going to really focus in on this during the school year
5) that I am guilty also of asking rather low level questions but I am working on it with them

I did get stuck when I started thinking of how would I track the questions my students are asking. After a bit, I settled on a simple way. The students would, periodically, write down a question or two on a note card with their name on it. The questions might be about a short scenario watched or an experiment or an article they just read. Random questions will be pulled (no names) and put on a list. Once we have our list, as a class we will look at the questions and kind of use the grade bands to determine where the questions are falling. We will also try to help model high level questioning for the students to help them here in the beginning. I am also thinking that on every assessment I give, each student will have to write a question they have about a scenario, experiment or something they have investigated or witnessed during class.

This is going to be a great year and I so pumped. I feel reinvigorated to get back in the classroom, to tackle these new standards. I know I will make mistakes and fall down this year. I also know that I will learn from those mistakes, learn from my colleagues and apply them to correct the issues.

To end this, how is everyone else working on implementing or helping our students with this first practice? I would love to hear from a bunch of others!! Let’s get this conversation rolling. Now it’s your turn!