June 9th and 10th, we held the 2nd Annual FCPS Middle School Science Teacher Summer Institute. Approximately 60 MS Science Teachers from the district attended which was fantastic. This is the 2nd time we have done this workshop for our teachers, centering it around the Next Generation Science Standards, specifically 3 Dimensional Learning. Having been on the team that helps run this conference, it is an undertaking and our team did a spectacular job getting it together.

Day One – We were able to get Bob Geier from MSU to come down and work with us. He was smart, sharp, personable and a fantastic guy to work with for the day. In the morning, he helped our teachers really hone in on what the Performance Expectations were and how to use them. He also really helped us to see what was meant by 3 Dimensional Learning. Bob was able to build off the knowledge that many of our teachers had from this past year working with the NGSS and go farther with it. Teachers were asking very good questions and he was able to help them out. It was a great morning for sure.

That afternoon, we broke up into grade level groups with a goal. Our goal, was to take a Performance Expectation from our first unit/topic and to develop one 3 Dimensional Learning Task that would support it. Each grade level then broke into two groups and with each group picking a PE to work towards. My team acted as facilitators in these discussions. The biggest thing I had to keep reminding folks of was that we were working towards developing one task and that this one task would not meet the PE, but support student learning towards the PE. We used a simple document to help us jot down our thoughts and begin development of these tasks. Bob worked his way around from group to group, offering advice, thoughts and questioning us which was very helpful.

Towards the end of the day, we regrouped in the main assembly room and shared what we had put together. In the matter of about 100 minutes, there were some great ideas hatched. Bob shared some more advice with our teachers which was fantastic.

We ended day one with a Skype session with Dr Stephen Pruitt, Senior VP at Achieve, who oversees that vast majority of the implementation/development of the Next Generation Science Standards. This was a great session to end the day with as some more great questions were asked and answered. As always, Stephen Pruitt was a great speaker and really engaged the audience.

My personal thoughts were this for the day. The conversations this year were light years ahead of where they were last year. This year, people were talking with each other to help develop ideas and tasks, asking how is everyone else working with this idea, really coming together to share and help each other out. Bob mentioned at the end of the day that he was really impressed with where we were as a district and state, that this was the first time he had heard teachers who were working with the NGSS talking in a 3 Dimensional Learning focus. I am super excited about where we are and where we are heading in our district. Our teachers are doing some fantastic work!

Day Two – We worked through some work on the K-12 rubrics that had been developed previously and how to better use them for analysis. Our district science coordinator then walked us through an engineering design problem and the content that it would help cover.

In the afternoon, we introduced to our teachers Common Assignments and details surrounding them. It was a great informative session for our people to get an insight into what was coming. We then introduced them to a variety of NGSS related resources such as the #ngsschat, @ngssblogs, NGSS PLN on Google+ and the book studies that are upcoming on twitter. I’m hopeful we will get a few more to join in these top notch discussions.

We ended with giving them some more time to continue their work on their 3 Dimensional Learning task from the previous day. With it being the end of the 2nd day, in the afternoon, on a beautiful day, the teachers were still focused and talking about how to improve or develop the next task. Great conversations.

Very proud of the planning group who pulled this together and very proud of the teachers who took part. I know they are mentally exhausted but they left excited and feeling better about where we are, where we are going and what they need to do to help our students.