I have gotten home from the 2015 National Science Teachers Association Conference in Chicago. It was a fantastic conference, well run and well attended. I did not go this year for content, instead I went to learn as much as I could about how to better meet the spirit of the Next Generation Science Standards.

To that end, I have so many thoughts running around in my head that I am just going to start listing and talking about them below in no particular order:

1) Where we are in KY? Kentucky seems to be out front in development and implementation. Not that we are light years ahead, but we are doing some great things when it comes to NGSS and I heard that from more than one person. I feel we are on the right path, not where we need to be, but on the right path. My class is not a NGSS class yet, but I am trying and will get there sooner rather than later because it is what is best for my students! I am so excited to be teaching science right now.

2) NGSS is what is right for students. These new standards, if properly implemented and given time, will greatly improve science education in our students which will spill over into a more science literate public. A more science literate public will lead to a better overall country. This will take time, training and patience. The science community and industry are behind this plan and are willing to help, so ask. I did and now have plenty of folks who are willing to help.

3) NGSS implementation – What a great session! I learned a lot here. Dr. Stephen Pruitt did a great job breaking this down for us. We need to focus on major phenomena that address the overall PE’s we have to teach in our grade level and then not worry about just teaching physics or biology, but worry about teaching good science. We must the Cross-cutting concepts, Science and Engineering Practices and Disciplinary Core Ideas together to support the PE’s to teach a phenomena. You will not teach each PE fully within that unit, instead you may have two or three that are major PE’s while you have a few that are secondary PE’s where you will use parts of them. I hope I am saying this right!

4) NGSS Assessment – Trying to assess the NGSS will take a multiple-assessment approach, but most importantly, we need the students showing us they can “do science”. If we teach them how to do science, it should not matter on the test what phenomena they get asked about, they should be able to tackle it.

5) EQuIP Rubric – I feel much better about this tool now than when I first looked at it. The first time I looked at it, and maybe the next two or three, I was intimidated. Dr. Joe Krajick did a great job walking us through how to use the EQuIP rubric to work through tasks to be used in the teaching of NGSS. One thing I took away was that each individual assignment may not reach the PE but the overall collection of assignments can lead to the PE.

6) NGSSChat – That was fantastic being able to have a live tweet session with a bunch of fellow #ngsschat peeps. It was really awesome to have that many people online at one time and hope that we can continue to grow this chat session. This is a great way to make sure you can connect with others who are in the same boat and who will help you out.

7) Getting to meet people – So Wednesday night, I tweeted Dr. Pruitt that I would like to shake his hand after his presentation. I honestly did not expect a reply but he did reply. Now I was excited that I would be able to say hi and shake his hand. Dr. Pruitt is the Senior VP at Achieve and is over the NGSS development and implementation team. When I go to his presentation, he is up on stage and asks where I am and then jumps off stage to shake my hand. That made my day! Seriously, getting to meet someone like him was fantastic. Later he stopped by the live #ngsschat and we were able to chat for a few minutes.

8) I just hope that I can take what Dr Pruitt, Dr Krajick and many others shared and put it into action. There are so many ideas that I need time to decompress and begin to sort through things. This is just the first step to at least begin to make sense of everything. We are on the path to better science education.

9) Oh, and I am going to revise my Science Fair idea again. 🙂

What all did you learn while there? What was your major take away? I look forward to your comments and replies.