In Kentucky, we now have to set a Student Growth Goal (SGG) for the year as part of our overall evaluation process. My goal dealt with the NGSS Practice of modeling, specifically the 8th grade rubric that was developed this past fall. A bit of history here to put this in context. This past fall, our district science coordinator pulled science teachers from elementary, middle and high school together over six or seven spread out days to develop K-12 rubrics for the NGSS Practices, which we call Enduring Skills. It was our task to take a practice and develop a logical flow K-12. Details on that may end up in another blog post later. Now, back to present. My department decided to pick one practice and that was Modeling. In our rubrics, it basically boiled down to the following:

1) 6th grade – how to develop a model for science

2) 7th grade – how to use that model to explain a phenomena

3) 8th grade – how to explain limitations and merits of a model

With all that being said, in September I gave my class the baseline test of the three different models (a graph, an image, and a lab experiment). The answers given were awful, but not surprising. They had never really been asked to think like this before about the models they were using or developing. I saw answers from the font is ugly to the line isn’t straight to the copy is to light. It was then I decided every time we do anything that can be considered a model to ask the students to analyze the limitations and merits of it. As the semester wore on, I could see and hear a difference. A couple weeks ago I gave my mid-year check. This time the answers were much improved. I saw answers more in line with “the label on the axis is not explicit enough”, “this graph is able to be extended to help its predictive ability”, “an added paragraph at the bottom would better help the reader to understand”, “there should be a title so the reader isn’t guessing”. I asked the students how they felt after taking this one and there was a resounding, we feel better about it. So of course I asked why. The response was because we were working on it regularly through the year. It was good to see but still is not where it needs to be. Plus, now I have to figure out how to give that much attention to all the other NGSS Practices. Man this is tough!

Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome for sure!!

Thanks for helping out folks.